Why I Write

Looking back at my last two and a half years of college, and more generally all of my life, I am realizing I technically have always been a writer. When I was in elementary school I would write and illustrate my own books about whatever caught my attention that week. After I finished each one, I thought they were all masterpieces, I would give them to my teacher and beg them to laminate it for me. I don’t know why but they would always do it, but now I am extremely thankful that they allowed me to explore/rewarded my creativity.

Then in high school I jumped at the opportunity to do a similar thing with a younger student. It was part of an elective class, a class which all of the older kids said not to take but everyone took anyway. We would go back to the elementary school and work with a first grade class and help them create their own books. I was matched with Claire because we both had blonde hair and loved sports and dogs (I think). She told me what she wanted her book to be about and I created it for her. Her favorite game was CandyLand, so I wrote a story about her playing a game with her family. I illustrated the pages, laminated them and met with her one last time to share our publication. Seeing her enjoy a book she made brought me back to my years in elementary school when I began to enjoy the same thing she was enjoying in that moment. I also took every English AP course that my school offered while everyone else was taking calculus or physics. I always have preferred to write a paper than take a chemistry exam.

In the sense that I have been a ‘writer’ since a young age, I can relate to Orwell’s piece. My motivations and inspirations were different; mine were not out of loneliness or isolation. My subjects were also different, I tended to write about animals or my family while Orwell took on bigger issues. However, I don’t connect with everything he says. I don’t agree with his claim that every book is a failure. It seems strange that he would think that as a successful author. I can understand that his opinions of his writing changed, I change my opinions on my own too, but I never thought that a popular, successful writer would be so honest and open about that, clearly not worried that it would affect future readers. If that is what he thought, he was right. People still read his books, people still love his writing and style despite his somewhat negative opinions. I also think it’s interesting that he had that mindset when he was only a few years from writing 1984. I have always liked Orwell as an author and like the books of his that I have read, but I am currently unsure if this piece made me like him more or less.

Shannon Vail

I am a senior Art History major who thoroughly enjoys cooking, traveling, beagles and Buffalo sports.

2 thoughts to “Why I Write”

  1. I agree that it was interesting for Orwell, a very successful author, to claim that every book is a failure. However, I think this probably comes from the innate insecurities every writer has about their writing. No matter how hard I work on a piece of writing, I always feel like there is more I could do to argue my point, more revision I could’ve done. I think I was especially aware of this in a creative writing course I took two semesters ago. No matter how many hours I put into creating a story, every time I read it over I found something I could change or improve. Some writers spend decades creating their novels, and I can see why. Someone will always criticize your work, or suggest that something about it could be improved. Yet part of being a writer is feeling the need to write anyway, despite the fact that no piece of work will ever be “perfect.”

  2. I also wrote as a child too. I focused much more on art than I did writing as a child though. But I also illustrated my stories. I definitely was not on you level. Its really interesting that children tend to write about animals, or have their character be animals. Communications studies suggest kids are more likely to be engaged when a film has animals or animations or kids as its characters, so I guess that makes sense.

    Its so interesting that a lot of writers, or other people think writers, prefer writing a paper than taking an exam. Even though I’d write for a living, I’d still rather take an exam. Preparation is less time consuming with an exam. It feels less personal. I feel like you can go wrong in many ways when writing a paper. It’s such a holistic experience, there are so many facets. But exams are more connected to working the system, which is a skill in and of itself.

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