The question of what propels creators, especially great creators, may be the subject of eternal fascination and cultural curiosity. The curtain on one of the most celebrated and distinctive voices of American fiction and literary journalism to reveal what it is that has compelled her to spend half a century putting pen to paper in”Why I Write,” originally published in the New York Times Book Review on December 5, 1976 and found in The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1 (public library), Joan Didion—whose indelible insight on self-respect is a must-read for all—peels.
Needless to say I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was I write that I like the sound of the words: Why. There you have got three short words that are unambiguous share a sound, therefore the sound they share is it: I I I In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other folks, of saying pay attention to me, notice it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can easily disguise its qualifiers and buy essay tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions —with the complete types of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there is no making your way around the reality that setting words in some recoverable format may be the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition associated with writer’s sensibility regarding the reader’s most space that is private. Continue reading