Best of Series,  Show Notes,  Summer of the Short Story

Episode 230: “Best of” Series – “Why I Write” by George Orwell, Ep. 16

For this week’s “Best of The Literary Life” series episode, we revisit a conversation about George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write.” Angelina and Cindy kick off the discussion about how much they each identify with Orwell’s description of his childhood. In his story of learning to write, we see many aspects of a good education, even his inclination to imitate other authors. An important point Angelina brings up is Orwell’s own struggle against the calling he felt to write, in contrast to having an ambition to do so. Angelina brings up a related story about musician Gregory Alan Isakov, and Cindy reiterates the idea of why we need leisure in order to find our vocation.

Cindy and Angelina also bring out some of the qualities Orwell possessed that make a good writer. Maturity as a human being and as a master of a craft are crucial to certain forms of writing, as Orwell points out about his own work. Other topics of conversation include truth-telling in writing, the motives for writing according to Orwell, and the growing process of writers.

If you want to find replays of the 2019 Back to School online conference referenced in this episode, you can purchase them in Cindy’s shop at For replays of the How to Love Poetry webinar with Thomas, you can find those at

Check out the schedule for the podcast’s summer episodes on our Upcoming Events page.

Listen to The Literary Life:

Commonplace Quotes:

Never had she seen it so clearly as on this evening — what destiny had demanded of her and what it had given her in return with her seven sons. Over and over again joy had quickened the beat of her heart; fear on their behalf had rent it in two. They were her children, these big sons with their lean, bony, boy’s bodies, just as they had been when they were small and so plump that they barely hurt themselves when they tumbled down on their way between the bench and her knee. They were hers, just as they had been back when she lifted them out of the cradle to her milk-filled breast and had to support their heads, which wobbled on their frail necks the way a bluebell nods on its stalk. Wherever they ended in the world, wherever they journeyed, forgetting their mother– she thought that for her, their lives would be like a current in her own life; they would be one with her, just as they had been when she alone on this earth knew about the new life hidden inside, drinking from her blood and making her cheeks pale.

Sigrid Undset, from Kristen Lavransdatter

Orwell was a poet who happened to find his medium in prose, a poet not so much in his means of expression as in the nature of his vision, which could strip the sprawling tangle of the world around him down to its core with the simplicity of a timeless flash of intuition.

C. M. Wodehouse, from the introduction to Animal Farm

Veni, Creator Spiritus

by John Dryden

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid,
Come, visit ev’ry pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on human kind;
From sin, and sorrow set us free;
And make thy temples worthy Thee.

O, Source of uncreated Light, 
The Father’s promis’d Paraclete! 
Thrice Holy Fount, thrice Holy Fire, 
Our hearts with heav’nly love inspire; 
Come, and thy Sacred Unction bring 
To sanctify us, while we sing! 

Plenteous of grace, descend from high, 
Rich in thy sev’n-fold energy! 
Thou strength of his Almighty Hand, 
Whose pow’r does heav’n and earth command: 
Proceeding Spirit, our Defence, 
Who do’st the gift of tongues dispence, 
And crown’st thy gift with eloquence! 

Refine and purge our earthly parts; 
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts! 
Our frailties help, our vice control; 
Submit the senses to the soul; 
And when rebellious they are grown, 
Then, lay thy hand, and hold ’em down. 

Chase from our minds th’ Infernal Foe; 
And peace, the fruit of love, bestow; 
And, lest our feet should step astray, 
Protect, and guide us in the way. 

Make us Eternal Truths receive, 
And practise, all that we believe: 
Give us thy self, that we may see 
The Father and the Son, by thee. 

Immortal honour, endless fame, 
Attend th’ Almighty Father’s name: 
The Saviour Son be glorified, 
Who for lost Man’s redemption died: 
And equal adoration be, 
Eternal Paraclete, to thee.

Book List:

Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Animal Farm by George Orwell

P. G. Wodehouse

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski

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You can find Angelina and Thomas at, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at

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