Several writers have written and will write their own “On Writing.” Their own “Why I Write.” Several writers and authors have said they write because “there’s something they must get off their head.”
The relief it brings!
I do not write to get anything off my head. Although up there is a loottt of stuff (some, certainly, junk to the full).
Writing is no technology for catharsis. Or should I say “publishing” isn’t? Because if catharsis be carried, such writing is in my Evernote, my diary.
But, don’t get me wrong, writing does get stuff off my head. And heart. But it is not why I write.
Whatever I publish, that is, (public) writing must emanate from the very motive, reason, or purpose that I want to make clear in this essay.
“To give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to” you. (Merriam-Webster, 2015). To suggest you consider this or that, you see something this way or that. That is, as I tell you, look, this is why I write, I’m suggesting you see my point, you do similarly.
But I’m not playing god by admonishing. No way! Nor do I exalt my self above all others, all else. Why, the very idea of solipsism disgusts me! A humble and fallible human, I can only suggest.
Left to George Orwell, my desire to admonish in writing might seem “political.” I, too, did hold and imply a political motive in my previous worldview and writings, and was so driven for a time as some of my poems and essays show.
In his fourth motive ‘why people write,’ Orwell claims no writer is “genuinely free” from “political purpose—[the] desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society they should strive after.”
Genuine, isn’t it?
Orwell’s “Why I write” is a fitting backdrop to this essay, because my motive in writing is no one of his proclaimed four! At least, no more. And while his fourth is so close, his idea of “political” is way too grand.
As I will tell you here, in a coming section, it’s never my desire to change this world.
It’s never my desire to change the world.Tweet this
Why I Write: A Backdrop
The oft-quoted section of Orwell’s popular essay is where he lays out these four “great motives” why people write. Why he wrote?
“Putting aside the need to earn a living,” Orwell claims people write out of (1) sheer egoism, (2) aesthetic enthusiasm, as if just for the sake of the beauty of stringing words, and granted, good writing is entertaining, (3) historical impulse, and (4) political purpose.
This looks pretty conclusive, right? Rather hard to see any other (equally important) motive than these, not four, but five? Yet I propose that one can admonish, can point a person or two in a “right” direction, without trying to change the world.
I can delight people, can benefit them, without any direct impact on the broader society, which is a good thing. But I should explain.
Why I Write: My Very Own Why
I am convinced that (imperfect, mortal) man cannot “direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23)
The society of man as we have it today cannot be changed for good. A car fire waiting to happen, it can only be gotten rid of and replaced with a better than.
This replacing is not man’s. It’s God’s.
The world is a car fire waiting to happen.Tweet this
Should I then quash all moral restraints and just ‘eat and drink for tomorrow we may die?’ How sybaritic! I want to live again!
And there lies what motivates me to write—to live again. To help you to have the same ambition. The same motive. That is, the world can blaze for all it cares, but can I influence a few to “think different?” Like I do?
If I may quote psychologist Stephen Pinker loosely, I’m only writing ‘to direct the attention of my reader, my listener, “my people,” to that possibility of ‘living again.” To help to.
To hope to live again is to live our best life in the present order of things, not necessarily to change society, as Orwell implied. — Yours Truly
Therefore, I don’t have to get into politics or write protest poetry or prose, or become an activist or rebel to change things, to change society, to change the world. But I can be humanitarian.
Writing as a Humanitarian Service
Now, as Christian, I owe loyalty only to God.
This inescapable debt requires my neutrality from conflicts and controversies of this world. If I involve in politics whether directly or through writing I will both challenge and compromise this loyalty.
I make it clear here I have no special affinity or loyalty to tribe, ethnic group, language, political organization, country, nationality, or race.
But since I’m inescapably human, inescapably part of humanity, I seek and work for its survival, without taking sides. And I do this with that ultimate motive of “to live again,” not to change the world.
Therefore, I use my writing as a service to influence those who may listen to me to absorb as much truth as is out there, as we can find, can access, to cope with the current order of things while having a clearer future prospect of “the real life.” (1Tim. 6:19)
I may not change the world but can I help you? Here’s an example.
Writing is a humanitarian service.Tweet this
What Are My Subjects?
I certainly hold with George Orwell that “[a writer’s] subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in.” I also agree I “have acquired an emotional attitude” that helps me to cope in our current age.
How our age may be described I’m not sure fits this essay. No, it doesn’t. Nor does it matter! However, I think laying out my subjects here will help you to see it comes down to living everyday in calm, untroubled spirit, come what may.
I shall live everyday in calm, untroubled spirit, come what may. — Yours Truly
Now, besides writing that relates to my sources of income, (and from which I do earn money) namely copywriting, marketing, and styling (websites and mobile apps), I write a(n) (rather subjective) inquiry into how to enjoy this life now and to live again.
Generally, my writing, no matter what genre or form or style or attitude, stems from my own personal refining—spiritually, morally, creatively, and intellectually.
Then like I’ve said in a previous section, when I alight on something helpful, I’m obliged to share, to “admonish” you to consider towing same line. In that manner. Good?
I did not intend this essay as answer to Orwell’s rather cynical (and parochial) claims about the writer. Yet, I cannot close without calling “insolent talk” on him.
Sir, I write but I’m not “vain.”
I do not need a political purpose to do honest (non-“humbug”) writing.
Now to you my reader, shall we live well now and live again then? I’ll be rocking it here, in my writing.
Let’s discuss this essay on Twitter #WhyIWrite