OPINION Tyler Keevil

NWR Issue 118

Pushing The Boat Out: Letting Go of Writing What You Know

In her guidance to writers in the lead-up to this year’s Bridport Competition deadline, fiction judge Monica Ali gives the bold advice: ‘Don’t write what you know.’ This, of course, runs contrary to one of the most oft-cited rules of writing, particularly in creative writing programmes, and Ali is very aware of this. She goes on to explain that ‘there’s a nervousness, which comes from having been told so frequently to write what you know, about trespassing into areas that are beyond our experience.’

I felt that in writing my latest novel, No Good Brother. Up until this point in my writing career, I would have been aghast at Ali’s advice: I had always written what I ‘knew’ in one form or another...

Tyler Keevil grew up in Vancouver, and in his mid-twenties moved to Wales. He is the author of several books and has received a number of awards for his work, including the Missouri Review’s Jeffrey E Smith Editors’ Prize, the Wales Book of the Year People’s Prize, and the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Cardiff University, and his latest novel is No Good Brother (The Borough Press/HarperCollins). His story ‘Last Seen Leaving’ is one of only two, alongside ‘The Lion and the Star’ by Eluned Gramich, that was published this summer in Hometown Tales: Wales(Weidenfeld & Nicolson).

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