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“Why I Write”

Posted on February 10, 2019

“I write to remember. I write to forget.” In her essay, “Why I Write”, Terry Tempest Williams lists many reasons for why she writes. Out of all the reasons listed, these two reasons are the ones that stood out to me the most. It seems paradoxical at first, but upon further examination, I can see why the author chose to construct her essay in this way.

Like many, I write to remember not only fond memories but also deadlines. I write to remind myself of what is important. But, I also write to forget because I want to move on from bad memories. I find it helpful to write down my feelings when I am feeling angry. It is a way for me to let go of my emotions by realizing that it is not worth my time or energy to dwell in whatever mediocre thing that made me upset.

Williams’ essay is unique compared to the other “Why I Write” essays because of its lack of explanation. Compared to the George Orwell essay, where he gives four distinct reasons with explanations for why he writes, Williams provides an endless list without explanation for why she writes. There isn’t just one concrete reason for what inspires her to write. Williams, herself, makes note of how ridiculous her list is. She also notes how, for her, writing is a gamble. To put your thoughts and ideas out there is showing your vulnerability. It is a risk, but a risk worth taking.

What also makes this essay stand out for me is the structure. At first the structure may be redundant and repetitive but its repetitiveness is what I find intriguing. Although some may find it boring, I found it enticing because it made me wonder what other countless reasons she had for writing. In addition, the rhythm of the essay almost mimics a stream of consciousness type of writing. The author’s reasoning for choosing to write in this fashion could be in reference to the dream she mentions at the beginning of the essay. Like a fast paced dream, where event after event occurs, the incessant list creates a dream-like mood, where the reasons are constantly thrown at you without much explanation.


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Louise (Lucy) Cai

Profile picture of Louise (Lucy) Cai


active 1 week, 5 days ago