Happy New Year 2019! Pamuk Frames It For Writers...
When Orhan Pamuk, the great Turkish writer, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006, he delivered a beautiful speech, entitled “My Father’s Suitcase,” which was translated and reprinted in The New Yorker .
There’s a paragraph in the speech I liked because it went to the heart of things, in the kind of exhaustive detail you don’t find too often in a culture of fluff.
At the beginning of each year, almost by habit, as a rite of passage, I find myself returning to parts of Pamuk’s speech, mostly for inspiration.
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Pamuk frames the issue this way:
“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.”