why we write: michael danaher

28 Nov
The following is the second installment of “Why We Write,” a series of personal reflections on the craft of writing. Each installment is poignant in its own way, but in sum the series is a sincere and astounding collection of thoughts, emotions, and ambitions regarding the profession of writing. Take of each what you will.

:: :: ::

Michael Danaher

I’d like to say it’s for some ultimate truth, like digging down deep into the clay of the human condition and unearthing something revelatory, something meaningful and genuine. That’s why I started, I suppose. Carver, O’Connor, Cheever, Vonnegut, O’Brien, Hemingway, Orwell, Salinger, Capote—they moved me, taught me things about myself, about my fellow man, that had been there all along but that I couldn’t see until I had consumed their sentences, digested their words, and attributed some significance to the meal of their works. And I knew, after reading “Cathedral” for my first Fiction Writing class sophomore year of college, that I wanted to be a writer. 

But there’s something else, too. Part of me knows I write because, well, I’m somewhat selfish. I write because I like to believe that one day someone might actually give a shit about the words I spill on a page, about what I have to say. I like to think that college students through the country might someday read my stories or essays in anthologies, and they’ll argue about motif and theme, voice and characterization, points of view and metaphors. Deep down, I am somewhat of an egoist in that sense—all writers are to some extent, I think—and I’d be lying to myself if I said any different.

“My love for the craft can’t all be based on that fallacy of egoism, of that empty hope for success. Maybe in writing that and admitting that to myself, I really have arrived at something true.”

But there’s more to it than that. Writing is a sacred entity, suspended above us like some supreme being. The baseness of wanting to “make it” could never bring it down. So, my love for the craft can’t all be based on that fallacy of egoism, of that empty hope for success. Maybe in writing that and admitting that to myself, I really have arrived at something true—something ultimate and genuine and honest after all. And perhaps that is why I write, to get to the crux of what makes us tick and to hit it on the nose. Because writing does matter—more than on a personal level—and that is why part of me still pursues the endless avenues of sentence structure, tone, word choice, plot lines, and literary techniques. I write because I want to. I write because there’s reward in completing something, in creating something that’s all yours—something that emanates from the basement of your soul, the depths of your very being. And just because someone doesn’t always “get it” doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. That much I do understand about myself. That much I know is true.

:: :: ::

“Why We Write” originated as part of Hostel Tuesdays, a writer’s collective that meets in the south study room on the seventh floor of Chicago’s downtown library. It meets on Wednesdays.

Previous authors: Sean Conner.

2 Responses to “why we write: michael danaher”

  1. Gwen Sears Bullock November 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Tried to explain why I blog:

    http://play-grand.com/2011/07/15/blogging-a-grand-definition/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. why we write: timothy schuler « Read::Zebra - December 7, 2011

    […] authors: Sean Conner, Michael Danaher. Share this:ShareTwitterEmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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