Saturday, August 9, 2008

Why do you write?

Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize Lecture, 2006... 

In his Nobel Lecture, Pamuk provides a fairly comprehensive reply to the question, "Why do you write?" 

"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."

The New Yorker, Dec. 25, 2006. Translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely.


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Most of the time I say I write to stay sane, and while that's true, I also believe that I write because I can't find the stories that are in my head in any other book. I love messing with words and how just a certain change in position will affect the impact of them. It's control where I feel I have little in the rest of my life.

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