“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
-George Orwell (Why I Write)
Back in the year 1946, long before the whole world has ever heard of his name, Eric Arthur Blair – soon to be immortalized as George Orwell – wrote an essay (along with other fellow writers) for the summer issue of a quarterly literary magazine aptly named Gangrel.
In this timeless essay that was, with no hint of exaggeration, read by millions and adored by thousands, Orwell invites us to sit in the passenger seat as he drives us through memory lane, recounting his journey as a writer. He waxed eloquently about his stance on political matters and his somewhat humble roots.
But, above all else, in these pages, you’ll see his love for his craft bleed through every word he interposed. It’s as if he’s being possessed by an ancient spirit that enables its host to posit statements that hit the very core of our being. He put a magnifying glass on the things that we shy away from, shining a light on every dark crevice of our society, and exposing them for the whole world to see.
The Purpose of Writing
He believed that if one were to take on this noble cause of writing, one must not be in it for the money, but for the simple, albeit lofty goal, of changing the world for the better.
Writing, in his eyes, has no other purpose than that. Every other reason is just a perversion of the truth.
Inspired by this call to action, I decided to write my short discourse to all weary artists in the hopes that somehow, this piece would reignite the flame that once burned ever so brightly when they first put their pen to paper. Not leaving the odd men out, may this piece also find its way to all fledgling writers (such as me) who have found their voices drowned out by the overwhelming surge of distraction this era has produced.
We Write to Understand the World
We write to understand the things that are revolving on our planet, accepting the fact that we are still unaware of all the mysteries that have yet to be answered by humanity.
No matter how big we think of ourselves, compared to the vastness of the galaxies, we are just a speck of dirt in the grander scheme of things. But still, we are blessed with the gift of autonomy and free-thinking among all creatures; we can debate and observe with the people around us the things that boggle our minds. Therefore, use these gifts wisely.
We are not afraid of asking the hard questions that have plagued humanity ever since time immemorial. For it is our duty as writers to search every crevice of this earth, and to tap into the magic of the cosmos, unlocking the treasure trove of stories that will tingle the ears of our readers.
We Write to Understand Others
We write because we have yet to fully grasp the inner workings of other human beings. Because, if there’s one thing that life has taught us, it is that there is more to people than what meets the eye.
Human beings are complex, intricate, and complicated creatures. You could spend a whole lifetime with someone, and yet you still won’t understand the things that make a person who they are. That is why every human interaction is fascinating - there is always something new to discover about another person, even if you’ve already known each other for so long.
To think of others as mere caricatures that you could bend to your liking is a fool’s errand, It is also inconsiderate, to say the least. That is why others choose to build fences; for it keeps them safe from all the judgment that society has attached to them.
It is through our writing that we are able to break through to them, eliminating the imaginary wall that keeps us from knowing them truthfully. Laying hold of the fact that the power our words hold can transcend any obstruction known to man.
We Write to Spark Change
We write because of the numerous injustices our society has turned a blind eye to, knowing that the only thing worse than the sin of the commission is the sin of omission.
With the current political climate, it’s easy to be indifferent to the plethora of issues our society’s been weathering for the past few months.
To make matters worse, social media is filled with stories that not only exaggerate propaganda but also outcast those who have taken a neutral stand against the said propaganda, labeling them as unpatriotic or insensitive to their so-called “good cause”.
The responsibility has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of writers to clear the air of toxic chemicals that poison the minds of the populace–liberating from the shackles of deceit and treachery.
We know for a fact that it is through fear and passivity that tyrannical dictators gain their power, and in the eternal struggle between good and evil, we have a say in the shaping of our country’s destiny. if only we wholly believe that the future is still unwritten and that the power to change it is right at our fingertips.
We Write to Ourselves
We write to explore the depths of our souls, wondering how many more secrets we can uncover inside the caverns of our minds.
In our constant search for enlightenment, writing is, without a doubt, one way of the quickest paths to get there.
In writing we silence the demons that are screaming at us in the confines of our psyches, urging us to throw in the towel, telling us that we’re good for nothing. It takes off the baggage that most of us have lived with, and has now enabled us to engage more with others in the process.
It [writing] also makes us feel understood because truth be told, we often feel out of place and out of touch with the people around us. We, therefore, create characters and companions that will stick closer to us than a brother– staving off that desire to be truly heard and seen.
At the end of the day, we know that death would soon come knocking at our doors, waiting to be paid its due. So, we continue telling the stories that are still left within us, hoping that the people we leave behind would hold on to every shred of memory we left on this earth.
Tell Your Story
It is your duty, then, to tell the greatest story you could ever tell. For there are no bad stories, only bad storytellers.
Speak to them in fables; tales that came from the very fiber of your being, ones that are pure and unadulterated, having an imprint of the soul that was given to you by the Almighty.
Take time to hone your craft, and to sharp every blade that is in your tool shed. So that when the opportune time arrives, you’ll be so good that others just stop and listen to what you have to say.
Because, when the dusk has finally settled, it is your legacy, you owe it to yourself to make the most out of it.
Well, what are you waiting for? It’s about time for the world to hear your voice.
About the Author
Joshua Miguel is an external contributor for the VONAS X Blog. Graduated from Colegio de San Juan de Letran - Manila and is passionate about using writing as an avenue to express his inner workings.
Text by Joshua Miguel
Copy by Oliver Tabernilla
All rights are reserved.