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23/09/2019: Why?

At a recent GP visit, I found myself sitting in the waiting room with a few other people. One of them was a young mother with three children aged about 3, 1 and a new born. We got chatting during the time I was waiting.

In my opinion, she was a great mum: calm, attentive, answering her son’s relentless questions and being on top of everything. I then reminisced about my own experiences as a young mother. I wasn’t nearly as good as her and most definitely wasn’t on top of everything – and I had just one child – but I digress.

It appeared they were there for the middle child’s vaccinations. She – they – were certainly a breath of fresh air.

As time went on, I couldn’t help but smile at her son’s questions. He was a delightful little thing, picking up books, asking to be read to, opening it up and showing his little sister the pages and generally being a good big brother and child with an enquiring mind, absorbing everything around him.

She sat down with them and opened the book to begin reading. His attention span was, as you might imagine, less than perfect for a 3 year and while she was reading to him and his sister, he looked around the room. She got his attention back by asking him questions about the book and what was going on in the illustrations. He answered then went back to looking at signs on the waiting room doors: a fire extinguisher, a sign for oxygen with a picture on it and all kinds of posters.

“What’s that?” he reeled off several times, adding “Why?”

As she tried to keep up with the questions and answers plus still keep the middle child occupied with the book, I held back no longer and giggled.
She looked up at me and giggled back. “He’s like this all the time. I couldn’t wait for him to speak and now he won’t stop,” she chuckled. “He has me in stiches, he’s hilarious.”

“You’re children are so full of character; they’re amazing,” I laughed. “He doesn’t even wait for the answer, he just goes on to the next thing.” We both laughed as the little boy looked at me and smiled.

This got me thinking about our job as a creative writer.
We have to ask ‘why’ and ‘what’s that’ all the time when structuring a story. Why this story? Why this character, what does this character have to learn? What do they have to do? Why? How will it make the story exciting/entertaining/educational? Why? Will you tie up all the loose ends? How?

And it doesn’t stop there. Our characters ask ‘why’ too, and then we have to answer them. Then the reader will ask ‘why’ so we answer them in order to give a satisfying read. Hopefully they’ll return and ask ‘why’ and ‘what’s that’ in our next story.

And on it goes.

So, in the spirit of this young family, let’s embrace our inner 3 year old and ask ‘why’ and ‘what’s that’ with every piece of writing we create. For without asking, how will we learn and how will others know?

Knowledge is everything. Knowledge is power. Why?

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