It is 4 AM. I’ve been writing for about 2 hours and I am not finished. Why am I writing? “Because I cannot stop.”1 That is an astounding confession, and true. But I cannot find a good dog, cat, cow, or squirrel analogy for writing as I have for curiosity, memory, play, tool making and using, and problem solving. At this point I cannot move between their mental worlds and mine. There is something new, something puzzling afoot. They communicate but they don’t have words spoken, written, or read. Where did words come from? What is the mammalian/primate substrate that developed into speech and then into writing and reading? What is their function for the individual and for his group, society, culture? Inquiring minds wish to know: curiosity.
Who speaks? We (almost) all speak. Who reads? A librarian told that only 10 – 20% of the population are avid readers, that read extensively for fun. Who writes? I would bet the ranch that there are substantially fewer avid writers. James Michener would write for 15 hours a day and be thankful for the powerful constitution which made it possible. Isaac Asimov, when asked what he would do if he knew that the world would end tomorrow, replied “Type faster.” They would recognize ‘because I cannot stop.’
Why do I write? Why cannot I stop? Where do thoughts and words come from? Why do I write them down? Why do I publish them to be read? So many questions, so few answers. So much to explore.
Here are some guidelines for my exploration: First, answer the journalistic questions: Who, what, when, where, why, and how? Those questions encapsulate curiosity and direct my attention to explore in several directions to develop a fuller understanding of my experiences and perceptions. Second, my speculations should remain somewhat within the canon of contemporary social science – anything beyond that is hypothesis. But speculate and stretch those boundaries never the less.
I will also occasionally stretch the meaning of words, reaching for a meaning that is otherwise elusive. And when meaning is out of the reach of an old word I will create a new one. Wordcraft is play, expressiveness, even poetry.
I have found writing to be, as Harlan Ellison described it, a good idea at the time. I hope you have found reading this to be a good thing to do. I am exploring: curiosity and play in action creating experience and memory, the fodder for telling stories.
1See http://jackofafewtrades.com/2017/03/my-first-blog/ for the source of that quote.