Prompted by a blog post over at In the Jungle:
"Write what you know." We've all heard it said, and we've all probably thought but I don't know anything interesting and then forged ahead as best we could with research, interviews, and imagination.
Here's my take on it: you probably already know everything you need. An author somewhere (my brain saves stuff, it just doesn't label it well) said that by the time you're five years old, you've experienced every emotion you need to write a good story.
Because a story, any story, whether it's fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, historical, isn't really about the time or the place. It's not about FTL drives, horsemanship, or proper Victorian etiquette. It's about people. It's about emotions. And we all know those. We've got our fortes -- for me, a lot of darker emotions, thank you depression -- but we've all got a wide range to draw on.
Write what you know: hope, fear, despair, resolve, exhilaration. Everything else is just homework to do.