“Why I Write”

I identify very closely with the Didion article. At the start, I was mostly just intrigued by her identification of the purpose of writing and how it’s a way for an author to shove their own views and observations into a reader’s face. I particularly identify with the passage where she discusses how she focuses on the periphery. Similarly to Didion, I couldn’t tell you most of the information I’ve learned in most of the classes I’ve taken throughout the course of my academic career. I remember the large concepts, but when it comes down to small details I’m a blank slate. However, when it comes to experiences and sensory, “peripheral” details, my mind soaks them up like a dry sponge. Although I won’t ever be able to explain to someone how stoichiometry works (even though we slaved over learning it in sophomore year chemistry), I’ll forever remember the smell of mildew coming off of soggy towels my brother and I decided to store in garbage bags for the duration of summer camp when I was 11. Although I need to be reminded of the plot line of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I’ll never forget the path I had to take to avoid the squeaky patches in the floor of my childhood home.

Reading Didion’s article gave me somewhat of a comfort. It was very reassuring to learn that the way she discovered her passion and talent for writing was through identifying her weakness of learning but not remembering. Knowing that I share something in common with a scholar as revered as Joan Didion makes me feel just a bit better about not caring that all basic algebra facts have escaped me. The fact that I can use my talent for observation as a strength rather than a fault is quite comforting indeed.

3 thoughts to ““Why I Write””

  1. I think the statement about focusing on the periphery, just as it was for you, is a very relatable topic. Though I don’t write about this particular insight, this is obviously something that you enjoy investigating and that’s really interesting. I really love the points you bring up here about your own writing, because it’s beginning to make me realize how different we all are and how great that’s going to be going on through the semester!

  2. I really was interested by your response to the Didion article because it helped me understand a different perspective on Didion’s message and how it was relatable to myself. At first I was thrown off by her zealous writing and it seemed like she was just crazy. However, after you related to her experience and relayed in a different manner I began to understand how that’s something that happens to me.

  3. ‘Comfort’ was the perfect word to use, I think. After reading Joan’s essay, I felt validated in a way too, like I wasn’t as ADD for staring off into the distance always or remembering these candid details of things like towels.

    I have a terrible memory, absolutely awful, of conceptual things (sometimes that means academic things…). Sometimes I have conversations with people and forget that they happened. All the while, I can smell the air around an inland lake and recall the way the sun felt on my back, the way my wet hair kept my shoulders cool after knee boarding as a four-year-old on family vacations.

    I hate my brain sometimes, it makes me feel scattered often, schizophrenic sometimes. But at the same time, I think it’s what allows me to really feel the impact of words, to let prose cut me, to feel it in my soul almost. Writing has these details that are so sensory. And if we’re able to pay close attention to them, I think they can make us better readers, perhaps even better writers.

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