The act and experience of change can be one of a wide and diverse array of emotions and reactions, and my relationship with both the act of writing, as well as my written work, has gone through a variety of changes over time. I’ve always felt comfortable writing, but at the beginning of my academic career, writing was always done purely out of requirement. I don’t remember taking any specific interest in writing outside of school, which was the main reason that I found George Orwell’s “Why I Write” piece to be particularly interesting. Not only did it help shed light on the fact that great writers can develop their interest in writing over time, I found it especially interesting to see what shaped his changing disposition towards the act of writing over time. While my reasons for initially beginning to enjoy writing don’t exactly overlap with Orwell’s, Sullivan’s, or Didion’s, the way I’ve changed the way I see writing does have some similarities with all three of the pieces that I read.
I’ve always used my writing as a way to reflect various parts of me, and while I’ve never had quite the outlet as Orwell to relay a political message, or written for any of the deeper purposes that Didion touches on, writing has definitely become a much more personal act over the course of my life, which I think is the result of the realization that writing is both a vital and overwhelmingly useful skill and tool to have as I grow older, but also the realization that writing is something I’ll have to continue to do for the rest of my life, and that if I’m going to spend as much time as I do, and will continue to do, writing, it’s something that I should really take the time to invest in and learn to enjoy. It’s not the intention for this to sound like a bleak realization, but by embracing writing, and seeing it outside of a kind of choir or dreaded assignment, I’ve come to see it in a new way, which has only helped me grow as a writer.
In Didion’s piece she states “in many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me,” and this is a mindset and way of looking at writing that I’ve really never fully embraced. Typically, I’ve only written for very specific audiences, such as a professor, GSI, potential employer, etc… But this way of thinking ties hand in hand about coming to enjoy writing and making it a more personal experience and practice than having it be simply something for class. I had always been very aware of the audience that I was writing for, and in many ways I was never fully aware or cognizant of the fact that while I was arguing my thesis, I was simultaneously giving a personal representation of myself, and that often times this could reach far beyond a simple letter grade. Orwell’s claim that many writers write out of “sheer egoism” really struck a chord with me as well, and I’ll be the first person to tell you that I can be overly vain, this acceptance that you’re writing will always say more than simply what is written on the paper has continued to shift my writing habits, style, and preparation.
Over the course of my life I’ve written primarily for academic purposes, and while my time devoted to historical research papers has typically been the overwhelming majority of any writing I do, the writing I’ve had to do for various outlets, such as controlling a club’s twitter page, writing press releases for a pep rally, or simply writing in a personal journal, have only helped me with embrace the deeply personal aspect and function of writing. Being able to see similarities between well established and respected authors has not only given me the hope that I can continue to develop my interest in writing, but it has also helped show me that there are other successful individuals who didn’t necessarily always embrace writing, but eventually came to thoroughly enjoy it.