“I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development.”
So I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what to think about reading an essay on why someone writes. It was something that I’ve never thought about either I guess, so I just assumed that people write because they want to — they have something to say. And in a sense, I think this is true too, at least for me, Orwell, and Didion. I really enjoyed both essays we read, but Orwell’s in particular stuck out to me at the real depth and development that he put into writing about his experiences with writing as a child. I can relate — I went through that phase where I just write about anything and make it into a book, and I obsessively “published” (at home) a bi-weekly informal newsletter for my friends to laugh at — and that really appealed to me in the sense that Orwell’s writing was accessible. It’s something I’m striving towards in developing a more creative approach to essays and writing. Also, I felt that Orwell was boldly blunt but still engaging, (who wants to be called “vain” and “lazy”?) which is really refreshing and reassuring in a piece of writing. The way that he was able to be honest with himself, touching at times, and still pretty informative was impressive. I’d say Orwell’s essay was my favorite of the two.
I did like Didion’s essay as well for a different reason — her perspective. I was amazed and a bit confused by the way that she says she writes (coming up with a scene or picture and going from there), and thought it was really interesting to read about. I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious though with her “process”… the control freak in me always needs to outline my argument and write with a goal in mind. Is this a good thing? I’m not very sure. But it’s honestly the only way that I’ve ever written. Reading Didion’s essay, no matter how odd it seemed to me, actually is making me want to try writing her way, and focusing on the specific details that I see around me. Maybe it would help me creatively? I guess we’ll see. I definitely liked reading about both hers and Orwell’s processes — they’ve given me some interesting things to think about… especially when it comes to my own writing and process.