That’s why I write.

I write because I have an innate need to write.
I write because I can’t do normal work like other people.
I write because I want to read books like the ones I write.
I write because I’m angry at all of you, angry at everyone.
I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing.
I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it.
I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world to know what sort of life we live 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’s a habit, a passion.
I write because I’m 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 all of you, 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 of life’s beauties and riches into words.
I write because I have never managed to be happy.
I write to be happy.

Turkish Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk reads his list of reasons for a life of writing on a wonderful podcast from Wisconsin Public Radio called “To the best of our knowledge.” Pamuk’s list is very much that of a novelist, a writer of fiction. Perhaps I’ve never been able to write much fiction because I’m not “very very angry at everyone.” Although I have managed to be happy at times and am happy now, I do write to be happy. If there is a negative emotion involved in why I write, it’s feeling ignorant, stupid. I write to figure things out and then to remember what I’ve figured out. Not being able to recall what I wrote or read has always been a problem for me, not just now after the age of 70. I also strongly feel Pamuk’s “childish belief in the immortality of libraries.” I would like to think that we will always have books sitting on shelves. Even if they were all digitized, however, my childish belief remains in what Samuel Scheffler calls the “afterlife conjecture.” He’s not talking about some sort of individual life after one dies, but about how important it is to us that there will be people around after we die. We all carry on because we trust that other people will come after us. Some may even read what we write and get new ideas beyond what we ever imagined. That’s why I write, even if everything I write gets lost or ignored.

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