Why I Write
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” – George Orwell
Why I Write – If I answer truthfully, I don’t know why I write. Just as I don’t know why I breathe or water comes from the tap. City bred, it never occurred to me there were places water did not flow on demand. Libraries scattered across my urban landscape held words, ready for selection, mere blocks away. A welcoming librarian smiled at the revolving stacks of books I placed before her. On rare occasions, she might say, “Are you sure about that title? It might be a tad old for you.” I was never sure but I was always curious. The potential for escape lay between every binding.
Mr. Marks my Sophomore English teacher marked an A on a spontaneous essay assignment. His comments written in red ink first terrified then delighted me. He liked it. That first positive comment re my writing niggled. No matter how many times my internal dialogue said, “maybe you can write,” my pragmatic internal editor retorted, “don’t be ridiculous”. Self-defeat reigned.
Decades later a friend brought me, without explanation, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She said, “You need to read this.” It rested on my nightstand for months. Picked up to slay insomnia, I read through the remaining night. It gave me the courage to say I want to write. I set the task of 300 words a day. I had no plot, no plan; my only tools were a keyboard and MSWord. I was compelled to write to find how my story turned out. All the outside fears of what others would think fell away. THEY didn’t have to know and THEY didn’t have to like what I wrote.
I still want to write. And I do, though it both tortures and fulfills me. Like breathing and water it sustains. I don’t need to know why. My job is to acknowledge my need and honor it.
George Orwell wrote the following: https://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw . It’s a lovely read.
Other writers I know have many reasons for why they continue. I will share their thoughts with future guest blogs. I’d love to hear what drives you.