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Friday, October 26, 2007

Words On Writing - Alex Boyd

In an essay called Why I Write, George Orwell suggests that all writing is political. To paraphrase, he suggests that even if you avoid directly mentioning political methods or views, the writing is still political simply because it wants and pushes in a certain direction. Even a romance novel pushes for the dreamy, interpersonal world it creates in the mind of the reader, and you can call it political. I’m inclined to agree. All along I’ve had a fuzzy notion that all writing works in some direction, although at the same time I defined political writing more rigidly, as a novel about a revolution, for example.

All writing is a kind of faith. Although there are doubtless exceptions, writing often imposes an order on the events and thoughts that occupy the mind of a writer. It takes those thoughts, even if they are horrible, and transfers them to a more manageable framework, like a fishbowl that we can stand above and look inside. We use narrative as a method of understanding, and after a serious disaster can trust the newspapers to begin the process of turning the event into narrative, not only providing examples of the human drama, but a greater context. We turn on our televisions and watch a space shuttle exploding over and over again while the voices of broadcasters scramble to pull a narrative together, to find out who was involved, why this happened, how it can be prevented in the future. Writing brings things into focus, makes them solid, and it whispers in the ear of possible future. To do that, it must believe in a future. Like wanting to have children and planning to care for them, writing is a statement about hope.

[click on the heading to read the essay in full]


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