Author Topic: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.  (Read 400 times)

Gyppo

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Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« on: February 26, 2021, 08:55:44 AM »
   Curiosity

   Be curious.  Never be afraid to ask questions.  But don't just assume you have a right to know.  This is how some journalists really piss people off.

   But overall you'd be surprised how willing some even surly seeming people are to talk about their trade, hobby, or passion..  If they feel you really want to know.

   Once they get started listen, don't keep chipping in to show how clever you are.  Ask for clarification if you feel the subject is getting away from your understanding, but otherwise let it flow.  You can play it back in your head later.  (If you find you can't remember it you probably weren't really paying attention.)

   As a child I learned a lot just by watching grown men and women working.  I learned even more when I plucked up the courage to ask why they did something in a particular way.  I was watching a man unloading gravel from a lorry and wondered aloud why he only half filled his big shovel each time.  He was working like a demented little robot and it seemed to me he was making more work from himself.

   "I can shift three half shovels in the time it takes to move one really heavy shovel load.  So it's easier and quicker.  I can shift half shovels all day long without 'pulling' my back."

   I wondered why people hand sewing a long seam didn't just thread up enough cotton at the start to complete the whole thing without having to anchor the ends and start a new thread.

   "Because you don't need a long loop getting tangled and slowing you down even more."  But I only really believed that one when I'd messed it up a few times myself.

   I learned about the advantage of drilling an accurate 'pilot hole' before starting in with the bigger drill bit from a mechanic at the local garage.  He didn't mind curious little kids hanging around as long as they stayed back behind the imaginary line he established.  But he always chased us out when he was welding, on the grounds the blue light was 'dangerous', and he only had one welding mask.

   He taught me a bit about women too, although I didn't realise what he meant at the time.  "Drilling holes is a bit like women.  Better to start off gently than just plunge straight in."  I remember Dad smiling when his 'little man' passed on that bit of wisdom ;-)

   I also remember Dad regularly asking me, when he got home from work, "What have you learned today?"  That's the way to encourage lifetime learning habits.

   Sometimes, inevitably, the answers aren't helpful.  At the local airfield I saw a mechanic filling his petrol cigarette lighter from a little tap on the bottom of an aircraft wing.  I thought this was fascinating.

    "That's handy." I said as an opener.

   "Yeah.  But you have to remember to close the drain cock properly afterwards unless you want the pilots chasing after you."

   "Why is it called a cock?"

   I had him there, no doubt about it.  He looked puzzled for a while and then laughed.

   "I've no idea, young man. I've never stopped to wonder.  It doesn't look like one, does it?"

   Sometimes just watching gives a false impression.  I watched an old man effortlessly plucking silvery Dace from a Hampshire river using a beautifully made 12 foot rod, crafted from Spanish Reed.  No-one else was catching any.  I came away with the idea that you could only catch dace with a long rod.  There's a lot more to it than that.

   =====

   One thing is certain though.  If you don't ask you'll never learn.  And asking can include looking up reliable reference sources, either on paper or online.  Which you then filter through your own common sense.

   =====

   Curiosity about anything and everything is one of a writer's super-powers.  Quite possibly the most important of all.

         Gyppo



   

   

Jo Bannister

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2021, 09:43:54 AM »
It's not just curiosity, though, is it?  It's taking the time and trouble to satisfy the curiosity.

Dull people never wonder about anything.  Most people wonder, and leave it at that.  Smart people wonder, and figure out how to get the answer.

Gyppo

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2021, 02:53:16 PM »
You are of course correct, Jo.  No weapon/power is either dangerous or useful until it's used.

I suspect that things which don't interest me, and there must be some, barely register at all even on my subconscious mind.  And then there's the things I choose not to be curious about.  I can hear a ghostly echo of my Yorkshire Gran here, with her emphatic "I can't be doing with that!"  I guess we all have a few things like that.

Gyppo

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2021, 03:04:47 PM »
The very most interesting thing I learned yesterday was that people who are adept at computer programming do not use only the portion of the brain that parses languages. They also do not use only the portion of the brain that works on difficult math problems. They actually fired up both those when writing code.

It is uncertain that children, if taught to code young enough, would also do that, or if coding languages then would be dealt with strictly in the language parts of the brain.

I didn't even know I should ask the question, but I found a video explaining the answer along with the fMRI studies that gave the results.

I'm not always good at asking the questions, but I love listening to the answers.
Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.

Dansinger

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2021, 03:35:49 PM »
I'm not good at asking. I'm not good at talking. I'm just not good with people. I like being alone and being left alone.

That doesn't mean I'm not curious. Even as a child I learned a lot just watching people. One of the most important lessons I learned, is that many people don't like being watched, and take offense at it. So you have to watch them surreptitiously. I became quite adept at that.

I also learned that reading books helps. It helps you understand people, increases your vocabulary, and teaches you a thing or two about writing. But only if you pay attention.

The internet is a godsend to me. It allows me to engage with people on my own terms, in a way that is comfortable to me. I have more internet friends than RL friends. And I like them better, too.  :)
Daan Katz, Author - Where the Magic Happens
The Elven Curse - Kings, priests, elves, and a woman in a wheelchair

Jo Bannister

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2021, 03:44:49 PM »
I have more internet friends than RL friends. And I like them better, too.  :)

I venture to suggest that that's because you don't really know them.  Anybody can be anybody on the internet: ask the child protection people.  It's the easiest thing in the world to present only those aspects of yourself that you think will please or interest someone else when you know you'll never meet.  Real life friendships have to be more honest.  You can't keep up the pretense with someone you see regularly. 

Ask yourself this.  If you needed to borrow money at short notice, would you ask - and expect to receive from - an internet "friend"?  Or from someone you've known for years, laughed and cried with, argued with, thought you could do better than, but finally accepted them warts and all in the way that they accepted you?

Spell Chick

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2021, 01:20:36 PM »
I don't know exactly how many GoFundMe things I've seen lately, but it's a buttload. And they are being funded. By people from online. Perhaps they were folks who would have given money in person, but I'm not sure that's completely true. I think we have formed a new kind of friendship. I may not know everything a RL in person friend knows, but I know quite a lot about many people I've never seen face to face.

I genuinely grieved at the loss of people from just this shadowy space. I miss Ma and Alice and Tim and others who have left to go to the Great Beyond or just the Not Online Here places.

I went to Fred's funeral (a two hour drive from me) although I had never met him while he was alive. We worked together on an online publication. The first time I saw him was the last time anyone would. He might not have been the exact person he presented online, but I truly doubt that any of us are the exact people we present face to face, either. I hope everyone else is thinking the mean, nasty, sarcastic things I think, but have the grace not to say.
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Dansinger

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2021, 09:04:19 PM »
I don't borrow money. If I really had no other option, I guess I'd ask a family member. Not any friend.

I like to think I'm more myself online than anywhere else. In real life, you have to be social. I'm not. I remember a party when I was 16 or so. I hid under the table all evening, because I hated the noise, the smells, the stupid talk. Everything, really. That's how social I am.

Online, I can choose whether or not to engage. And I can mess up my "speech", delete it, and write something better. No stammering and stuttering. No messed-up sentences that don't make any sense.

Daan Katz, Author - Where the Magic Happens
The Elven Curse - Kings, priests, elves, and a woman in a wheelchair

Jo Bannister

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2021, 09:32:23 AM »

Online I can mess up my "speech", delete it, and write something better. No stammering and stuttering. No messed-up sentences that don't make any sense.

Ah, but that's because you're a writer, and know what good speech should look like.  Everyone around you talks gibberish half the time as well, but they aren't self-critical in the way that we are.  Genuine orators, who can speak off-the-cuff and still make their points cogently and without false starts, are rarer than hen's teeth.

Just for the record, I don't borrow money either.  I'm lucky enough not to have to - and lacking your option of family members, it would have to be a really good friend.  But it was just an illustration: who would you turn to in an emergency? 

Dansinger

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2021, 02:07:07 PM »
In an emergency I'd call 112, of course.
Daan Katz, Author - Where the Magic Happens
The Elven Curse - Kings, priests, elves, and a woman in a wheelchair

Jo Bannister

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2021, 04:28:45 PM »
Hate to break it to you, but I don't think they'll lend you money either.

Dansinger

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Re: Are you curious enough? Curiosity, the Writer's Super-Power.
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2021, 09:16:32 PM »
Hate to break it to you, but I don't think they'll lend you money either.

I thought the conversation had shifted from money to emergencies. ???
Daan Katz, Author - Where the Magic Happens
The Elven Curse - Kings, priests, elves, and a woman in a wheelchair