Some of What I Know

Since one of the most common (and debated) pieces of writing advice is to write what you know, here’s a very incomplete list of things I know that have or likely will inform my writing.

I know…

– what it’s like to move through a room of thirty students, my mind racing to figure out how to instruct, provide feedback, respond to misbehavior, respond to good behavior, check for understanding, and end the class on time

– what it’s like to sit in a room of thirty students, my mind dulled by boredom

– what it’s like to sit in a room of thirty students, my mind excited by a great book or a brilliant lesson

– that I exist in a society shaped by power and privilege, much of which benefits me

– that, while privilege does not guarantee me an easy life, it means I’m more likely to overcome or avoid many challenges

– what it’s like to grow up in a loving family

– that even growing up in a loving family, we keep secrets and hide pain

– that growing up is tough (and it doesn’t stop when your younger self thought it would)

– even the best employers will eventually try to take advantage of their workers

– no one is “first draft perfect,” including me

– sometimes being “first draft good” is enough

– politics is everywhere

– how [money/knowledge/power/etc.] is distributed is a potent source of motivation and conflict

– no one acts in their own self-interest all the time

– everyone acts in their own self-interest some of the time (and that’s OK)

– power is neither inherently good or evil; it’s an amplifier and enabler

– power, position, and leadership are all different in important ways

– many public protests don’t make much difference

– some public protests make a huge difference

– history is a twisted helix, cycling around and around along a complicated path

– some of the items on this list I’ve known for years, others are newer, and some of what would have been on my list a year ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago, isn’t on here now

– there’s so much more that I know, even if I don’t know I know it yet