Why do you write?
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
While we’re in January, named for Janus, the god with two faces, the god who looked forward and backward simultaneously, it seems like a good time to reflect and to project.
The question, why do you write? Gives each of us pause as we consider what initially motivated us to write and what keeps us writing–hence the idea of looking backward and forward at the same time.
I did a little research and found some amazing insights on why they chose to write from famous writers. Their quotes will, I think, warm the cockles of your authorial heart.
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation…We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
“Authentic writers write even if there is little chance for them to be published; they write because they cannot do otherwise, like Kafka’s messenger who is privy to a terrible and imperious truth that no one is willing to receive but is nonetheless compelled to go on.
“Were he to stop, to choose another road, his life would become banal and sterile. Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them. These characters want to get out, to breathe fresh air and partake of the wine of friendship; were they to remain locked in, they would forcibly break down the walls. It is they who force the writer to tell their stories.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.:
“The primary benefit of practicing any art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one’s soul to grow.”
“The artist offers a special vision that reframes experience in a way that, although intensely personal, reverberates deeply among us all. To lead and arouse a universal audience seem[s] the writer’s task…
” The practice of criminal law had set me to seething with potential themes: the fading gradations between ordinary fallibility and great evil; the mysterious passions that lead people to break the known rules; the mirage that the truth often becomes in the courtroom…
“Over time I’ve realized that the ideal novel that deeply stirs everyone will never be written. Even Anna Karenina grows tiresome for some readers. The only true transcendence is achieved by the entire family of writers — of artists — who, together, manage to move us all. As individuals we can only dig toward our ruling passions, uncover them and desperately hope, as we fall, to be heard.”
“God bless the straightforward writer, and God bless those with the ability to amuse, provoke, surprise, shock, appall. The purpose of literature is to Delight. To create or endorse the Scholastic is a craven desire. It may yield a low-level self-satisfaction, but how can this compare with our joy at great, generous writing? With our joy of discovery of worth in the simple and straightforward?”
While few of us could begin to attain to such eloquence, will you share what presses your heart and soul into the bondage of words that you long for others to read?
How does reading these quotes make you feel?
Why do you write? Click to tweet.
What did famous writers hope to achieve in their works? Click to tweet.
Writers talk about what they hope readers gain from reading books. Click to tweet.