Friday, August 2, 2013

Curiosity: The Writer's Best Friend

When you were a child, did you drive the adults around you nuts with your questions, until someone said, “Curiosity killed the cat.”
I never liked that statement. I wanted to know how the cat was killed, what did it do, and why did people keep bringing that up.
We are all born with curiosity. If it wanes as we age, that has to be our fault entirely. If we think there is nothing left to learn, we should put ourselves in a challenging situation and find new ways to rekindle our curiosity.  Reviewers should not be telling us what film to see, or what book to read; we should be curious enough to find out for ourselves. We should travel slowly when we are in new places, so that the curiosity has a longer time to build. On long canoe trips, I used to love bending rivers because it gave us more time to wonder what lay around the next point.
Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity.”

Moms who are home with children all summer, know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Babies fascinate us with their curiosity.The photograph at the the top of this page comes from what could be the lost city of Atlantis. Archeologists have discovered a dearth of statues and buildings, all submerged by time and the ocean, lost but not forgotten to those who have always been curious.

During the recent move, I decided to part company with our old set of encyclopedias. I was loathe to do so. It just pained me to no end because there were so many times we, as a family, would look something up, all curious to find the answer. I used to look up new destinations and read about their history. The whole reason we ended up in North Idaho has to do with curiosity. Thumbing through an atlas at my father-in-law's house, I saw a map of this region, saw the French names of the lakes and became curious. Who named them? When? Could they have possibly come from the voyageurs? Could you get to North Idaho by canoe from Montreal? When the answer came back yes, I wanted to see this region. As luck, or fate, would have it, we were offered two free nights in a time share condo and decided on taking a slight detour on our way to British Columbia from California. We had our children with us, and the first lake we came upon was none other than our beloved lake Coeur d' Alene. We were heading north on Highway 95. I saw a sign for a boat launch and asked my husband if we could just go down that road and take a peek. We did and it was as if my hair stood on end. Funnily enough, we now live down that same road and on my way home from shopping, or an event in town, I see, once again, the very spot where I caught my first glimpse of the lake. Motivation and reward are tied to curiosity. I remain eternally grateful.

As far as writing is concerned, I am drawn to subjects I am curious about. I read biographies because I want to know how certain people found their way. What were the deciding factors? Who were their mentors? I am curious about the places we have inhabited. How did we get there? How did it work out for my forefathers? What events transpired to either help or hinder their way?

What will I write next? I am curious to find out because at this point, I do not have a clue.


Anna said...

Great post.Yes, when I was a kid I often wondered about that line, "Curiosity killed the cat," as well. Did the cat see it's reflection in the pond and go after it? Or did the cat eat the grain designed for the rats? Anyway, I think the dire warning about the cat made me more curious than ever, so blessings on that cat.

Jennifer Rova said...

Sayings, like proverbs, have so much truth to them. I believe writers have to be curious. How will I develop my story, which angle should I take? What POV? Unless you write technical manuals, a writer must have an expanded curiosity to do research even if it is only in your mind.