Thursday, December 21, 2006

I write because...


This year's literature Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk is a much admired writer. Honestly, I am yet to read most of his work. The only one I had tried so far in the early months of this year, without any idea of his forthcoming Nobel win, was My Name is Red. It is cited as one of Pamuk's best novels.


Over the years, whatever little reading I have done, I have realised that some works, even if they are much admired, don't work well in translation with readers like me. That's why while others enjoy works in translation, I often don't.


I tried reading My Name is Red (Benim Adım Kırmızı) but lost interest after page 50 or so. I give a book enough attention, time and effort until I am convinced it is not for me, at least for that particular time in my life. So I abandon it. I don't care what others think of me. I read for my own pleasure, and my instruction.


Will try again to read some of his other works in the coming months.


I liked one of the passages from his Nobel lecture:


As you know, the question we writers are asked most often, the favourite 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 like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am 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 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 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 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 – just as in a dream – I can't quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.

I guess these lines echo the sentiments of most writers. If anyone asks you why do you write refer him/her to these lines of Pamuk.

3 comments:

Jabberwock said...

I give a book enough attention, time and effort until I am convinced it is not for me, at least for that particular time in my life.

That's a good, pragmatic attitude. No sense in wasting time on something that doesn't hit the right chord in you, just because everyone else is recommending it or raving about it. I also like what you say about "that particular time in my life". Many readers don't acknowledge this point - they think one's approach to a book should be constant and fixed.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks Jai. You are right about the attitude of some other folks on this issue. Sometimes one learns it the hard way. But you know, honesty is the best policy, especially towards onself.

bibliobibuli said...

oh dear. i tried "snow" and gave up three-quarters of the way through ... and decided it was a translation problem too as there were things i liked about it.

like you, though, am not going to give up so easily!