About Curiosity Seldom Pays

When I was growing up, my grandfather, my uncle, and my father would recite Little Willie poems to us:

In the family drinking well,
Willie pushed his sister Nell.
She’s still there because it kilt her;
Now we have to buy a filter.

They were funny, edgy, and just a little twisted, which, whether you are eight or eighty-eight, is appealing—at least in my family. So, I passed these little gems down to my own kids (who delight in horrifying their friends with them).

The Little Willie poems were originally written by Harry Graham, although others added to the collection over the years. This one is my favorite:

Willie saw some dynamite,
Didn’t understand it quite.
Curiosity seldom pays.
It rained Willie seven days!

 The thing is, for me, curiosity often pays. I make my living working as a writer and editor. I get paid to research and write articles, on topics ranging from current events to history to science. I get paid to fact check and edit books and articles others have written. I am usually not an expert in the subject area in which I am working. (Case in point, one of my recent editing jobs was a book about evaluating government policies in the era of global terrorism. I generally like to leave that to the experts!) I do, however, have to know how to find information so I can make and implement the correct edits (or write on the subject). And this is where an outsized bump of curiosity comes in handy; it helps make me good at my job.

Unfortunately, I can’t always turn the bump off. So, when my cousin sent me a pun-based Internet meme, I wondered where the phrase came from. (Doesn’t everybody?) I spent some time away from my paying job to check it out (a case where curiosity indeed did not pay!). The results are in my first blog post.

But I also believe learning can take many forms. So my blog posts might offer up travelogues for places I’ve visited, a glimpse into our family life, or a commentary on current events. After all, if I’m curious about it, others may be as well. If I need a laugh and a break from the 24/7 news cycle, maybe others do too.

If this sounds like you, then enjoy your visit. Come back often and see what’s new. Let me know if there is something you’re curious about. Maybe I’ll blog about it. If this is not your thing, well, thanks for stopping by and good luck on your journey, but amusing you is just a bonus. The purpose of the blog is (mostly) to amuse myself, and if my own writing isn’t doing that, I can always recite more Little Willie poems.

Want more Little Willie? This site has a large sampling.