My title “Why I Write III” was simply an attempt to poke fun at the fact that not only did George Orwell write an essay with the same title, but Joan Didion claims she “stole the title for this talk from George Orwell.” She claims that one reason she likes the title is simply the way it sounds, and I would have to agree with her.
She goes on to say that writing “is an act of saying I, imposing yourself on other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act.” This resonates with me, as an assertive and often domineering voice, in that writing is constantly a form of communication but often persuasion. Another specific piece of the essay that resonated with me was “grammar is a piano I play by ear….all I know about grammar is its infinite power…The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind.”
I found this lecture so inspiring that I decided to investigate Joan a bit more, and found a quote that truly defines why I write:
“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” – Joan Didion
This truly encapsulates why writing is essential to my life – I have a horrible memory, and I want to be able to treasure my experiences and feelings and thoughts. I want to remember who I was and who I am in each and every moment, and the thoughts and feelings that form that being. And by thoughts I mean that writing is not only a form of recording events, dialogue, and moments, but a medium of expressing one’s most inner thoughts and feelings. I think often incredible, profound and unique thoughts are lost in the jumble and chaos of daily life, and writing down those thoughts can save them before they fall into the deep abyss of lost ideas.
Writing is really the only intimate time we have with ourselves and our own inner thoughts. Whenever we speak, we are usually directing it toward a certain individual, but writing can be indirect or direct, and directed toward someone or no one at all. I think often this ability to be in touch with oneself is why certain people disdain writing – you hear of students dreading their academic essay, or even 4th graders complaining about writing a story. It’s because as individuals we are afraid to be alone in our thoughts, and even worse, physically manifest our thoughts in a form of writing that could potentially reveal our true selves before we are ready to realize that truth.
But this truth, this net catching our ideas, thoughts, loves, and who we are before they reach the empty abyss of forgotten memories – is why I write. I write to remember, to love, to understand, to feel. I write to never forget who I am.