Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why do writers write?

My friends and others sometimes ask me why I write this blog, a good question and one that has no easy answer. The easy answer is that I am writing for my grandson, and my children, so they can learn more about my outlook on life. There are more complex answers and so I turned to the experts for some reasons as to why writers write.

The question of why writers write holds especial mesmerism, both as a piece of psychological voyeurism and as a beacon of self-conscious hope that if we got a glimpse of the innermost drivers of greats, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to replicate the workings of genius in our own work. So why do writers write? 

George Orwell itemized four universal motives which are  Sheer egoism,  (Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one.)  Aesthetic enthusiasm, (Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.),  Historical impulse. (Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity),  Political purpose (Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after)

Joan Didion saw it as access to her own mind and said in part: "In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions — with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating — but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space"

For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. He said, "In the beginning, when you first start out trying to write fiction, the whole endeavor’s about fun. You don’t expect anybody else to read it. You’re writing almost wholly to get yourself off. To enable your own fantasies and deviant logic and to escape or transform parts of yourself you don’t like. And it works – and it’s terrific fun. "

Joy Williams found in it a gateway from the darkness to the light. She said, "It’s become fashionable these days to say that the writer writes because he is not whole, he has a wound, he writes to heal it, but who cares if the writer is not whole, of course the writer is not whole, or even particularly well."

For Charles Bukowski, it sprang from the soul like a rocket. He said, "if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut,  don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it.

Italo Calvino found in writing the comfort of belonging to a collective enterprise, "To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being just as Proust, Radiguet and Fitzgerald did: what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it."

So for those who read this, the answer for me is  I write for fun.  I write and never expect anyone to read my writing except for members of my family and that  I thought would be under duress. I hope what I write works for you, but all I know is that I am having a ball writing and will continue until it is no longer fun.

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