“Half my job is asking questions of those who can’t generate questions, in order to model the will to curiosity.” — from “Creative Writers in the Academy,” by Orante Churm
Churm got me musing over this great line in his otherwise provocatively subversive essay. As a creative writing instructor, I see my role as very similar to Churm’s, particularly when it comes to raising questions, because this is at the core of creative writing, literary interpretation and, well, all forms of critical inquiry. When I teach using the “permeable lecture” method, I am modelling this will to curiosity.
A short while ago, I was asked to guest blog about “critical reading” for author (and SHU WPF alum) Kaye Dacus’ weblog. In response, I wrote a short article called “Questionstorming” that looks at the sort of questions that writers should ask when they read a story — but mostly, I assert, they should ask the question why:
Every drop of ink that you see on a page is a choice that a writer has made. That choice has a motive. A reason. A rationale. Thus, critical reading is — at its base — a search for that reason. It simply involves ASKING THE QUESTION WHY.
What Churm calls “the will to curiosity” is often not merely a desire to raise this question, but also the courage to find the answers, no matter how much work it might require, how complex those answers might be, how radically life-altering they might be.
Why ask why? Because there’s a thrill in the risk, and a satisfaction in knowing that you’ve moved one step closer — but never all the way — toward the cliff-sharp edge of the truth.