Write on Wednesday

So tell me, what are the areas closest to your heart? What aspects of your life in general do you find yourself sharing in writing? Do you enjoy reading/writing personal essays? Who are some of your favorite essayists?

I could spout about various things close to my heart like education and beauty and adventure, but when I look back through my notebooks I find much uglier themes recurring: obsession over food, frustration with hypocrites, and fear of my future. My freewriting is often whiny or angry.

That said, when I come to the page with a specific subject in mind, I wax introspective about names and titles, come up with crackpot (and often intentionally humorous) theories, or preach about the importance of consistency. Some of these see the light of day; others rightfully stay hidden from the world.

A well-written personal essay can be grand. My personal favorites – David Sedaris and Laurie Notaro – are both very funny. I suspect that’s because it’s just so easy to find tragedy in the everyday that unearthing comedy from the same materials is a rare gift. Granted, not everything Sedaris and Notaro write is funny, but those occasional serious pauses are all the more meaningful for their rarity.

Alas, though I like to write personal essays, I often don’t know how to end them.

  1. Sometimes writing personal stories about the darker side of our experience is a good way to work things out and get ourselves to a positive place. Caroline Knapp, one of my favorite writers, struggled with alcohol, anorexia, and depression. She wrote about all of them, but was never a “downer” about it.

  2. That’s great that you write essays – and if you don’t have an ending, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes endings to essays just happen; often they don’t. The magic is in the former. But doesn’t it feel good to write them regardless of how they finish?

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