I’m not a bozo. Assuming from the identical titles, it’s obvious that I’m supposed to read the two papers, compare them, discuss them, and then, have answer to questions like what motivates writers, why writers like to write, what’s it’s like to be a writer—no problem.
With skepticism about the impact of this assignment on my writing skills, I lay back on my bed with the papers spread out along the covers and forced my eyes to stare at the words of George Orwell’s “Why I Write”. And instantly I was pulled in.
From the first line, I sensed that I was about to read something good, maybe even profound: “From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer”.
As a college student in middle of trying to plan my future, I am intrigued by this humble, declaration of confidence. What kind of child already knew what he wanted to do with his life? I was certainly jealous.
Following that sentence, Orwell states that he initially “tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books”. At this point, I could not have felt more attune and interested in a class assignment because I realized to him, writing became something more than an action or career. He saw every purpose of writing as a legitimate goal and Orwell understood very clearly that, for him, his life goals were to achieve those goals.
Compared to Orwell, Didion was more upbeat and less somber in her essay about her relation to writing. She went straight to the facts about how her way of thinking leads her to “[begin] each of [her] novels, with no notion of ‘character’ or ‘plot’ or even ‘incident’”. I realized after reading her explanation and analysis that writing is a very goal-driven act. Whether its purpose is to act as a form of self-expression or art or to address or understand an issue, writing is very personal and every aspect of every literature has someone’s life imbedded within it.
Thus, today, I have selected two piece of writing that I would like to emulate or consider both excellently written and artistically engaging. John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace” is one of my all time favorite novels. Having attended a private, boarding school in high school, this coming-of-age novel is a topic of interest to me and I am always looking for literature that captures the same feelings and values that I experience growing up. Furthermore, I consider this book excellently written because every sentence and description seems intentional and clear. Like him, I want to be able to write clearly yet express beautifully. I also want to be able to be able to convey to readers emotions and feelings through words. In other words, I want to be an excellent story-teller, which brings me to the next piece of writing that I would like to emulate. Though it is somewhat unconventional, I would like to emulate the writings of country-pop singer Taylor Swift. As a devoted fan, I believe she does an excellent job telling stories despite the fact that many of the things she described are only exclusively experienced by her.
Thinking about the writings I chosen as my role models and how I reacted to Orwell and Didion’s “How I Write”, I realized that as a writer, my goal this semester is to just be able to tell a story, well. Yes, it is egoistic, Yes, it could have political implication. Yes, it could be an artistic attempt. However, if a story is well-written, does it really matter what the purpose behind it is? I just want to be a story-teller.