Writers on Writing

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

The book, “Journalism: The Democratic Craft,” by Roy Peter Clark and G. Stuart Adam, starts off with some great essays about writing. If you’re a writer, or if you care at all about the written word, you should check them out. They are:

“Why I Write,” by George Orwell

“On Being a Writer,” by V.S. Naipaul

“Why I Write,” by Joan Didion

-“In Good Faith,” by Salman Rushdie

-“The Reason for Stories,” by Robert Stone

A couple of my favorite quotes from these essays are:

* “I felt that to truly render what I saw, I had to define myself as a writer or narrator; I had to reinterpret things.” – Naipaul

* “During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind to deal with the abstract. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on the floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron … and how they looked. A physical fact.” — Didion

* “I am not able, and I do not want, completely to abandon the worldview that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.” — Orwell


What are some of your favorite essays about writing?