Getting my Masters Degree: “Write What You Know”

  
I’m about to graduate with a degree in Religious Studies. Thursday, I submitted the final paper of my graduate degree: this one an attempt to salvage the reputation of second century Alexandrian Christian (often called “gnostic”) Valentinus from the heresiological reports of Church Fathers like Irenaeus and the resulting orthodox historical narrative that shapes modern scholarship of that period. Earlier in the week, I submitted another paper, this one arguing that “gnostic” tractate Apocryphon of John, with its “ineffable” and fully transcendent God, relies more heavily on the Jewish tradition than on Platonism because the latter only presented systems with knowable categories of thought until Plotinus combined the “One” with the “Good” in the third century. What does all this mean? If you don’t know, it would just take too long to explain. So instead, I’m writing a book…or three, at the very least. And there’ll be some Church history and Gnosticism in there. And angels. And demons. And stuff like that…

I ended up in Religious Studies simply because of personal interest. My Bachelor’s is in English Lit, but I took so many RELS classes I declared a minor. When I wasn’t accepted into an MA program in Creative Writing, a favorite professor/friend convinced me to apply for this program. It ended up being the better choice.

What I earned with this degree was focus, resilience, drive, discipline and marked improvement in my writing and research abilities. And I have so much more to write about than I ever imagined possible!

“Write what you know” is such common advice for burgeoning authors, it borders on the clichéd. At the very least, it is heard so often, it is hard to know what it really means. I thought of this advice a little over a year ago, as I was deep into the “world building” phase of my fiction series. I realized what the advice means to me: 

“Write what you know”=”Know more.”

Know more about what you’re interested in, know more about what you’re writing about, know more about different types of writing, know more about research, know more about your favorite authors, know more about self marketing, know more about your audience, know more about your strengths and cultivate them.

This sounds almost as trite as the original almost-clichéd advice, but it works. It’s my advice to me. My advice to you, fellow writers? Find what works for you and pursue it passionately. 

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