Why Write?

I’m reading Negotiating With The Dead by Margaret Atwood, which is in essence ‘a writer on writing’. There’s one particularly long quote that I love, and wanted to share – I’ve cropped it and messed about with the format, but I think the intended message is still there.

Why do you [write]?

To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten…

Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. Because to write is to take risks, and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive.

To produce order out of chaos. To delight and instruct…To please myself. To express myself. To express myself beautifully…

To hold a mirror up to Nature. To hold a mirror up to the reader. To paint a portrait of society and its ills. To express the unexpressed life of the masses. To name the hitherto unnamed…

Because to create is human. Because to create is Godlike….To say a new word. To make a new thing. To create a national consciousness, or a national conscience…

To spin a fascinating tale. To amuse and please the reader. To amuse and please myself. To pass the time, even though it would have passed anyway…

Because I was driven to it by some force outside of my control…

To experiment with new forms of perception…Because the story took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go…To defend a minority group or oppressed class.

To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

To expose appalling wrongs or atrocities…To speak for the dead. To celebrate life in all its complexity…To allow for the possibility of hope and redemption.

To give back something of what has been given to me.

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