Reading Response #1

Read:  “Why I Write' by George Orwell

Post a 500 word response to "Why I Write" in the comments section below.  Make sure your first and last name appear with your post.  You are required to post your own response, and comment on a classmate's response.

29 thoughts on “Reading Response #1

  1. Katherine Whelchel

    Katherine Whelchel: Reading Response 1
    There is a somber mood that seems to cover every bit of this article written by George Orwell. As he strives to explain why he writes, I feel that he is simultaneously trying to figure it out himself. His childhood, which is steeped in confusion and loneliness, seems to have led him to an adulthood of similar stature. He addresses his internal struggle between writing what ‘feels good’ and what ‘has meaning’. However, is it a writer’s job to please himself or his audience? George Orwell seems to come to the conclusion that his stories will not be able to come out of his brain, onto a piece of paper, without having political purposes and meanings. Though he can try and mix them with beautiful words and prose, his true motivation is shown. He writes because he feels he must expose injustice and lies.
    Even though it took him a while to dig down to his core and find his true motivation for writing, his novels have greatly impacted the world and even our society today. I’m glad that aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and sheer egoism were overrun in the end, because I believe that writing serves no purpose if it does not make an impact upon the world. George, though struggling with the balance between truth and beauty, is a strong advocate for the importance of meaning. He pointed out that he would not even begin to write without the motivation of truth that must be told, or changes that must be made. With this strong motivation locked down, he can create aesthetically pleasing connections of words and pictures for the reader’s minds that all support his main idea. The beauty of the prose, and even the famous legacy of the writer, all comes first from a powerful and meaningful idea. I am inspired by George’s brief description of why he writes. It reminds me of the importance of impact. Even if what I write only touches a few people, if it communicates truth, light and love, than it has purpose.
    The passion behind a meaningful piece of literature is usually the reason it is powerful and goes on for centuries to impact peoples. When writing simply to write, with no motivation or message to communicate, the piece is left seemingly deflated. The words will fall short and I feel that the writer will be left unfulfilled. Though there is learning and eventually excellence that comes from the practice of regularly writing whatever comes to mind, this too serves the purpose of teaching someone how to express themselves and understand their own thoughts and emotions.
    George Orwell found his true source of motivation for writing, and it all came down to what the motivation actually was. He desired to enlighten his audience of the lies and injustice around him, a powerful desire that would shape his literature and bring life to his stories. This bring me face to face with wondering what my own motivation for writing is. If it is for recognition or legacy, sheer egoism, as George says, then I feel my writing will have no purpose whatsoever.

    Reply
    1. Aubri Stogsdill

      I totally agree with you. What is the purpose of writing if it does nothing for the world around you? As human beings, we deeply desire to have a lasting impact. I enjoyed reading your response!

      Reply
    2. Cassidy Kramer

      Katherine,
      I loved reading your response because it gave me a perspective on his story that I would have never seen. I liked everything you said and what the story made you realize.
      -Cassidy

      Reply
  2. Caitlyn Williams

    Caitlyn Williams
    Reading Response #1

    I enjoyed reading, “Why I Write” by George Orwell because it gave me insight on why people write.I also liked it because of the intricacy in his thoughts and how that shows through in many writers of the 18th century. I found the four motives of writing interesting. I’ve never thought of how the different motives motivate us to write. The four motives were: The desire to be clever, the desire to have good rhythm and good sounds in a story, the desire to learn and preserve historical facts, and the desire to persuade others in a different direction.
    I found these motives were true, and they are the foundation to different types of writing. The desire to persuade shows in persuasive writing, and the desire to have good rhythm and sound shows through in writing poetry and song. The desire to preserve historical facts is found in historical writing or nonfiction. Almost all types of writing show the desire to be clever. It is interesting how George Orwell observed and reiterated this into different motives of writing.
    George Orwell writes about how we must understand a writer’s background to understand their motives. I understood this when he went on to explain how his environment and emotions affected his work greatly. Our work shows more than just a story, it shows our emotions and our thoughts, and I believe that our thoughts and perceptions depend on our environment. Our emotions and thoughts build our background.
    Different backgrounds are attracted to different styles of writing. For example, a person that has a musical background will have the desire to create good rhythms. This will lead them to poetry. A person with a more political background will have the desire to persuade others. This confused me because now, we write what we are told to write about, and that saddened me. Although I was saddened by this, I understand that our background still shows through our work by the words we use, and the voice that our paper has.
    Something that I dislike about this reading is that it is wordy. I’ve noticed that most literary work from the 18th century contains more words that I don’t understand. This connects with Owells’ belief that a writer’s subject matter is determined by the time period he lives in. If the writer is in a bad time in history, his work will show that in varying degrees.
    It peaked my interest because ‘bad’ and ‘good’ times in history depend on the person. A ‘bad’ year may be the best year of someone else, and it still shows through. This goes to show that emotion almost always shows through in any literary work written. I found it interesting also because most early writers wrote intricate literary works, and that influences me to think that it was a more intricate time to be alive. Works done by writers in the early 1900’s show more intricacy and originality, whereas now, we struggle with original ideas and exactness. It’s a different time period, and it shows in the literature written in the 19th century.

    Reply
    1. Ben Knapp

      Hi Caitlyn! I also enjoyed reading why I write for the insight it provides into the mind of Orwell. I found it interesting to see how a man who had lived through both world wars regarded them, and how it affected him as a person. I also agree with you that it is interesting to read books from the 19th century. Your writing is interesting and sums up the text well. I look forward to reading more.

      Reply
  3. Naimy Schommer

    I think the four-part categorization presented for why one would write piques an interest in self-examination; it completely rounds a writer’s intention, and presents the challenge of identifying the percentage of each category in oneself. It would be interesting to look back on some well-known authors and apply these classifications to their writings. Take Shakespeare for example: originally, his skill could have been applied according to (ii) Aesthetic Enthusiasm, but at some point during his career (i) Sheer Egoism must have come into some sort of play; once one tastes success, more must be had and it becomes a goal. If we look at Aldous Huxley, we can immediatly identify (iv) Political Purpose with the influence of (iii) Historical Impulse in most of his writings. However, “Brave New World” sparkles as a stand-alone aesthetic work in addition to combating new issues taking root in the 1930’s.
    It’s interesting to think of a writer’s purpose being a mix of motivations instead of just one concrete intent. Traditionally, it’s easier to dissect a work under the microscope of singular motivation, but the influence of combination opens a bottomless mug of possibility. I recall the opening of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” in which he begins chapter one of his famous horror story with: “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents”. This bold statement is meant to set the reader up to fear the unknown and, in association, his horror story, but in relation to the topic of interpreting a writer’s general motivation for writing, I am quite comforted by its definitive assertion.
    I think its okay to be unsure of a writer’s true motivation; uncertainty adds something to an interpretive medium. Writing is art and art is subjective, so the true ‘why’ of it matters less than the ‘why’ the reader interprets from it; what a reader pulls from a piece is more important that what the writer put into it. Don’t get me wrong, both are important and necessary-usually, they are similar.
    I myself would like to think I am motivated by (iii) Historical Impulse and (i) Aesthetic Enthusiasm. (iii) Historical Impulse demands a certain unwavering sense of truth and consistent interpretations of the world around you. Traits what would equip this category would be rational stubbornness, a quick eye, and a sharp memory; the ability to recall what you see and be confident in what you derive from it. My personal downfalls in this area lie between irrational stubbornness and a tendency to overthink.
    (i) Aesthetic Enthusiasm has to have at least a foothold in every writer’s core motivation or otherwise what they write would never be read on account of its lifelessness and unreadability. I personally have a tremendous motivation to explain or describe things in a new and refreshing way; to be the first to string a specific series of words into a sentence.

    Reply
    1. Leah Rego

      Naimy, personally I found his list of motivations somewhat narrow minded. I say this because neither myself, nor my sister, who is also a writer, fit into any of those. Both she and I write because we love stories, we grew up in a household where imagination was prized and creativity encouraged, we made up stories to tell each other at night before bed and developed a real love for the development and creation of stories. Maybe it could be argued that this falls under the category of aesthetic enthusiasm, and we do love to create aesthetically pleasing stories, but we write with the motivation of wonder. I think that Orwell’s unhappiness with writing strongly influences his view on other’s motivations.

      Reply
  4. Aubri Stogsdill

    Behind every action, there is a motivation. For many people, if a motive is stated for a particular action, it is often hidden behind a shroud of false humility, lies really, that prop up the individual’s pride and view of themselves. In an attempt to appear genuinely caring, strong, insightful, or selfless, humans deceive those around them with short sentimental statements like, “I only did it for the sake of so and so,” or “ all I wanted was to help,” or “if you’re happy I’m happy!” Individuals can become so addicted to the positive response they receive to a particular motive that they actually deceive themselves into believing that they do in fact possess such pure selflessness motivations, untainted by a filthy narcissistic mentality.

    Orwell has ‘cut the crap’ so to say. He could care less about upholding some sort of prim and proper motive. In his piece, he sets out to honestly discover exactly what it is that drives him to write, and what he seeks to accomplish through said writing. As he delves in and processes the events that lead him to where he was at the time of this composition it is clear that the source for his motivation to write has shifted over the years. At the beginning, we see a lonely little boy that feels the need to redeem himself; a child that runs away and creates for himself a more perfect and picturesque reality. As time goes on, Orwell falls in love with words, he experiences the pleasure of pros and simultaneously, recognizes that within every serious writer there is simply a soul that wants to be recognized, remembered, and noteworthy.

    Eventually, we get down to one of Orwell’s primary motivation to write which is to fight for a cause and to communicate what he believes through his unique and artistic perspective. Orwell sought to fight injustice with a pin. This writing was not simply done for Orwell’s pleasure, rather this writing is done because there is something that needs to be said. Orwell would write when there was a fire deep in his belly. While the creation of a book of this nature is far from easy for him, or anyone to write, Orwell recognizes the value that this type of input adds to the world. His passion is to take political writing and make it into art, to say things that simply must be said, and to make aesthetically pleasing work. While he is unable to decide which of these things is the primary motivator for his writing, it seems that there is a level of clarity and surety by the end that was not present at the start.

    It seems that most people generally fail to identify the origin of their motivation. Instead, they run around doing all types of things and never really check themselves, so to say. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’? Perhaps it would do us well, as a society, if we took this pop culture phrase into consideration more frequently. What drives you? What makes you come alive? At the end of the day, who you are can simply be boiled down to the real motive and intent of your heart.

    Reply
    1. Naimy Schommer

      I like how you chronicle the changes in Orwell himself throughout the piece and thus use him as an example of how these categorized motivations are constructed as fluid over time. Really like how you use the phrase “pleasure of pros” and acknowledge that every human has at least a small desire to be recognized.

      Reply
    2. Mekayla Ruiz

      Hi Aubri,
      It seems that we have very differing opinions about what motivates most individuals to create literary works. Although I agree that as a society, we do need to practice a bit more self-awareness, I think I’m a bit more optimistic about humanity in general. I think that there is an abundant amount of selfishness found in the world today, and that this is something most people struggle with, but there have been so many idealists through-out history that have spread their work with the intention of helping others. I think that that alone encourages some positive outlook not to writers and their motives. George Orwell did have selfish intent, the same as everyone else, but I don’t believe that that’s necessarily a fault. We’re humans, and of course we have personal motivations for most of the things that we do. But its what he did with that motivation, the issues that he himself had with society, that brought good into society.

      Reply
    3. Aundrea Pierce

      Aubri,

      Your response is clear and has a smooth flow to it (something I need to work on). You have an interesting outlook in your first paragraph. I never really thought about our responses to each motive, driving us to “deceive” ourselves or our true nature. That makes sense though because people love rewards so to speak. I also like the term you used, “redeem”, to describe Orwell’s motive for his later writings. I feel the same way, which is another motive for taking this course. Would you mind sharing some of your motives for writing? I’m still pondering this question myself.

      Aundrea

      Reply
  5. Michelle Cordova

    “Why I Write” by George Orwell is a descriptive piece that helps the reader gain an understanding as to why Orwell wanted to write and what pushed him to write the way he did. It also explains that all writers must write with a purpose, or at least some form of motivation. His story was incredibly motivating and informative, yet felt somewhat dark and depressing at times. For Orwell, feeling neglected as a middle child of three, along with other life experiences such as war and poverty, coupled with his political awareness, gave him a backbone which allowed him to write with a goal, not just for pleasure, as he got older. He explains that he was essentially born to write, but even with a strong imagination as a child, found difficulty in putting heart into his work until he found what excited him the most. He also described a portion of his teenage years when he was involved in editing the school magazine, which he exclaimed was “pitiful stuff,” again showing the reader that his work was anything buy heartfelt during that time.

    Orwell continued on about a general sense of writing where meaningless sentences create lifeless books. I, personally, appreciate the “decorative adjectives” and novels that take me out of this world and jolt me into one that may otherwise be difficult for me to create. However, I have never been a great writer, so I assume my fascination stems from jealousy! George Orwell also describes, in great detail, the four motives for writing (sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political impulse) found in all writers at different life stages, and I feel that he is incredibly accurate in his descriptions. As we age, some aspects become more influential to us while other things become less significant, and it is important to let this show in our work. I believe that what he is saying here is to write about the things that are meaningful to you in your current life stage in order to be genuine, whether it is comical, poetic, political, etc., because chances are, your purpose for writing will change as the world and ideas around you change.

    I feel like the overall message in “Why I Write” by George Orwell is to be passionate in your creations and to let your life lessons guide you, whether it involves writing or not. We are all incredibly different and our experiences and feelings vary dramatically, even if a writers’ motives are, more or less, comparable. As Orwell stated, every book is a failure, so I believe that the only way to be a success is to write with zeal and create something that you can be proud of. Of course, not every book is literally a failure, but the point is that you cannot always please everyone, no matter your profession, but you can be honest and raw, which has the capability to resonate with other human beings and spread your ideas and feelings to others.

    Reply
    1. Jessica Honebein

      I totally agree with you that his description of motives for writers is spot on. I think that him being a writer himself has helped him come to this conclusion. I like that you drew a conclusion to what he really was trying to say in “Why I Write.” I think that you make a really good point about it not only being passion for writing but whatever takes our creativity. I do think that Orwell is correct that life experiences in general can have a huge impact on the way your “passion” turns out and how we all go about our passion.

      Reply
  6. Ben Knapp

    Ben Knapp
    bcknapp@alaska.edu
    ENGL 270-2
    Christie Hinrichs
    01/18/18

    Why George Orwell Writes

    In George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write”, he provides an autobiographical description of his journey as a writer, as well as how the events of his life make him who he is. It follows his travels through turbulent times, and how the various obstacles of his life helped to shape the author of many well known novels.
    In the text, George Orwell describes his younger days of writing, recounting how he was never quite happy with his results. This connects to me because I have also tried writing numerous times and have never been quite happy with the results. However, I try not to let these less than successful attempts discourage me, as did Orwell. Orwell’s successes inspire me to keep writing even if I meet obstacles.
    The essay also provides insight into the world view of Orwell. He describes his experiences in the troubled world of the early 1900’s, and how it shaped his political views. Having watched WW1 lead to WW2, Orwell probably had a very grim view of humanity and its future. His opinions surfaced often in his writings, as he admits when writing about his book Animal Farm. This is interesting because it provides a view into the mind of someone who had lived through both World Wars and the time in-between.
    Orwell describes working for the imperial police in Burma, and how it affected his views on imperialism. He recounts how his politics were affected by the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, and finally the Second World War. His experiences as a journalist, his observation of the World Wars, and his time in Burma all led him towards believing in democratic socialism, which is evident in many of his books.
    Overall, the essay is an enjoyable read. The composition is logical and concise, with the events arranged mainly in a chronological order, making the text clear and enjoyable to read. I personally would have enjoyed more details when he was describing some of his earlier writings, as he could be a little vague when describing them. The poem included in the text was a welcome addition, helping to tie all his various points together, as well as breaking up what might have become the monotony of the text.
    In conclusion, I would call Orwell’s essay a success. Other than a few vague points in the opening paragraphs, it wanted for very little. It answered many potential questions, as well as providing a sample of his work. I find many of Orwell’s writings to be exceptional, and “Why I Write” is no exception.

    Works Cited:
    Orwell, George. “Why I Write.” Gangrel, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 24 July, 2004,
    https://engl270.community.uaf.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/753/2015/05/Why-I-Write-Orwell.pdf. Accessed 17 January. 2018. Class handout.

    Reply
    1. jdhartman

      I also felt like the essay was inspiring in a way as Orwell seemed very realistic about the fact that writing something successful is difficult. And despite his self-proclaimed short-comings as a writer he was still successful. His account, to me, is one that inspires but also tries to keep things realistic.

      Reply
  7. Mekayla Ruiz

    I really found myself connecting with George Orwell in his article, “Why I Write.” He described the unsettled state of his emotions as a child and the way he grew longing for more because of these circumstances. This unhappiness and dissatisfaction is really what caused him to begin questioning his surroundings, to really rise above the masses, and show himself as a sort of revolutionary thinker. I have never been much of a writer, but I understand the sort of sadness that can go into making any form of art. I do not think content people really have the need to create things, and that it is unhappy children, often times neglected, that really branch out and try to creatively fill a void in their lives. That is not to say that happy people cannot create beautiful things, but I really do believe that sometimes it takes a trauma to really kickstart a person to explore their own talents and to find solace in themselves, the things that they can create, and the beauty found in simpler things.

    It was also really reassuring to find out that George Orwell did not really find his writing career until much later in his life, although writing was his lifelong passion. I think a lot of us, especially going to college, can relate to this. I know many fellow students that began school pursuing their passion, whether that be art, music, or writing, just to abandon the degree for something much more practical. This really pushed me to think about how I myself had abandoned my childhood aspirations. I also liked when he brought up how his political agenda often influenced his work, and how he rarely tamed it down for his audience. It really shows character to be so unrelenting about an idea that he really believed in, even though it may have compromised his work and the credibility of it.

    The integrity that George Orwell has to himself, his art, and to his beliefs is really inspiring. He approached this article with such honesty and so much self-reflection that it made it nearly impossible not to relate to, and I really think that is how he intended this piece. I think that he wanted the reader to question themselves and the path that they had chosen, along with the passions that they may have neglected along the way. He made a great example of himself for this argument so that maybe he could provide some guidance and influence some positive change. I think what really stuck with me was when Orwell said, “I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood.” After reading “Why I Write,” I think that I will start on my own path of self-analysis and exploration. On this path, I aspire to find exactly what I want to live for, the changes that I’d like to see in the world, and hopefully rediscover what used to fill my childhood with growth and wonder.

    Reply
    1. Caitlyn Williams

      I love your response to the reading! I completely agree with your belief that trauma kickstarts self exploration. Trauma enhances simple beauty in my opinion. After traumatic experiences, one becomes grateful. This leads to different perspectives of things around them, and they find beauty in the simple acts of everyday life. Your voice in this response is powerful, and I see the heart in your work. It shows that you’re a great writer when the audience is moved by your work, and I admire that.
      I really love your last paragraph and the way you write about how Orwell’s piece is easily relatable because of his honesty. Overall, your response is great and I really enjoyed reading it! It inspires me to look more into self exploration, and find out more about myself.

      Reply
    2. Michelle Cordova

      Hi Mekayla!
      I truly enjoyed reading your response to “Why I Write.” I completely agree that sometimes it takes the occurrence of tragic event to really allow someone to open up and express themselves freely, but I also feel that everyone has the capability to create a work of art. I feel that there are things that motivate all of us to some degree, whether its to be a good parent, a better teacher, friend, etc., but what is great about the world we live in is that we are allowed to choose our passions and follow them to the extent we wish. I also agree that his article was inspiring and easy to relate to, on many levels. He had a way of opening up about himself that really helps the reader reflect on their own life, goals, and passions. Great post!

      Reply
  8. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    Sierra Rusell-McCollum
    Reading Response #1

    “Why I Write” by George Orwell was a very descriptive piece of the story of why he writes. It begins with Orwell starting back to when he was a very early age and how he knew he was going to be a writer when he grew up. But he also describes the challenges he faced when he was young. For example, his father not being there for him and ultimately letting that affect his character. He was an awkward kid at school and tended to be bullied for his ways of doing things. But none of that made him stop writing. He wasn’t the best writer when he was young and usually didn’t finish the pieces he was working on, but as he became older his writing blossomed. He soon began writing pieces for his schools, such as editing magazines and writing plays. In the end, this helped him become a better writer and the more he wrote he began getting an idea of what type of novels he wanted to write.
    After explaining his background Orwell describes the importance of writing and the steps you must take to become a better writer. Orwell begins to share the four great motives of writing with the reader which are sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. He explains how the three motives cold outweigh the fourth but in the end, these motives are all important to add to your writing. Orwell also talks about how he wants to create political writing into an art. He begins talking about the book he wrote about the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia, he explains how he most likely wasn’t entirely politically correct but the way he wrote the book made it believable and that is the art of writing. You must know how to smoothly write your work so people won’t question it right away.
    While reading this piece I found that I really enjoyed it. There were many points when I could relate to is problems. For example when he couldn’t finish his writing when he was younger. There was a faze that I happened to go through where anything I wrote I would get writer’s block and throw out the piece I was working on. It was frustrating but once I found my groove I began writing more like Orwell did. I also enjoyed when he added his own poem into the piece, I have never read his writing before so actually seeing his work was pretty cool. For someone who struggled with writing when he was younger, you wouldn’t be able to tell. HIs motivation to keep trying when it came to writing is contagious, I’m inspired to go finish some of my pieces that I abandoned. I also got the message that it is okay to not have the motivation to write all the time if you force it will most likely not turn out. Patients is key when writing a piece and if you put your heart into it it can become something good.

    Reply
    1. Corbin Knapp

      Hi Sierra!,
      I agree that his childhood influenced his writing early on, His frustration at not being able to finish his work is shared by me even now. Orwell is right that there are many motives for writing, but I feel like there are many more than just the four motives he has in his article. Some motives that I sometimes have are writing because it’s required of me, and writing just because there is nothing better to do. Patience is indeed the key for successful writing, which is why many of the pieces I write tend to not be successful. I also like how you said that if you put your heart into your work you can make something great. I totally agree!
      I enjoyed reading your review,
      Cheerio!

      Reply
    2. Aundrea Pierce

      Sierra,
      I too have a few unfinished pieces saved in my documents. Some things I go back and read and I either have a positive reaction “wow not bad” or cringe “seriously, I wrote that?!”. Orwell’s piece has inspired me to think about my past motives and current motives, since they’re interchangeable. Out of curiosity, next time I read my past unfinished writings I’ll reflect on where I was at in life and my motives. You should too!
      Aundrea

      Reply
  9. Aundrea Pierce

    In his piece, “why I write” by George Orwell reflects on his past life events which leads him to discover motives on why he writes. The words he uses to describe his struggles since childhood makes me feel sympathetic towards him because his depictions have a regretful tone. He describes gloomy past influences which aided for or against his intention to write. For example, the Spanish war in 1936 had swayed him to write in a manner against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, whether aware or unaware of this effect. This gets me curious about what political or external influences assist or discourages modern day writers? What drives us to write in the fashion in which we write?
    Through his conflicting experience as a writer, he discovers the four motives that apply to all writers; sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. He reveals that no matter the time in any writer’s life, these four aspects contribute to all people at varying degrees. “I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in” (par.7)
    I could relate to much of his interpretations. In the first paragraph, he mentions how he knew he was destined to one day become a writer at an early age. Then he admits he tried to abandon this idea even though he knew his motive for writing would still remain. This was a good way to hook the reader’s attention because the majority of writers can connect with this on some personal level. The words he uses such as “abandon”, “failure”, “Shivers”, “war”, “demon” etc. gives his accounts a bit of an angry tone or a feeling of hatred. Maybe he’s angry that his true passion for writing was interfered with?
    “It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write.” (par.8)
    I like how he words this because he describes the life-long struggles for writers fulfilling their passion as if it’s a lose-lose battle. Our early influences and natural motives work hand in hand. Personally, I feel I got “stuck” at an immature stage shortly after middle school around the time of 9/11. While I was deterred from writing fiction, during this confusing time I feel I was able to explore and develop new inspirations that I can now apply to my current writings.
    Generally speaking Orwell’s “why I write” seems to be a heartfelt humble attempt to reveal that writers are born with motives to write, however external influences throughout life can alter/hinder your drive. His personal outlook helps to inspire readers to reflect on their own motives, potential, and influences. One word that keeps popping up in my head is self-awareness. To be a good writer you have to be aware of your influences. How much will you allow these influences to alter your true nature?

    George Orwell
    O. Dag – https://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw

    Reply
  10. Corbin Knapp

    Corbin Knapp
    clknapp3@alaska.edu
    ENGL 270 — 2
    Christie Hinrichs
    1/18/2018

    George Orwell Reading Review

    George Orwell‘s “Why I Write” describes his affection for writing even at an early age. The article relates his ideas on the inspiration for authors to write. Although I agree with most of Orwell‘s article, I disagree with some passages. I can relate with Orwell, because I enjoyed writing at an early age as well. However, I hardly ever finish the stories I start. His struggles to write without being biased in some way also spoke to me , because I have trouble writing papers in a neutral fashion.

    One of the ideas I disagree with Orwell on, is the belief that the only motives for writing are the ones he believes in. I don’t think that the only motives for writing are seeming to be clever and craving attention, writing just because of the sheer thrill of writing, writing because of historical impulse, or for political purpose. There are many other motives for writing , such as just writing for fun, writing because it is required of you, and writing a poem or short story just to past the time.

    What this article taught me is that there are many different ways that a writer can express what they feel, no matter if they write an article for a newspaper or if they write propaganda. Orwell seems to think that all writers have at least one of the motives stated in his article, and that it is the nature of writers to be vain, selfish, and lazy. I do not agree with this statement. Everyone is different and to say that all writers share the same traits is simplistic.

    Orwell seemed to enjoy writing, yet he says in this article that his writings have been filled with mistakes and “humbug generally” (Orwell 6), even though he has written popular pieces such as Animal Farm. He also stated that after the Spanish War his serious writings were against totalitarianism and backing democratic socialism. He wrote that when he made a book it was not for the pleasure of writing, but for exposing some lie that he thought was unjust.

    This was an interesting article to read, providing me with a new view on the motives that Orwell believed motivated people to write. He believed every person followed at least one of the motives stated in the article to some degree. Orwell made it seem that to write a book without any bias was nearly impossible. He tells us about a book he wrote that would’ve been unbiased except for a long chapter full of newspaper quotations and the like which put into words in a quote from the article. “You’ve turned what might have been a good book into journalism”(Orwell 5). I think Orwell was a good writer and this article is a good read, even if I don’t agree with everything he wrote. Orwell‘s pessimistic view of humanity is not a view I share and I try to believe that people write because they enjoy writing.

    Works Cited:
    Orwell, George. “Why I Write.” Gangrel, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 24 July, 2004,
    https://engl270.community.uaf.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/753/2015/05/Why-I-Write-Orwell.pdf. Accessed 17 January. 2018. Class handout.

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  11. Jessica Honebein

    Jessica Honebein- Reading Response #1

    George Orwell wrote an interesting piece, “Why I Write” keying in on his emotions and thoughts about writing. Orwell at his core really believed that he wanted to write, that he was born to write. However he did not just give into writing, he fought it. He talks about how he finally wrote a little when he was young, but the writing did not always come with success. Orwell shares the feelings that influenced his writings, including loneliness and despair. He believes that his childhood helped to influence/ impact his writing. I think that his journey of writing is very relatable considering that in the beginning he explains some of his failures and how those failures are valuable to his writing.

    When I started reading this I automatically picked up on the strong link there seems to be between his childhood and the way that he wants to write and express himself through his writing. He makes it very clear that writing is what he wants to do and that through his writing he does not want to bore anyone, but grab their attention and continue to hold onto it. He tells us this through repetition, an example passage, and imagery. He painted pictures, such as him being a lonely school child, to help the reader understand who he really is and experience his life with him. I like that he included an excerpt from “Paradise Lost” to help explain how he likes to play with words and how it helped him shape what kind of books that he wanted to write. He gives insight on the writings he likes to read when he talks about what he wants to write. He also really loved words and the way they sounded, I gathered that he wanted to put words together to tell stories in a meaningful matter.

    Orwell had a clear map of why writing is an atmosphere and how it affects a lifestyle. He has a good point about egoism and politics. I like that he highlights the nature of a writer’s work and how it changes throughout a person’s life. I also like how Orwell is completely honest about what brings his passion for writing, like the exposure of lies. I think that the honesty from him makes it easier to read his writing, he does not try to hide anything behind his words. I think that he appeals to him readers by being very truthful with himself and with others about his writing as well as other people’s writing. I think that this is relatable because, like he said at the end, he is not covering his words up anymore he is speaking honestly and has found a purpose in his writing. Overall I think that Orwell is trying to describe his motives and relate to the reader by also describing there motives to write as well. He seems to think that he automatically falls into that role of egocentric writer, throwing every motive to write as an excuse to step into the writers atmosphere.

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  12. Cassidy Kramer

    Cassidy Kramer
    Reading Response 1
    George Orwell’s “Why I Write” is a piece that not only talks about himself as a writer, but also touches on the motives of most writers. Out of the four motives for writing that Orwell mentions, sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose, I think that the one I relate to the most right now is aesthetic enthusiasm. Throughout our life with new experiences, I believe that our motives to write will change. We can have multiple motives at once, and we even can have no motives.
    I relate to Orwell in some ways, and I don’t in others. In the beginning of the paper, he tells the reader that he knew that he wanted to grow up to be a writer. Even when he did “abandon” the idea of being a writer, he still felt that he needed to write. I was, and am not like this. I love writing, but I think of it more as a hobby instead of a career, and I don’t have a need to do it.
    I did not write throughout my childhood, and even though Orwell claims that his writing was terrible as a child, I think that it could have been better than most adult’s work. I have looked at papers I have done in middle school, and they were horrible. I still have a lot of improving to do with my writing, but I am glad that to see that I have improved on it since middle school. I liked how Orwell tells us that his writing as a kid was not good. He developed into this great writer and it helped me realize that we all don’t start off the best.
    What I do relate with Orwell on is how he thinks from day to day. I am an Inupiaq that grew up in a rural town above the Arctic circle. I love to live out my culture and a part of the culture is subsistence. The main things I like to write about are my experiences out in the country. I like to put them into very descriptive details, and since I have figured this out, I have started to narrate what I see and feel while I am traveling on a snow machine, boat, or by foot. I even catch myself doing this while I am gutting caribou, skinning foxes, pulling seals into the boat, etc… These are the things that I love doing, and I love sharing my experiences with others through writing.
    I have learned a lot about writing from Orwell’s paper, and even figured out more about why I write. Something I learned was that George Orwell wrote Animal Farm. I don’t read often, so I don’t know a lot of authors. It was a surprise to me to realize that the humble writer who is telling me about how he started writing and why he writes, is the same person that wrote the book that is in most curriculums around the United States.

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  13. Leah Rego

    “I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in” This quote by George Orwell certainly rings true in his writing, but it also shows in his opinion of the purpose of writing prose, as well as in his opinion of his own writing. He speaks extensively of the political motivations behind his writing and his belief that there is some political motivation behind every writers works. I believe that this is more a reflection of the time in which Orwell lived than a truth about writers in general. While indeed most people, wether writers or not, have political opinions and these opinions may show through in their writing, I do not agree that they all have what could be considered a political motivation.

    I find it surprising to read that Orwell had such a negative opinion of his work, not just his early writings, but his body of work as a whole. He stated that “I have not written a novel for seven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon. It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure.” I do not understand how someone could continue to pursue a path with a view of such dire failure.

    While I don’t agree with much of what Orwell wrote regarding his opinions of the motivations of writers; I think that his thorough introspective view of his own drive and motivations is very insightful. It is amazing that he has such a categorical knowledge of his early works, as well as such a realistic view of the quality, or lack thereof, of that work. I think that those who are artistic in nature often find themselves in one of two mindsets, those who think everything they do is at least good, if not great; and those who cannot view any of their creations in a positive light. For some, no level of success is adequate to validate their talent and work, I think that in many ways Orwell is of this mindset. He defends his reasoning behind the things that he has written, while stating matter of factly that “every book is a failure” this makes me wonder if Orwell found any joy in his drive to write, or only an endless compulsive drudgery.
    Orwell states that “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.” There is no joy portrayed by this statement, quite the contrary. It seems, by his own admission, that Orwell only wrote as an outlet for his compulsive nature. He was driven by this compulsion, not to tell a story, just to write. I don’t think I will ever be able to read his works in the same light as in the past, this admission will likely be a shadow over every word. This knowledge that on the other end of the pen was a soul so tortured by his muse, and so unable to stop doing what he did so well but clearly did not love at all.

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  14. T Gordon

    While reading George Orwell’s “Why I Write,” I thought about both the (very common) commonality I had with Orwell during my early life, as well as how Orwell was deeply influenced, and even purpose-driven from the tumult of the age in which he lived.
    I greatly identified with George Orwell when he discusses how he always wanted to be a writer, but actually produced very few pieces for the first quarter of his life. I was much the same way–I certainly had the imagination to dream up ideas, but I had a much harder time putting pen to paper. It seems that for Orwell, a clear goal was the solution. Perhaps a goal is necessary for me to begin writing prolifically as well.
    I love how Orwell spoke to the significance of the historical and political influences that affected his writing. Like Orwell suggests, we are undoubtedly affected by the times we are living in–even if we do not necessarily realize it when we are writing. In times of relative peace and prosperity we may write one way, and during times of war or economic calamity, our style may drastically change. A large sphere of domestic and world events affects us throughout our lives– war, threats to national safety, economic downturns, population fluctuations, and the increasing lack of privacy are just some events and general feelings that wax and wane throughout our lives, whether we pay attention to the latest news cycle or not. In Orwell’s case, he was deeply affected by the worldwide struggle between totalitarianism and democratic socialism.
    Orwell himself recognizes that his writing was generally very upfront about revealing the unsettling spread of totalitarianism and government surveillance. For example, many details of 1984 were quite explicit about constant monitoring and supreme rule, such as the inclusion of the telescreen that monitored the homes and the people within them. Even with this overt ambition to convince his readers that he is correct about the consequences of totalitarianism, he did not just produce uncreative diatribes; his works were much more thoughtful than that. This ability impresses and inspires me to do the same in my work– to make the message clear, but elegantly delivered. I wonder how the politics of now will influence writers of my generation. Will there be primarily one interpretation when today’s news becomes history?
    Orwell also adds that our writing style is also affected by our interpersonal relationships. In his case, being a middle child with a sizeable age gap in between his siblings and not having seen his father before the age of eight, his “literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued.” In many times of our lives, we may feel insecure, whether financially, romantically, and I believe it can be sometimes impossible to separate your experiences when character building, writing plot twists, or figuring out the beginning of your story. I see this as a great thing–this is what makes writers unique from one another, making reading a true journey of discovery.

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  15. jdhartman

    Reading Response #1
    Josh Hartman
    In George Orwell’s essay, Why I Write, he mentions that there are four non-monetary reasons why people write. I think the most important reason is, as he puts it, the “historical impulse”. Orwell doesn’t expand much on this reason. It is the reason that scientists and journalists write – to pursue the truth.
    The writing of history and science has significantly helped society get to the point that it has. This is also similar to the way that Orwell refers political purpose. He states that his writing to to point out injustice and totalitarianism.
    Orwell wants his writing to make a difference. It would seem that he probably has considering the books that he is most famous for.
    Near the end of the essay Orwell makes an interesting statement that is not referred to again.
    “I have not written a novel for seven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon,” Orwell writes. “It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure, but I do know with some clarity what kind of book I want to write.”
    I think it would be interesting to know what he meant by stating “every book is a failure.” Maybe he is stating that if, at least in part, every writer wants to change the world, every book is going to be a failure. The world is too complicated to change with one novel.
    Maybe Orwell is just saying that no one or book is perfect.
    At the very end of the essay, Orwell mentions the reality of writing.
    “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness,” Orwell writes. “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.”
    I think that this is a very accurate take on writing, but also on anything worth doing. Also for things that might not be considered worth doing. A lot of artists, scientists and members of every other profession do things that make them unhappy. They do them anyway because that thing is important, or beautiful, or influential to them.
    I appreciate that he compares this drive to do things that are difficult to biological instincts which humans are born with. People want to have a purpose.

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