Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Do You Write?

Being a father is hard work. And it means less reading. At my current rate of reading, with interruptions, I won't finish a book for a few months. So what do I do? I still read, but I'm picking up and flipping through essays, short stories, speeches, and letters. I also recently bought a book on anecdotes. If I can finish it within thirty-minutes then strap me in, hand it over, I'll read it. If not... I'll have to pass and put it on the "to read" list. So in that vein, I've recently pulled some books of essays off my shelf that I read years ago, but due to my current reading time restrictions, decided they deserved another go. One of these was the excellent Turkish writer and Noble Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, and his book of essays, Other Colours

The last essay in the book, titled, "My Father's Suitcase," is actually his Nobel acceptance speech that he gave back in 2006. There is a beautiful paragraph in the speech -- although the entire thing is excellent -- that is worth repeating over and over again:

"Let me change the mood with a few sweet words that will, I hope, serve as well as that music. As you know, the question we writers are asked most often, the favourite question, is; why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can't do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life's beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can't quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.''

So...why do you write?

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