Why Writers Write

atkins-bookshelf-quotationsNow with the passing of years I know that the fate of books is not unlike that of human beings: some bring joy, others anguish. Yet one must resist the urge to throw away pen and paper. After all, authentic writers write even if there is little chance for them to be published; they write because they cannot do otherwise, like Kafka’s messenger who is privy to a terrible and imperious truth that no one is willing to receive but is nonetheless compelled to go on.

Were he to stop, to choose another road, his life would become banal and sterile. Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them. These characters want to get out, to breathe fresh air and partake of the wine of friendship; were they to remain locked in, they would forcibly break down the walls. It is they who force the writer to tell their stories.

Read related post: William Faulkner on the Writer’s Duty
The Responsibility of the Poet
The Power of Literature

From the essay, “A Sacred Magic Can Elevate the Secular Storyteller” (New York TImes, June 19, 2000) by Eliezer (Elie) Wiesel,  Holocaust survivor, activist, author (his most recognized work is Night, originally published in 1960), and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1986).

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2 responses to “Why Writers Write

  • Jon Spangler

    Some of us write to tell nonfiction stories, too–with the same unstoppable interior motivation that drives writers of fiction. For me, the news, current affairs, and local issues provide the same drive as any novelist, even though I do not write as well as they do.

    (Of course, Elie Wiesel’s “novels” told us all about the all-too-real Holocaust that occurred to him and millions of others, so “fiction” is perhaps a misnomer…)

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