I'm writing a short story, and unlike the main male character in my novel, this gentleman has a different kind of balloon fetish, a different kind of history, and a different kind of life from mine. So I have to let myself get into his head a little and imagine what it would be like to feel the way he feels.
In some ways it's not as hard as I thought it would be, but then this character isn't so distant from me in interests; it's not as if he is turned on by things I hate. It's more that he would probably hate some of the things that turn me on. It's more a matter of restraint on my part, I think. (Notice I haven't actually told you what his interests are. I'm keeping it as a surprise. Besides, I might end up changing some of it before I finish the story.)
But it did get me thinking about two things. First, when I get around to writing a story about a character whose interests deviate from mine a lot, will I be up to the task? Will it ring hollow because I don't personally get turned on in the same way? Or can I use my own experience with what turns me on, combine it with what I've read from other balloon fetishists, and create something convincing and enjoyable?
Second, am I really in any better position to understand my fellow fetishists than anyone else out there? As I've said, there is so much variety, and even one of my characters in the book expressed disdain for a popping method that she, personally, didn't like.
As to the first question, I don't think I'll know the answer until I try. I may discover, by the end of the first story I do that's far outside my own likes, that I can immediately detect my utter lack of identification with it, and toss the story out in favor of something I know much better. Or, maybe it will look okay to me and my readers will tell me I'm full of it (or at least full of myself).
The thing to do, I think is to dive right in a do a story where I don't identify with the interests of any of the characters involved and see what comes out. Maybe the story after the one I'm doing.
Now, as far as the second question goes, I think the answer is yes. Not only because I have a balloon fetish, but because, as a writer, I've had to put myself in the minds of so many characters. In fact, I think any fiction writer with an open mind who's willing to take the time to read the forums (and ignore the mainstream media) might do pretty well at understanding us.
Unfortunately, there have already been a few writers who took a stab at it without making the effort to understand. The only saving grace is that hardly anyone has read their work.
But then, I don't write balloon fetish stories to make a lot of money; the hourly pay is lousy. And I don't write to convince the masses, for I don't expect them to understand. But there are definitely intangible rewards. Even when I have to give my stories away, it feels good to know that there are people out there who, even if their fetishes are not exactly like mine, still understand the basic gist of what I'm writing about.
And that makes it worth the time and effort.