WHAT IS CURIOSITY—AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR A WRITER—OR IS IT?
My much loved sister, Lucy, has a habit of coming up with provocative illustrations which she features on Facebook—so, once again, I am using her as a source of inspiration.
When Lucy was a baby, she was described by my mother as: Lucy the boosy—milky and juicy.
My mother was a difficult woman, but she had her tender moments. She loved Lucy—we all did—and we still do. Lucy is the matriarch of the family—yet the youngest. Yes, I know that is not logical. Humans are not logical. It is a matter of respect. It is an honor which has been earned.
The first question I asked myself was: Can you be a writer if you are not curious? Well, clearly you can in a mechanical sense—in that you can string words together—but the word writer to me implies much more.
It suggests an observer of life whose work helps to illuminate and advance the human condition. Yes, that does sound like a lofty goal, but I am not being that arrogant. One can achieve such desirable objectives in small ways—by entertaining, by contributing a little perspective, by stimulating the reader’s mind, by simply distracting him or her. Frankly, if I can do all that, I am vastly pleased. Do I have higher objectives? Of course—but I will settle for the practical.
But can you do that if you aren’t curious—if you are not remotely concerned about the behavior of your fellow human beings?
In effect, you are the ultimate disinterested observer. Perhaps, you observe; and perhaps you take notes—but since you are not remotely curious about motivation, or indeed any detail, your involvement is less dispassionate than inhuman.
Roll on flawed human beings. Curiosity may well be your primary redeeming feature.
My conclusion: curiosity is endemic to the role of a writer. Nothing matters more than a simple word: Why?