Friday, January 10, 2014

Why Write? by George Orwell

     For this post, you are going to have to do a little homework:

     First of all let me point out  the above blog site, Brain Pickings. I have this site set to deposit its essays on my Facebook. It does so 3 times a day which may be a little much. I don't read all the postings. In fact some days I don't read any. However, the site makes use of graphics very effectively and there is often one of these graphics which catch my attention as something I would be interested in reading. In this case, the post that grabbed my attention was one about the cold spell that we have recently suffered. Tea was suggested as a cure. The curative suggestion was to read George Orwell's essay on the 11 absolutely necessary steps in making a good cup of tea. I used to have tea parties at our new home when we moved in, about in 1998. So even though I am American, and not British, I know about making a good cup of tea and about all the necessities and ramifications of holding an afternoon or late morning "tea." I have several small but fancy "coffee table" style books about different themes for the tea party. So I could readily relate to George Orwell's rules of the teapot. But at the bottom of that essay as an advertisement for this blog, was a link to a post called "Why Write?" Of course, I couldn't resist hitting on that link. This is how this site becomes addictive.

     The "Why Write" essay also by George Orwell struck me. As the author of the blog says, it could apply to anyone pursuing creative projects.  So that is your homework. First read the essay at the above link.

     Have you read it?

     Orwell says that the 4 motives for writing are: 1) Sheer Egoism; 2) Aesthetic Enthusiasm; 3) Historical Impulse; and 4)Political Purpose. 

     Now I have to do my homework. Why did these four motives for writing grab me? And where do I stand in the balance of importance of each in my own thoughts while contributing my posts to this blog?

      First, I admire Orwell's candidness about the first motive. Sheer Egoism. I would guess that everyone who creates has some of this motive and in many people, it must be quite primary. My upbringing and my career taught me to serve others. Therefore, it is easy to kid myself that my motives are unselfish and for the good of others. But when I read Orwell's article, it was as if that first paragraph was typed in bold letters. Yes, there is no doubt that I write to promote myself, to shine in others eyes, and to hear the comments when someone I know has read my blog and liked it. There is a feeling as Orwell describes of having that post in writing to show the people I know what I have become, yes to shine in their eyes. For me this is a big motive for posting on Facebook, when I have added new writing to my blog. Like many teenagers, even though I was smart, and had a lot of friends in elementary and high school, I had very low self esteem. It was not until I was well established in college that I began to really believe in myself. I think that needing the accolades attributed to my writing, even though I very seldom see them directly, is leftover from that period of my life when I didn't have confidence in myself. That's why I often turn to the numbers of people who are reading my posts and look for comments, and see where the readers are coming to some of my posts from all over the world. This number 1 motive is a big one for me.
      Interestingly, the other three motives for me are exactly in the order that Orwell has placed them. The number two motive for me is Aesthetic Enthusiasms, not so much in the word finding. I am sure that I lack abilities in the pretty prose category. But I do love to write about aestheticism and I like to put together an article with the necessary beginning, middle and end, the conflict and the resolution. I like to impart some knowledge from which I think others would benefit. And of course my frequent writing about nature fits right into this aesthetic category.
      Historical Impulse is less important to me. However, I certainly do include history in my travel writing, since world trips do get very involved in local history. We in the United States are very provincial. Our history courses concentrate on the United States and our connection to Europe especially during the World War II period and since then. Of course this is the rightful path for our history teachers to follow. But unfortunately it leaves out a huge view of the rest of the world. Most of us know nothing about South American history, even less about Indian history until we might visit that country, and of course we think that African history is nothing but tribal warfare and poverty. Yet there are ancient cultures there that my husband and I have learned in our travels are of tremendous value. Also the country of Turkey is a total surprise. There is so much history of mankind there and we who have been educated in America may not even understand how Turkey straddles the European and Asian continent and is the birthplace of the first travels by Biblical humanity (Abraham in Ur.) There is so much to learn from the rest of the world's people.
     Seldom do I write about politics. I have very strong feelings about the various views and on rare occasion I may succumb to the temptation to put my opinions in a post. But for the most part, I keep my views to myself. Especially given the pattern that current political thinking has developed, I think that it is almost worthless to try to change any one's opinion. Everyone has become set in their views and the only thing that I feel a written piece can accomplish is to arouse other's anger. That is not my purpose in these blogs. Therefore, I rate this fourth motive as the very least in my list.
     Whatever the motives, I have always been a frustrated writer.  I have a trunk of hand written journals and individual sheets, from before electronic techniques. I have put together some ideas for fiction and non fiction. But they would require a lot of polishing to get any one of them published in hard print. During my active medical career, it always seemed too much work to prepare any of these for sending out for publication. And now, many of these things I had written do not apply. Or I have forgotten or even changed in my original views on the topic. Because of my laziness, I guess, this blog fills a need for me. The posts are short. I can apply them to our travels, to my life, to my hobbies, to nature, and once in a while to strong views that I have and I can hope that others benefit from these posts. So hopefully you will continue to seek out my blog and look for what is stimulating my interest. Here's to the modern technological world!

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