Why Write?


Burn this book, Toni Morrison

Why write?

It seems an odd thing to do. Sitting in a room, alone maybe, pecking away at a keyboard or scratching away with a pen or pencil. Maybe someone will read it. Maybe lots of people. Or maybe nobody reads it but you.

Why write?

I know what I get out of it. It seems to touch parts of my brain that nothing else does. I get off on seeing something that would not exist if I hadn’t made it, even if it’s crap.

By this point it’s also a habit. It feels wrong not to do it, so here I am on break, pecking away for you 6 or 7 subscribers.

I read a book recently called Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Wordedited by Toni Morrison, whose work I love.

It is a bunch of prominent writers discussing why they write, in brief essay format. Authors include:

  • Toni Morrison
  • Salman Rushdie
  • John Updike (he manages to be utterly un-annoying to me for once)
  • Nadine Gordimer
  • Orhan Pamuk

…and more.

Highly recommended if you like to read what writers have to say about writing. Check out the reasons for writing from Burn This Book.

What do you get out of it, gang of a couple?


16 thoughts on “Why Write?

  1. I write because I love language. I love words together. If I can write something just so, using just such words, it makes me happier than just about anything else. Maybe anything else. I will smile to myself, by myself, involuntarily. And if I can share that, what I have written just so, with someone, then that makes me happier still. And if that person just so happens to “get it” and appreciate it, then that is superb. And if it makes them as happy to read it as it made me to write it, the thought of it making them smile like it made me smile, though there is no one else there to see it, that is the best thing in the world. That’s why I do it.

        • Well…I write on my personal/family blog, but for some reason I don’t think that counts. I probably also feel that I can’t write, at least not all that well. I am really lacking in the vocabulary department. I wish I could write better. I wish I could express myself better, in general, actually. I feel that I am lacking in the creativity department as well and I could use some help with grammar too. For example, (this plagues me a lot) are you supposed (or is it suppose) to say, “all of A sudden” or is it, “all of THE sudden”? If I write it, I always say THE sudden. But I have noticed now when I see it in books it says, “A sudden”.

          Here’s another: (I just did this on my blog and I was worried about it being wrong). I said: “I USED to like going to church”. But is it supposed to be “I USE to like going to church”? I feel so ignorant! HELP!

          I also over use exclamation points, if you haven’t noticed.

          • Start writing posts over here! Let me know if you want a login. No lame excuses about not being good enough or lacking vocabulary, if you please.

          • I agree with Dunce One: STOP worrying about that crap! If you care and have the desire, THAT’S what really counts!!!

            The only way to get better is through practice. Not that I’m saying you need to get better. I, for one, enjoy your responses, our exchanges, and have never once thought “Man, get this girl a thesaurus!” But you know that.

            A lot of the specific examples you reference are colloquialisms and you are confused with good reason. The writing is one way, but in speaking, a majority of the people you will encounter will go another way. So it ends up looking right one way and sounding right another way. Of course you are confused.

            For what it’s worth, and for your peace of mind, I think (and could, of course, be wrong myself) it’s “supposed” and “used.” At least in the contexts you reference. “Used” is tricky. Maybe I’ll write a post about it sometime soon. But for a quick and dirty reference, if “did” or “didn’t” is in the sentence, it is often “use to,” no “d” (i.e. “I didn’t use to like going to church). But without did or didn’t, and referencing some thing in the past, “I used to like going to church” is right on.

            And I also believe it’s all of a sudden.

            No such thing as too much use of exclamation points! Be excited!!!

          • Best case scenario, you write something you enjoy.

            Worst case scenario, you write something you enjoy and nobody reads it but us.

            Also, it is entirely possible to use too many exclamation points. That is nonsense.

  2. I do like reading writers on writing. It fascinates me, and I feel a kinship with them (even if they probably don’t feel that kinship with me. Not yet). I am a writer. I am. I just need to keep saying and believing and doing it.

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