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curiosity killed the cat
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The Writer And Life Long Learning
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“Curiosity killed the cat. “ Ah, yes, but . . . “satisfaction brought it back.”

Writers are a devilishly curious lot. It comes with the territory. They are always learning something in service of their writing: be it directly in service of a particular project [such as a Technical Writer learning a particular software] or, especially with the journal-keeping writer, more along the lines of “well, isn’t that something? Maybe I can use that someday in a story or some such.” [Scribble, scribble, scribble in a journal.]

For a lot of writers, they find much of their inspiration in their family and their youth. Be it family get-togethers and the interactions that go on there, be it an atmosphere about growing up on the Louisiana bayous, or the New England seascoast, or the “back woods” of the Smoky Mountains of Appalachia, many writers draw throughout life on the scenes of youth. Laura Ingalls Wilder did. Louisa May Alcott did. Contemporary rising star Jana DeLeon does. Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons did.

So, what I also encourage you to do is to have a hobby or a personal self-study interest. Do not get overwhelmed by thinking of this as a lifetime commitment. But . . . have an interest in something other than writing. You can mix different interests up as time goes by: many authors do.

Now, provided you get outside your comfort zone, I would include in that reading. How do you get outside your comfort zone?

Alternate reading for enjoyment with reading for study. Read things you for whatever reason you would not or would not in that time frame. For example, I have been reading avidly to learn about a new genre. I’m almost out of the books I bought, and circumstances prevent buying more. So, I’m going through my bookshelves for books I acquired long ago but never yet read. I spent much of yesterday with one of those: what a find! It was so intriguing; yet very different from what I usually read.

Every successful writer I know has some other interest or hobby.

Among the passionate interests I can list of successful writers:

Classic Cars


Needlework Crafts

Living History Museums

Literary History

Toys and games

Regional and Ethnic Cuisine

Folk/International Festivals

Cooking/Food Preparation of all sorts

Holidays and Celebrations

Customs and Traditions

Personal Growth and Development

Interests related to horses

The Bible

The Koran

The history of Christianity [or Islam or Judaism or Wicca]

Special places [national parks, transportation museums, a remembered special beach, a family camp, a resort, a dude ranch]

Peculiar laws and regulations and the reason for them

Antiques/vintage items [other than classic cars] --- [anyone remember telephone “party lines”?]

Theme/amusement parks – including those long since in demise but that left their mark on those who once attended them. In my own world, theme parks made a strong mark through Lakeview Park in Lowell, Massachusetts; Salem Willows in Salem Massachusetts; Kiddie Ranch in Saugus, Massachusetts. And, most especially, Pleasure Island in Wakefield, Massachusetts: once known as “The Disneyland of the North.”




Cooking/Food Preparation [the second referring to cold dishes like salads]

Career-related information



Legends and Folklore

Regional/Ethnic foods and traditions

There you have a starter list of things you can look into to feed into your writing. It can start you off on all sorts of interesting speculations, such as “who really invented the fried clam?” or “why was it illegal at one time in some parts of New England in to feed lobster to the family more than twice a week?” or “why is it STILL illegal in Massachusetts to sell canned beans as “baked beans” if they include tomatoes in the recipe?”

Feed the well: you never know when the local barb-b-que chicken joint or nearby clam shack will be just what you need to advance your storyline in fiction.

Street Talk

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