When I think of writing, an image of a lonely figure, sitting under a dim light, scribbling his or her thoughts deep into the night comes to mind. A writer is a literary artist. A writer perfects his or her art through constant practice and honing of their skill. A writer writes because they are good at it.
After reading Orwell’s and Didion’s essays “Why I Write”, I began to have different ideas of how a writer is portrayed to myself as well as to others. Didion began her essay with introducing the fact that writing is an “aggressive, even hostile act.” She points out that no matter how a writer may sugar-coat their words, writing is the act of putting opinions to paper, with the hopes of changing the opinions of others. “The pen is mightier than the sword” has never rang more true to me. When people think of writing, they think of it as a passive thing, almost as normal as breathing or eating. It’s simply something you do to record your ideas or thoughts. Yet, the implications that come with displaying your writing to others can create strong responses, whether they’re positive or negative. Writing is a conscious decision to act, and the writer is the medium through which it’s expressed.
The example of writing that I will bring to class is the book “The Giver”. It is a children’s novel, easily read by any fifth grader. Yet, the implications that come with the story are immense, questioning the line between socialism/totalitarianism and the right of the government to protect its citizens. Lois Lowry dedicated the book “To all the children, to whom we entrust the future”. She wrote with a specific message in mind and forcefully introduced her point of view. Although the book has elicited good and bad responses, the novel has received many literary awards for it’s style and daring topic.
Orwell mentioned that “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’.” In his essay, he mentions how all of his essays, articles and books were failures. And all future literary pieces will be as well. Yet, Orwell knew that he’s a writer, whether good or bad. He didn’t question the reasons he wrote, he wrote because he knew there was a reason. What resonated most with me was that the motives for writing are different for each individual, but they all write because they are driven by a force: They want to be heard.
The image of a writer changed slightly for me after reading these articles. A writer is a writer, not matter how or why they write. A writer is only as good or bad as they think they are.
Anyone can write.