Monday, October 6, 2014

Where Curiosity Drives

Does curiosity drive both the reader and the writer? If so, what makes your curiosity go into overdrive?

What humans do or do not do always attracts my curiosity. It is more than just people watching, which I also tend to do. Sometimes I feel admiration, sometimes revulsion, at what others do. Often I misunderstand another's actions and make inappropriate judgments about the incomprehensible, stupid, or harmful deeds and situations people get into; that is until they explain why they did what they did, or until I run into the same situation and do something similar. Along with this goes a curiosity about fashion, hobbies, sports, and other human preoccupations. I think this might be a common curiosity to many writers, but I know as a reader, quirky believable characters always hook me.

Next to the above curiosity inducer are social situations in general. When I hear about what is happening in the world it makes me think about the ultimate outcome of such behavior and where it will lead. Anyone who writes also has to be aware of social reactions for the plots of their stories, and readers seem to recognize and enjoy this, too.

What humans throw away (or keep!) also intrigues me. Ever wanted to go dumpster diving? Explore abandoned places? When I Google 'abandoned building,' I'm astounded. I have to admit my curiosity started when I saw Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre's The Ruins of Detroit. Since then I know scavengers have stripped these ruins of copper, iron, bronze, any metal they could, even off steep roofs. I also began to notice more buildings, local ones, falling into ruin — barns, farmhouses, and commercial buildings. And what we keep! Does the TV show Hoarders scare you? It’s certainly made me curious about those boxes I haven’t opened in years. Luckily, I found more treasure than stuff to get rid of.

Along with abandonment, I wonder about graffiti. Did you know there is a graffiti magazine? Some of the images of truly remarkable graffiti (illegal by definition but still art) defy imagination. I've painted murals, so I wonder why someone would put so much time and work into producing something that could be painted over at any time. ??? Incomprehensible — and something to consider incorporating into a story.

Nature always piques my curiosity. Animals, wild or domesticated, in general gain my attention right away. To view a nest of eggs, to watch some animal scurry through woods or field always captures my curiosity, as does the flutter of moths and butterflies. I try to catch them to see the marvelous wing designs. I also love to explore new places on foot. I have crawled and squeezed through wild caves (dark, muck-filled local ones found when I lived in Missouri) and tame caves (those you pay to get into with paved walks and illumination along the way). Walking the streets of major cities can be interesting and wild, too. Last July, I was in New York when the A train I rode stopped and kicked all the passengers off. My group had to walk further underground to 1 train; curious and scary and a far cry from the civility of Times Square underground. Someday I’m sure a story will need a similar situation.

These are just a few of the things that drive my curiosity. However, heights and dangerous places don't do it for me, such situations make me back off quickly. So, does your curiosity share some that entertain me or do you have complete different drives?

Also posted on 10/4 in The Writers Vineyard.

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