Why do writers write?


A blogger asked me to write about why I write. So I've been reading what other authors have said. George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, wrote an essay on the subject that he opens by explaining the start of his storytelling impulse: "I had the lonely child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world . . . " 

Put loneliness and books into a jar, shake them up, and what do you get? Sometimes, you get a writer. Like so many others, I was a sometimes-lonely kid who found refuge in books and began to write because I treasured the company of words. Circumstances stifled my voice; writing gave me a chance to have my say. And I got hooked.

There's power in exploring our stories, even if they're never made public; there's strength to be found in discovering and crafting one's truths. Most of the work that most writers write never makes it into print. As George Saunders put it in a recent interview, "I try to use writing to train myself into a higher version of myself."

An author friend just told me, only half-jokingly, "I write because I'm a masochist!" My husband jokes, "You write because you're a failed plumber." It's true. I am unable to do so many things. So I write. 

What about you--if you write--why? It's interesting to consider.

Janet BentonComment