Did you know that Samuel Clemens was a real riverboat pilot on the Mississippi? It took him two years of studying 2000 miles of the Mississippi before he earned the license and he then used it for almost three years before the Civil War broke out. His pen name, Mark Twain is from the the cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms, "mark twain" when it was safe to navigate. He was able to use his personal experiences to create some of the best stories known to the United States.
I think by writing about what you have lived through, you can create the feelings and emotions of an event much better than if you are just trying to imagine them. Samuel Clemens lived during the era of slavery and could write well about the relationships of the children of the slaves since he actually had friends that were slaves. He stopped going to school at age 13 but instead he educated himself in libraries and you can feel his disregard for the schoolhouse in his stories.
Each generation has their own set of circumstances for the basis of their writings and it is up to them to find the parts of life that are interesting enough to save on paper for future generations. What have you lived through?