All sorts of things can happen when you’re open to new ideas and playing around with things

The title of this post is a quote from Stephanie Kwolek, the chemist who invented Kevlar, who died this week at the age of 90. It’s good advice for just about anyone. Being prepared to take risks, to get things wrong, to experiment, to keep an open mind, to throw away work and start again – these are useful lessons for writers. This is what Stephanie had to say about how her interests developed when she was young.

“I thought I would be a teacher. I spent a lot of time holding classes and teaching kids in my neighborhood. I also remember writing poetry and drawing. My father and I would go exploring in the woods, collecting flowers and leaves. I would press them in a notebook. We studied snakes and other things, too, as we walked through the woods.

“Later I got interested in science. I was either going to be a chemist or a medical doctor. When I got out of college, however, I didn’t have enough money to go to medical school.

“So I went to work as a chemist. The problem was that I was so interested in chemistry and research that I totally forgot about medicine.”

I expect there are a lot of families out there who are grateful for that. RIP, wonderful lady.

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