I once found myself teaching a class of twelve students that included, among others, a neurologist and a professor of philosophy and religious studies. Actually, everybody at the table that day had a college degree of some kind with one notable exception – me. So what qualified me to teach this class? I suppose that I’ve published some books, and I’m the editor of Author, and I write this column and so on, but none of those are what actually qualified me to teach a bunch of learned people about this thing called creative writing. What qualified me is that I am curious. I am very curious about how and why we create. I am constantly curious about what keeps us from writing the books we want to write and what allows us to write the books we want to write. I never cease to be interested in the connection between what it takes to write the books we want to write and the lives we want to lead. I think about it all the time. I think about it when I write this column, and when I talk to other authors in my interviews and on Author2Author. I think about it when I talk to my wife or when I teach my son. I think about it in the shower and when I’m exercising and when I’m walking and when I’m driving.
If you’re curious enough about something, if you ask yourself and other people enough questions, and if you listen to the answers and then you think about it some more and then ask more questions – if you do this often enough you will begin to sound learned yourself. You might even end up teaching a class in it. And all because you were curious and you decided that your own curiosity was worth your attention.
I am not intelligent. Rather, my curiosity is my portal to Intelligence. Open that door, and Intelligence flows in. I’d like to take credit, but all I have ever done is ask questions like, “Why do I feel like this?” or, “What should I write today?” I ask questions and wait for the answer, and if I care enough about that question, if I don’t tell myself that what I’m curious about is somehow less important than what other people seem to be curious about, if I allow my attention to travel where it naturally wishes to go – soon enough an answer comes along that always carries with it another question. And then I am curious all over again.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.