I’m no George Orwell, not even close. But, I have spent some time this week asking myself why I write.
During days so busy I occasionally don’t have time to comb my hair, why do I hold myself to a three-times-a-week blog-posting schedule?
With this piece, I will have posted 1,592. I’ve written through periods of extreme grief and boundless joy; when worry keeps me up at night and I evaluate my priorities; through good-byes, hellos and so-very-glad-you’re-heres; from my dining room table, a rickety bench, an old porch swing and a skateboard park on a hot summer day.
I know I write because it gives me joy and a sense of purpose that is all my own.
In his essay, Orwell listed four great motives for writing. “They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living,” he wrote.
No. 1 is sheer egoism. It must be true. Why else would I post these little stories, except that I want people to read them? I can tell you, though, that an incident a few years ago in which a blog I wrote trended on Twitter and inspired more than 200 comments (most of which are still awaiting moderation) made me realize that I only want the people to read my blog who want to read my blog. It’s an important distinction and one that inspired me to stop trying to market it, and just enjoy writing it.
I am always equally thrilled and embarrassed when someone tells me they or someone they know enjoys reading this blog. So, I have a healthy, though somewhat bashful, ego.
The No. 2 reason people write, according to Orwell, is aesthetic enthusiasm. I’d like to think that’s my main motivator. If I see something beautiful, or meet someone especially interesting, or experience something that cracks me up or inspires me, I immediately want to share it. I also love to play with words, to select them carefully and arrange them as artfully as my time and talent allow.
I believe he is spot on with the No. 3 reason as well: Historical Impulse. I write about this world as I see it so my grandchildren (and maybe even theirs) will know me. I also know how influential perspective can be. I like to hear other people’s and to share mine. Hopefully, among us all, an accurate picture of this period in history will emerge and outlast those of us who seek to preserve it.
Lastly, and most vociferously, he lists political purpose “using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense” as a reason people write. Looking back through my posts, I would have to agree with this one as well. While I do not consider myself a political writer in a traditional sense and, in fact, avoid party affiliation, I do have strong opinions about issues and I write about them with the intent of persuading other people to agree with me so we can all work together to make this world the coolest planet in the universe.
So, I write for all those reasons.
But, mostly, after a long day in which I may have written a work email to 1,400 people and noticed a typo just after I clicked send, or accidentally sent a little fellow off to preschool with the wrong snack; or lost someone’s favorite stuffie; or ate a little too much chocolate, it feels really good to sit down and play with words.
I guess this blog’s my Wordle.
12 thoughts on “Why I write”
Your words are inspirational to your readers, Laura. Keep up the beautiful pieces that I look forward to reading most mornings.
Thank you so much!!
5) because you are good at it and have a gift others can enjoy. My literature professor in college answered the question why read? It gives the reader a chance to experience the world in a different place, from a different perspective, perhaps in a different time, making our lives richer from others experience. (He was more elegant and probably more grammatically correct). . Thank you for providing perspective and often times the ability to slow down, and view the world from a different vantage point. We are all richer and fuller as a result.
It sounds like you had a really good literature professor! Also, please let me know when you’re in town. I would love to catch up. (I love that you read my blog.) Thanks Tim!
I know you’re my sister but I really look forward to your posts. I have shared many with friends and family and I know a lot of people who have subscribed and are faithful readers. You have a way with words that many of us wish we had.
Thank you Kathy! (Your check’s in the mail 😉 )
Keep rockin in Laura. Sometimes you don’t even need a why. But Orwell’s reasons are solid and I’m glad they resonate with you!
Thank you so much for reading them Beth!
I look forward to your posts especially the sports ones!
Laura, I read your blog voraciously because you write what I feel and see but am too hesitant to putt it on display. Keep ‘em coming!!!
I’m very flattered and I would really, really love to write about you!!!