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Why I Write.

“We need to write to leave a stain upon silence.” –Samuel Beckett

Poetic, indeed: “a stain upon silence.”  Such writing would be a legacy dearly to be wished. At the excellent Mendocino Writer’s Conference a week ago, Nancy Lord, an Alaskan writer, was a keynote speaker on the topic: Why I Write. I listened closely for familiar themes, personal reasons.  Nancy noted that we tell each other stories in order to live, and in fiction we get to try out other lives. The purpose of all art, she said, is to lay bare our ways of being in the world.  Listen to George Orwell’s reasons (1946) still so alive today:

• We write because it is something we just have to do. I want to see my words

in print. Egoism, he argued, as opposed egotism. Perhaps.

• Aesthetic enthusiasm…the pure pleasure of it…shaping words and ideas.

• A historical impulse-to make sense of the world.

• A political purpose-to push the world.

Annie Dillard insisted that in writing we find the compass inside ourselves.

Yesterday, I was joined by co-author Mary Gardner at Copperfields in Napa, California, for a “meet and greet” set of conversations.  I spoke about and signed copies of Cairo Diary: an Egyptian fable; the both of us discussed Women’s Ways of Leading.  Two young girls, ages 8 and 13, stopped by at different times during the afternoon; both said they were writers.  I found myself regaling the wonders of writing: entering other worlds, choosing your roads for travel, the power of listening to your own voice.   I know intimately that Nancy possesses the secrets of writing, as did Beckett, Orwell, Dillard, the two young girls, and our grandson, John Lambert. And, of course, Virginia Woolf.

Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible. (But it is always there)

-Virginia Woolf

Have a great week—and write something each day. More scenes from Cairo Diary next week.  Linda

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 8th, 2010 at 6:15 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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