I am thankful that our first major assignment for the Gateway Course is the “Why I Write” prompt – I am already able to improve my writing skills through tackling a deceptively challenging prompt. One of the most interesting bits of knowledge to come out of this writing process is the analysis of Orwell’s and Didion’s takes on the same subject. In class, we discussed how both writers answer the question of why they write, but go beyond merely stating their reasons for typing words on a page. Orwell uses the prompt to explore the personal responsibility he feels to examine the politics of the world around him, while Didion reflects on her past and how others perceive her as a person. The subject is used as a vessel to explain something else.
I admire Orwell’s and Didion’s abilities to communicate ideas that are secondary to the prompt but just as interesting to an attentive audience. I am also frustrated by their sheer talent, as I struggle with communicating a message through my essay that goes beyond addressing my motives for writing. Is anyone else attempting to find a way to communicate ideas beyond the prompt? In a way, I see this prompt and implicit extension offered by Orwell and Didion as a metaphor for writing in general: the message given in a work may extend beyond the original prompt.