Why We Write


After that vent about book promo blues, I decided to quieten down and bury myself in a book again. I picked up Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, something I bought a while back but left dusty on my bedside table (for now, my preference is to escape to fictional worlds before I sleep).

It was such a comforting read. These are such famous, highly accomplished writers but they were so down-to-earth and authentic in their sharing. I’m reminded once more how hopeless and difficult a writing career can be at times, and yet, all these writers choose it because they simply have to. Here are my favourite bits:

“When I’m writing… I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now…and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.” —Jennifer Egan

“Every story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumour, and I have to deal with it sooner or later.” —Isabel Allende

“I try to write books I wish other people had written, books I wish I’d read. People always say I’m arrogant when I talk about this, but I think I’m one of the few people who’s honest about what Orwell called ‘the historical impulse’. I want to write historically important books, books that matter, books that change the world, that change writing and publishing.” – James Frey

“Your publisher is a frenemy in the most pure sense. You pretend you’re on the same team but in many ways, you’re not. You don’t want them to see the slightest shred of weakness because you don’t want them to begin to question the project or their belief in you. So instead of saying, ‘I don’t have a fucking clue how to do this book; give me more time,’ you say, ‘It’s a breeze, I can do it in my sleep.’ ” – Susan Orlean

Speak Your Mind