Why I Write III

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.

Anna Prenzler

Anna is a senior studying business with a minor in writing at the University of Michigan. She believes you can never sing or laugh enough, and you must write things down for two reasons - to remember what happens in your life and to feel something.

2 thoughts to “Why I Write III”

  1. I can really relate to the quote you have selected. My memory too, is awful. I think up all these ideas or scenarios in my head, but they soon become worthless if they are not immediately written down. My experiencing blogging this summer in London made me realize how important writing is. At the time, I did not take advantage of documenting my experiences as well I should have and consequently sooner or later those memories will fade. It is quite frightening to be alone with your thoughts. And are you ever truly alone? You may be when your writing it, however, whether it be a blog or a handwritten piece in your personal journal, the likelihood of at least one person coming across it is high. So, in my opinion, yes I agree with you, you are alone with your thoughts when you write. However, I still has a subconscious thought when I write that someone could see it–so can I really say what i want to say and why am I worried about what other people think about what I say?

  2. Hi Anna,

    Like you, I can certainly see writing as a method of preserving and enhancing memories and thoughts that would otherwise be lost over time…and I think your post really got me into thinking why writing is so crucial in preserving the moments we cherish most in our lives. When thinking of writing in the sphere of “preservation of memory”, I could not agree with you more when you noted how the most profound and unique thoughts we share can be safely articulated through writing. Telling a story with pen and paper (nowadays not as much) can be, and I believe exceedingly so, is far more forgiving a method than sharing said thoughts with other individuals. We can be so sensitive to the things that we experience as individuals in our day to day lives, and at times it is healthiest to take solace in reflecting within our own thoughts and opinions through means of writing. Thank you for your post and your perspective on why you write, I very much enjoyed reading it!

    Best,

    Henry

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