Saturday, January 24, 2015

Relatable Uniqueness

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Photo mine

Personal writing has always been a favorite genre of mine to read and write. I imagine many agree with me; the very nature of the persona essay seems to make it generally likable. If I had to describe that nature in two words, I would say: relatable uniqueness.

I felt this phrase as watched a couple dozen students’ introductory videos and read five of the matching personal essays.  Many of the stories were near-retellings of experiences I’ve had myself: family councils, auditioning for music groups several times before making it in, funerals of elderly relatives I never knew well. But each essayist brought something foreign to me, whether it was quirky diction, the expression of feelings I’d never had in my parallel experiences, or a scripture connection I’d never thought of.

Admittedly, several essays described events I’ve never seen in my own life, such as the death of a father, and being in an emotionally abusive relationship, and suicide. But I was still able to relate to these essayists because of the emotions they described in their work. So these, too, demonstrated relatable uniqueness.

I would’ve deemed the essays’ video introductions superfluous except for the fact that seeing and hearing the essayists strengthened my connection to them and their writing. The writers who gave me a taste of their stories had the most effective videos for that reason. Similarly, while each essay I read impressed and touched me to some extent, I found certain literary approaches more effective than others. The essays that hit me hardest and quenched my thirst were those with a clear theme carried clearly but not redundantly throughout the piece. I’ll have to remember and apply this when I write my own personal essay(s) in the future.


  1. I've never thought of essays as "relatable uniqueness," but I think it's an accurate description. Isn't it cool how good writing allows us to connect with a story even if we've never personally experienced it ourselves? I think part of that is relatable uniqueness at work.

  2. I love that description- "relatable uniqueness." If it's unique, we'll be drawn to reading it, but if it's not relatable, we won't connect to it and possibly won't read the whole thing. As writers, we've got to find that good balance.

  3. I really like that you pointed out a specific element to contribute to effectiveness of writing a personal essay. I will definitely keep that in mind when I write my essay!

  4. I liked your description about the relatable aspects of these unique stories. As you said, i was a little skeptical about the videos but it did help the connection between myself and the author since I was able to hear their description of their essays.

  5. I love this idea. I've always wanted to be a writer, and one of my goals is to share my real feelings in a fictional setting. I think my own writing will be powerful when I add truthful emotion.