"I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." ~ Joan Didion
Every day, I skim the headlines on Google News. And today, for some reason, there were over 1,500 articles about the passing of this man:
Why, in the scheme of things, did Alexander Solzhenitsyn matter? His reverent obituaries tell of a man who loved literature to the point he ended up creating it. Thrown into the Russian Gulag, he uncovered a secret, dank world and instead of shutting up to stay out from there, he felt it his moral duty to write about it.
A reader once wrote him thus: "No matter how things are going, we have always felt better when we
have a Turgenev, a Tolstoy, a Chekhov. It is not enough for us for a
writer to be a good writer, even a great writer. He has to be someone
we can love."
I feel both inspired by his example, and incredibly depressed. How do you love the written word and its creation but not more than you love mankind, or truth? In Malaysia, most would call him a fool. Why write a critically lauded work if all it gets you is exile and not lucre? Why not write something safer, something with bankable movie rights? Something that won’t get the ISA on you?
And I think I understand now why writing, at the moment, for me feels like walking across the desert in shoes made of brick. Because I had nothing worth writing about.
I think I do now.