Why I Write Analysis: Ethan Wolfe

Prior to the introduction of this assignment, the prompt for “Why I Write” appeared self-explanatory and simple to answer. And after reading the pieces of George Orwell and Joan Didion, it became even more clear that every explanation of mine to answer the question had already been categorized. While my answers may not be especially unique, that isn’t a problem. After looking through the “Why I Write” essays of other various writers and MiW students, I realized that most everyone falls within Orwell’s four categories, but reached that conclusion through different ways.

When reading through the essay of famous author Terry Tempest Williams, he lists a slew of reasons why he writes, but ultimately reaches the powerful reasoning that “I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer indulgence, (the madness,) the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list.” He answers in a roundabout method that there is no singular, cut and dry answer to the question. Blogger Jeff Goins answered more succinctly, claiming he writes to express, understand, and remember, emphasizing the “process” identity with a personal/historical impulse.

Most of the student answers began similarly. In the essays of Jamie Monville and Lior Press (fall 2013), they both use anecdotes of formative experiences during their early years that inspired a confidence and enjoyment for writing. Both also iterate the need to enjoy the ups and downs (“the process”) of writing, and rarely mention the actual results (product) of their writing. And in the same fashion as Williams, Kristen Gilbert’s entire essay, which she titles “I Don’t Need a Reason,” claims that the answer to why she writes is simply to satisfy an indescribable and meaningless urge.

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