I've just been chatting on facebook and the conversation turned to the matter of opinions. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I wrote I also find it particularly important to have opinions on subjects I know absolutely nothing about.
It got me thinking. Because it's true, isn't it? Not just in my case. I admit I'm frequently far too opinionated, that I'm sure I know everybody else's mind as well as I know my own and that I'm sure I'm right most - well, probably all - of the time. I'm also sure that I drive my family mad, as I hate to admit I'm wrong and I'll do anything to avoid giving in. I think my daughter has inherited my stubborn gene and I hope it will serve her as well as it has done me!
So yes, I'm opinionated. And yes, I'll often argue a point that I don't even agree with just for the sake of a good debate. Sometimes it's rather fun. I remember many long alcohol-fuelled debates as a student, when somebody would eventually say: you don't really believe that, do you? And I'd say: no - not in the slightest, but I just fancied arguing with you. And they'd shake their heads at me in amazement. Or it might have been disgust. Or pity.
But having an opinion on a subject we know nothing about? Isn't that what we do as writers? You might argue (because we're all about arguing on this post - oh, yes we are...) that writers are supposed to research their topics, to write what you know, but you can only take that so far. If you are writing from the point of view of a character who doesn't know, isn't it far more convincing if you don't know either? And isn't any kind of writing having an opinion on something? Be it modern times, politics, whatever - a lot of writing is the author's own opinions disguised as fiction. Or not disguised at all in a factual article or deliberate opinion-piece.
It's a bit like voting isn't it? I've always been a firm believer in the need to vote - to express an opinion. If you don't vote when you have a choice, if you let apathy get the better of you or simply don't like the choices on offer, do you really have a right to complain at the outcome?
Far better to have an opinion on everything. Even the things you know nothing about.