Blog #1 “Why I Write” George Orwell

George Orwell’s essay “Why I write”  maps out Orwell’s journey as a writer and how his motivations for writing varied throughout different stages in his life. As a child he wrote to escape his “failure in everyday life”due to loneliness at home and school. At sixteen his motivation for writing arose from his discovery of “the joy of mere words, i.e. the sounds and associations of words” such as lines in Paradise Lost . He describes himself at this young age as very impressionable- easily influenced by the “purple passages” of other authors and wanting to write naturalist novels just as descriptive or more descriptive than those he read. Orwell provides this insight to show -the age the writer lives in determines their  subject matter. Furthermore, he explains a writer must “discipline his temperament” and the importance of balance- not getting stuck in “immature stage” while not completely escaping their early influences thus losing their urge to write.

Orwell shares four motives for writing;sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. He admits, inherently the first three motives; egoism, aesthetic, and historical impulse outweighed the fourth; political purpose. It wasn’t until, according to his essay, the Spanish War and other events where “every line of serious work..written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism”. He reflects on his previous works at the end of the essay, admitting he lacked the motive that deserved to be followed the most; political purpose.

My earliest attempts at writing were kept in a diary. I wrote ideas, concerns, feeling and wishes I couldn’t communicate with my parents (without being uncomfortable) in the diary. My dad loves to read and was always reading a new book. He would also find poems to read to me. For most of my childhood by dad was laid off and my mom was constantly working. I could see how his unemployment made him angry and sad,despite his attempts to hide his feelings from me. To cheer my dad up, or try to I’d leave little notes with cute rhymes and poems in his tool and tackle boxes for him to find. I did this throughout elementary school. However in middle school the tone and the reason I wrote changed drastically. I was a very understanding little girl until I started to see all the attention my peers received for materialistic possessions at school. I attended a Catholic middle school on tuition assistance from our Parish. Everyone was required to wear uniforms to help students avoid peer pressure to buy expensive clothes and avoid bullying or teasing of students who could not afford expensive clothes. Events though we were all dressed the same, I did not the same. My uniform was usually wrinkled because I ironed it. I wrote about it in my diary. Everyone else had all the styles of uniform jackets, and pullovers, while I wore my brothers sweater saved by my mom from 10 years earlier. I wrote about this in my diary. Other students wore brand name shoes and socks. I got to pick out the copycats of those brands from PayLess. If a child planned to celebrate their birthday, the student was required by the school to invite everyone in their class. I knew I only got invited based on the schools policy and I knew when my birthday came around my parents could not afford to throw a birthday party, let alone have 30 kids attend. I became angry at these differences and angry at my parents. I did not show my parents this anger because I loved them, so I wrote about it. Unfortunately, my dad had discovered my diary while cleaning my room when I was in 7th grade and the guilt and embarrassment of the content of my diary was enough to stop my free writing.

After that traumatic  experience, I wrote only when necessary for a school assignment. My motives for that writing depend on the subject and how strongly I feel about it. In my essay writing for school I like to have a very structured approach to ensure my argument, claim, or thesis is clear and effective. I  start with multiple outlines and draft. I picked up a little trick that I have used in every essay assignment, from one of my high school English teacher, she advised me to pick a current event and relate it to my essay topic, explaining why it matters now to give my writing more purpose.