Orwell and Didion Response

What resonated with me most about the two articles is how Orwell and Didion both describe writing as something they need to do, rather than something they want to do.  I understood both authors to be arguing that writing became a compulsion for them, rather than a passion.

In some ways I agree with their point of view.  Writing is the way in which I best express myself and, like Didion, putting pen to paper is often how I create a sense of clarity out of the chaos around me.  Furthermore, in relation to Orwell’s four motives for writing, I know that writing is the best way I am able to make my mark on the world (although I hope this doesn’t fall entirely into the category of “sheer egoism”).  In short, I do not know who I would be if I didn’t write.

However, it is Orwell and Didion’s apparent lack of desire for the act of writing that I do not understand.  I have always associated writing, both my own and that of professionals, as an art driven by passion, a point of view which Orwell, especially, negates quite bluntly several times throughout his “Why I Write” essay.  It makes me uncomfortable to think that some of my favorite pieces of writing may not have been written because the author truly enjoys bringing entertaining stories to readers, but rather were created solely in the author’s self interests.

2 thoughts to “Orwell and Didion Response”

  1. I hadn’t thought about the compulsion aspect of writing, though I do agree with you that this is absolutely how writing feels for me most of the time. To me it felt like at least Orwell was writing because he didn’t have a choice; it was almost his duty to tell people the truth that he knew.
    It’s interesting how the selfishness of writing makes you uncomfortable, because that’s exactly what I said in my blog. It makes me uncomfortable, though, because now I’m really seeing it to be true in many people, even myself.

  2. I also thought the “need” to write that both authors mentioned, whether they could control it or not, was an interesting point. I tried to categorize whether it was a compulsion, like you mentioned, a life goal, or something else. I think the discomfort that both Orwell and Didion associated with writing stems from the fact that the process is intensely personal, and sharing it with the world is super revealing, although an essential part of each author’s life.

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