Level Social aspects of academic writing

Academic writing does not take place in a social vacuum, and the motives for writing are mixed and various. Today's academics are expected to produce papers, and their livelihood depends upon it. This affects what is researched, who does it, who writes it up, where it is published, and so on. Figure 1.1.1 presents the reasons for writing listed by Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Murray and Moore (2006) describe academic writing as consisting of advances and retreats. There are things that drive us on — such as creating new knowledge, and gaining approval — and there are things that hold us back — such as difficulties in getting started, revising the text, finding our voice and generally feeling inadequate. Then there are inordinate delays in the publishing process, together with referees' comments that can be quite dispiriting. Writing for publication can be thoroughly enjoyable at times, and nasty and competitive at others.

Murray and Moore discuss how things that facilitate and things that inhibit writing are moderated both by environmental factors (such as time available to write) and internal factors (such as writing fluency). Furthermore, successful writing is affected by intrinsic rewards (such as personal satisfaction) and extrinsic ones (such as promotion and tenure). Figure 1.1.2 shows how these factors interact.

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 other 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 ways 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.

Figure 1.1.1 Reasons for writing.

Excerpt from the Nobel Lecture, 'My father's suitcase' by Orhan Pamuk, translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely. Reproduced with permission of the Nobel Foundation. © The Nobel Foundation, 2006.

Figure 1.1.2 A social model of academic writing.

From Murray and Moore (2006), p. 179. Reproduced with permission of the authors and the Open University Press Publishing Company.

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