Blog Post 1: Didion/Orwell/Sullivan Readings

In a strange way, I believe that it’s reassuring to hear the struggles of professional writers. Not that I’m encouraging any writer to fail–that would neither be kind of me nor good karma for my own writing career–but I enjoy hearing and reflecting on their hardships. Now, while that may seem to be a strange fascination, I believe that hearing their journey resonates with my own writing.

Throughout George Orwell, Joan Didion, and Andrew Sullivan’s pieces on why they write/blog, they all documented specific hardships that truly made me think of myself as a writer and overall, my experiences through writing. There was no one piece where I didn’t feel some kind of connection, making me wonder if all writers are more alike than I thought. We all try to believe that we’re especially unique and creative in the ways we write and think, which I’m sure in many ways we are, yet the similarities between writers is no coincidence.

Starting with Orwell’s piece, I could agree with him within his first few sentences when he writes the following: “From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.” Although book writing was never quite for me, I too knew from an early age that I was destine to write. In fact, my love for writing prospered in my 2nd grade creative writing unit. Yet, as I grew older and the technological age emerged, I was surrounded by negative feedback in relation to a career in journalism or writing in general. People claim it’s a dying field, that no one can find a job in the industry, and the list goes on. And so, for awhile, I tried to abandon this love and search for another passion. But I failed in my attempt, and like Orwell, have accepted that writing is what I will do.

Didion’s writing was comforting to me in her modesty. For such an amazing writer, she claims she doesn’t know how to think. I laughed when I read that, as she is such an inspiration to many young writers. But Didion’s concerns are ones that I have been faced with myself in a different capacity. The way I write is conversational, it has always simply been like that. My favorite kind of writing is informal, as if I’m speaking to a friend across the computer screen. Yet many times, I worry that my writing does not sound intellectual enough–that I am not thinking in the ways that a professional writer should. Of course, we all have our own writing styles; writing would be so monotone without differing styles. But, I still concern myself with the idea of not thinking like a professional writer, although I have yet to find one specific mold of such.

Sullivan’s piece was one that strongly resonated with me I believe, since most of my writing is done in blog form. Through reading his article, I became aware of aspects of my own writing that I wasn’t necessarily conscious of before. Although I agreed with the majority of what he wrote, one specific part stood out to me: the vulnerableness of blog posts. Blogging is immediate, emotional, and not very private. Blogging after a rage of emotions, laying everything out on the table and then posting it to the public is absolutely terrifying–but completely rewarding at the same time. As Sullivan talked about in his piece, with companies, a writer has the backing of the entire publication and “harassment” or critique isn’t necessarily only on the writer themselves, but that’s not the case with blogging. When a post is published, comments and responses flow in almost immediately, with only your name and reputation attached. What if individuals don’t like it? What if people think it’s absolutely terrible? What if everyone views you as a terrible writer? All possibilities, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about it.

And so, it is definitely comforting to hear these professional writers struggle in many of the same ways that I have, and currently am, within my own writing. Hopefully that means I am on the right track.

2 thoughts to “Blog Post 1: Didion/Orwell/Sullivan Readings”

  1. Hi Britni,

    I totally agree with your idea that all writer’s share the commonality of struggling while writing and I think pointing that out makes every author able to relate to one another in that aspect. I also think the way you structured the third paragraph by beginning similarly to Orwell’s essay gave this piece a personal touch and solid background information. I appreciate your honesty when you talk about your concerns as a writer in your fourth paragraph. Everyone has a voice that is specific to them so whether formal or informal, I think writing what is true to you is one of the most important things you can do. Your voice seems genuine, which felt relatable. I also enjoyed reading your final statements about blogging as blogging is entirely new to me. I am experiencing some similar concerns about posting all my work on the internet, but it is encouraging hearing similar concerns from someone who has blogged before.

    Overall I enjoyed reading this post!


  2. Britni,

    This is a great post! While I agreed with almost everything that you wrote about resonating with the authors we read, many of your own thoughts and fears are similar to mine! Like you said, we all think we are pretty unique, in writing and thought, but in actuality we all have some of the same motives and worries.
    I am a blogger as well, and often find myself worrying about how my constant conversational writing will survive in a world of technical, professional, and formal writing opportunities. But in all actuality, people truly love reading something relatable with a conversational tone.
    Sullivan definitely hit it on the head when talking about comments and critiques from readers. It’s scary to think that within a matter of seconds, the thoughts that had stewing in your head can be published and either torn apart or accepted by your community of readers. I wonder if the “Shitty First Draft” technique of putting the readers in a jar would be acceptable? Maybe not, but readership, negative and positive, shapes and improves each piece of writing that I publish.
    I also had a good laugh when Didion said “I don’t know how to think.” Like seriously lady? You write like a freaking wizard! Assuming of course that wizards are good writers. Anyways, great stuff you said. Know that you definitely aren’t alone in the worries of the formal-writing takeover and the job market for writing slimming. We’ve all got those fears.


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