The Essential Curiosity

238Last night I sank into my reading chair and opened a murder mystery classic: The Butcher Boy by Thomas Perry. This is Perry’s first novel and one that earned him many accolades and awards. The book has an introduction by Michael Connelly, another master of the mystery genre. One statement Connelly made in his introduction stuck in my brain as good advice to us blog-writers. Connelly lauded the craftsmanship of Perry’s writing by stating: “Writing comes from experience, curiosity and knowledge.”

As a person who writes a good bit, I loved the idea of defining the act of writing using these three simple ingredients. The first, experience, is an obvious element. Experience encompasses the world in which I live and that which I find noteworthy, new, or in some ways memorable. The third element, knowledge, also makes sense. Knowledge allows me to filter my experience, to analyze and interpret it through my own set of heuristics and logic. Unfiltered experiences would lack cohesion and appear dull and encyclopedic.

It is Connelly’s second element, curiosity that makes me stop and smile. Curiosity molds the experience and knowledge into something of interest. When a writer can transmit the curious to the reader, the reader will be compelled to turn page after page. Curiosity about the what, who, why, where and how propels the reader from chapter to chapter and results in a memorable reading experience.

So how am I as a writer? My life yields a plethora of experiences. I believe that my knowledge allows me to filter out the best. But can I transmit my curiosity? Can I continue to see the new, the exciting, the anomalous, the puzzling in the world around me? That is the challenge for every good writer.