I am doing some re-reading of Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture this weekend. I am reading it slowly so that it really pierces my heart, as I allow so few things to do. (There are many other things that do pierce my heart despite my protests and those are the things I think I write about).
He has so many good answers to the questions we writers face. His answers make me feel like I’m worth something as a writer in the world. His answers articulate my own motivations (I do write because I am angry and because I want to understand why I am very angry at everyone, and because I am afraid of being forgotten and because I like to read). Oh, read on for HIS worthy answer:
The question we writers are asked most often, the favorite question, is: Why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write. I write because I can’t do normal work as other people do. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake of real life only by changing it. I write because I want others, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but—as in a dream—can’t quite get to. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.
I would like to think his speech is relevant to everyone, not just writers. Pursue your dream and don’t let it lie in secret, stuffed inside of a suitcase, even if it’s easier to just set it aside.