What in either or all of the Orwell/Didion/Sullivan readings resonates with you? (i.e. What did you find funny, silly, touching, boring, inspiring, uncomfortable, dismaying, true, etc.) Why/how?
While I usually dread any required reading for my classes, I found I was pleasantly surprised when reading the Why I Write pieces from Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan. Each piece, ranging from a chronological acceptance of writership to an overview of the evolution of words and technology, had lines of the barely describable joys and frustrations that every writer has experienced.
Briefly overviewing the three pieces, I found myself enthralled and disgusted with the Orwell piece. It left me with such a cynical feeling. Why, and how, could someone possibly be so negative about being a writer? Being a writer is beautiful and wonderful, difficult yes, but a fantastic quality and passion. I felt a constant resistance from Orwell about his acceptance of being a writer. He made some painfully true points about motives for writing. I found myself nodding while reading his “we write to get back at the adults who snubbed us in our childhood” spiel. His four motives were surprisingly accurate; I had written for all four reasons: sheer egoism (yes, I love seeing my name published), aesthetic enthusiasm (I sputter endlessly while speaking, but writing is just a beautiful outlet), historical impulse, and political purpose. Some resonating more than others, I found myself in regretful agreement with a man who seemed to feel so burdened with the role of a writer.
As for Didion’s piece, there were a couple of lines that gave me that “I need to start at the top of the page just to get that feeling again” reading experience. “All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. A writer.” Boy does that strike a familiar feeling! While it has little to do with my experiences as a writer, it resonates at an astronomical level as a college student. So, I have zero idea what type of job I want, hell I’m barely sure of my major, but I swear I could name a billion things that I’m not going to be. I’ll never be a doctor or a mathematician, and maybe I’m still in the process of figuring what I am. But for now a writer is just grand. I like that a lot. Didion also displayed incredible skill is visualizing through words. Her piece was basically multimodal because I felt as if I could see everything she was writing. From the shimmering buildings to the white-halter dress strutting through the casino, I was in awe of how she could so easily turn words into pictures.
Lastly, I’d love to look at the piece that most resonated with me as a writer. Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” was, while incredibly long, an awesome look into the evolution and words and their publication. He went over blogging “tactics” if you will, as well as his own journey immersing himself into the blogging scene. It was so refreshing to read my own blogging process taking place in the mind of another. From his initial transition to his readers’ comments, I felt all the same. When I first began blogging, it was quite the experience. Instead of hoping my writing was chosen for the school’s newspaper or begging someone to give it a glance, it was free for reading and critiques in the online community. This, as Sullivan mentioned, opened all doors and opportunities for critics. As I’m sure the following on my blog isn’t as large as Sullivan’s, I’ve had my fair share of emails and comments about my opinions, style, and experiences.
Incorporating the “Shitty First Draft” piece that we also read, I often want to pluck the readers and trap them in a mason jars, for the sole purpose of completing a thought or series without my writing self-esteem being completely shredded. But it stands true, that the comments we don’t want to read or hear (especially the ones we don’t want to acknowledge), can bring our writing to the next level.
On an ending note, I would like the bring up “the ending note”. Sullivan’s genius ending line left me with chills and a smile. As a word-lover till death, the phrase- “Words, of all sorts, have never seemed so now.”- rings with truth and beauty. While newspapers are fading and paper publications slowly dwindle, I find words more present and intoxicating than ever before. In every medium and circumstance, the beauty of words is found, whether in actual written form, speech, gestures, or visuals. Now is the time to speak beautifully and freely, as wordage has never been more abundant and relevant.
Write happily, my friends. We have good stuff to say.