The average reporter, the one who is more interested in job security than great news, will most likely follow his editor’s instructions and move on to reporting on this year’s Dog Show. The really good reporters, like Lois, Zoe, and Gale, are a bit more stubborn. Their editor may not be able to see anything other than what is commonplace. “Nothing out of the ordinary! Give it up,” he says. But these women have the vision to see potential for the story underneath the mask of mundanity, and they’re willing to venture deep into the unknown to get their scoop.
The best writers are a lot like really good reporters in this way. Learning to write is about learning to see, and learning to go. Where the average writer might quit and say, “This idea is stupid. It’s going no where. No one will want to read this,” a great writer sees something more buried beneath the stupidity. And she is willing to dig a bit more deeply than she’s comfortable in order to find it. After all, if little Alice had never stuck her head down the rabbit hole, then she never would have fallen, and she never would have found Wonderland. My guess is that Lewis Carroll had a very similar experience while writing his classic story.
The best writers are the ones who are willing to embark on a journey that has no foreseeable end. They’re willing to take risks, to get messy, and perhaps even piss off their boss a little bit. All they need is for something interesting to catch their eye, and before you know it, they’ve grabbed their notepad and are out the door on an adventure. These artists have a curiosity that is constantly getting the better of them. The process of writing then, is the process of reclaiming the upper hand on our curiosity by bringing clarity to the mystery we set out to solve.