Why We Write —

Do you ever wonder why, if you write, that you do so?

This morning’s Writer’s Almanac, a great daily read if you’re interested in writers and writing and other such trivial pursuits, brought this quote from E.B. White, essayist and author of children’s classics Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web (not to mention co-author, with William Strunk, of the magisterial manual, The Elements of Style):

White wrote in a letter to his brother:

“I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace. […] The rewards of such endeavor are not that I have acquired an audience or a following, as you suggest (fame of any kind being a Pyrrhic victory), but that sometimes in writing of myself β€” which is the only subject anyone knows intimately β€” I have occasionally had the exquisite thrill of putting my finger on a little capsule of truth, and heard it give the faint squeak of mortality under my pressure, an antic sound.”

He could have been talking about many of us bloggers. Many of us write of ourselves, and the small things of our days, and heaven knows many of us have no large audience or following, and yet —

And yet I think all of us occasionally know the intense pleasure of pressing on a little capsule of truth, hearing a faint squeak of mortality, antic in the sense of fantastical and odd, reassuring us that this, this is why we write.Β And it’s enough.

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14 Responses to Why We Write —

  1. Pauline says:

    Ah that squeak! Yes indeedy, that little thrill of discovery, of feeling that, for a moment, one has discovered something worth noting, not only about oneself but about the world at large. To share that brings immense pleasure.

    Like

  2. Rebekah says:

    He expressed it so well … how I feel about it. I write about what I know best — me.

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Did you ever read his essays? Or either of the two children’s books, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web?
      If not, you have a great treat in store!

      Like

      • Rebekah says:

        I have in the back of my mind that I’ve read Stuart Little, but I’m not sure. Will check it out..

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          Of course that’s assuming you like children’s books. Not everyone does, but I adore them.
          Alice in Wonderland is one of the most important books in my life.
          Hope you are having lovely — but not TOO hot— summer weather up there!

          Like

  3. Stef says:

    His words are *beautiful* – as are yours.
    And – I never put 2 & 2 together that the EB White of Charlotte’s Web was the same “White” in Strunk & White…. oh wow!
    You totally just blew my mind, on a few different levels. πŸ™‚

    Like

  4. 2e0mca says:

    Good Blog! My favourite posts are ones where I feel I’ve somehow visited ‘The Undiscovered Country’ in my written thoughts. Doesn’t happen very often – but it does feel good πŸ˜‰

    Charlottes Web was a book we were given to read at school – being a boy, it failed to capture my interest at the time. A Bear Called Paddington was more my style πŸ™‚

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I wonder if Stuart Little (a boy who was a mouse and had many adventures and was quite brave in his own way) would have been more resonant —
      Or, of course, Harry Potter — for older boys —

      Alice in Wonderland did it for me, but I bet that is considered a girl’s book — Then there’s Mary Poppins, who comes from a Harry Potter kind of world, if you think about it — πŸ™‚

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  5. “And yet I think all of us occasionally know the intense pleasure of pressing on a little capsule of truth, hearing a faint squeak of mortality, antic in the sense of fantastical and odd, reassuring us that this, this is why we write. And it’s enough.”

    Yes, Yes, YES!

    Like

  6. Christine Grote says:

    Very nice post and thought. Sometimes I do wonder why I continue to write. E. B. White’s words are inspirational. Thanks for posting them.

    Like

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