Orwell's "Why I Write"

Stumbled on George Orwell's magnificent essay "Why I Write" recently. Hadn't read it in years, and it's something that every writer should take a look at every once in a while.
"...All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally."

So with that in mind, here's this from 1984...

"To be a minority of one doesn't make one mad..." Sidestepping the potential double-speak there, I shall embrace this thought as I struggle onward.


Suzan Harden said…
George Orwell's '1984' is the singularly scariest thing I've ever finished because it's true. It perfectly describes American corporate life, the same corporate life I entered in 1984 and fled in 2006 for my health and sanity.

Very smart man.
I'm also a huge fan of 1984, and over the last few years, I've often found occasion to think of it. Especially during the election cycle.
Anonymous said…
Oh Joni, now I have to find 1984 and read it again. When I was 12 years old The Minneapolis Star serialized it. Every night I would hurry home from school (over two miles, up hill and through deep snow) to read the new chapter. For a 12 year old, living in the cold war years, it was the most daring and scary story I had ever read. If I remember right, they started the serial at the same time it was published. What a way to get kids to read the paper. Anyway, that's when I read it. Be Fantastic. Dad
Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks for sharing that here, Dad. I never knew the book was serialized in the newspaper. What a brave thing for them to do! And what a cool kid you must have been. (But I already knew that.)

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