“Why I Write,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
I often ask myself, ‘Why do I write?’ Writing is labor; it is lonely and isolated. I have thus far gained from this labored servitude no fame and little money. In short, writing is hard work, sometimes with little or no possibility of reward or rewards in sight. Here, I offer some reasons for why I write.
First, I love and enjoy what may be called the vocalic sounds of words. Words, moreso than the medium of bare-boned communication, express in and through themselves many qualities of near poetic beauty. Words can express the deepest and most profound or religious feelings and insights; the most beautiful visions and apprehensions of nature; the depths of romantic love; and the most profound of philosophical ideas and thinking.
Words can be put to use in the casual and informal essay as well as the long narratives and conventions of the novel as it has developed for the past 500 years. Words can express through alliteration, assonance, rhythm, and rhyme sounds and forms that bring us to the face of their own particular beauty. In sum, I write because I enjoy the sounds of words.
Second, I write because I enjoy expressing my thoughts in a coherent form. Thoughts only orally expressed first are impermanent and, second, undeveloped. The developed written word allows the expression of coherent thinking whereby ideas and concepts and thought can be made permanent and expressed to a wide and wider audience.
Third, I think I write because I wish to have a place in the stream of history where other minds will perhaps remember me and think of me and my thoughts and ideas when I am long gone. I write because I have the selfish and egotistical desire to have a place in the stream of future generations. I wish in an act of egotism to have a place in the pantheon of history, however small. Thus I write not only because I enjoy expressing my thoughts and ideas in the most elegant and literary way I can, but also because I wish a place in the stream of history.
Fourth, I also write because I think I have something to say. I am not so dominant and self-involved that I think my thoughts are entirely original since many of them come from the reading of the major writers and thinkers in the course of my life time. But I do think, in some little way, that I can, so to speak, contribute my little widow’s mite through my writing and offer the world something of value and interest. Simply put, I write because I have something to say that I think and believe people might be interested in it.
The sacrifice involved in the task of writing is great and daunting but, I think that, even with the dominance of the visual image and sound communication, writing will always be properly used, and be able to express the loftiest, most profound and deepest and most beautiful ideas and apprehensions that the human mind can express.
I conclude with this thought: A world without reading and writing is a world on the brink of intellectual destruction where our thinking is governed by visual media, sounds, messages and political propaganda. It is the world of George Orwell’s 1984, the world of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where books are burned, a world of darkness and ignorance, a world of intellectual victimization.