Browse By

ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Essay Questions

Sometimes as a writing student with a writing job, it can be hard to remember why I signed myself up for so much literary challenge all at once. Every day consists of a new page, a different word count, and another prompt. This week, an assignment put my struggles into perspective.

In 1946, George Orwell wrote an essay titled “Why I Write.” Authors Joan Didion and Barry Hannah also followed suit, forging their own pieces under the same name. They explored the motivations behind their own writing, plus the philosophy behind taking pen to paper. My task was to release my own version onto the academic world.

I have a craving for human connection.

Last week I was approached by a stranger. She let me know that she’s been reading my column each week, and they made her days a little better. She smiled, thanked me, and walked away, leaving me with an unexpected feeling of fulfillment.

The driving force of Orwell’s “Why I Write” was in his subcategories explaining why any writer really writes, to some degree: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. Didion referenced her own history and education. Hannah quipped, “It is often said that a writer is more alive than his peers. But I believe he might also be sleepier than his peers, a sort of narcoleptic who requires constant waking up by his own imaginative work.”

As much as I draw my passion for writing through similar venues as these artists—specifically aesthetic enthusiasm, personal history, and an elegant analogy for my own trait of hyper- awareness—I stand alone in one category: audience.

I have a craving for human connection through literary communication. I got into this field of study and industry because of my consuming desire to reach readers and ultimately make a difference to their lives. As a journalist, I want them informed. As a columnist, I hope them entertained.

Thank you to the kind, nameless girl in North Classroom, for affirming why I write, and making the answer to a complex question much simpler.

—Savannah Nelson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *