Sunday, January 25, 2015

this is not for you.

The essays I read were: Hooked, about being in an abusive relationship; From City to City, moving across country and being the ‘new kid’; It’s a Good Day to be Good, about creating long-lasting friendships in the gospel; Not the Biological Mother, about the love the author has for a child she works with; and Elephant in the Front Yard, a missionary coping with a difficult hardship.

From what I read, the deepest, most creative, and moving essays that I read was Hooked, the one about an abusive relationship. Not only was I able to personally relate to her content, the way she wrote, the way she sewed her ideas together was beautiful and intentional. It was refreshingly raw and open, as though she was unafraid to expose this life experience with the world. I found it very brave and inspiring. Another essay I particularly enjoyed was the Elephant in the Front Yard, not so much for the content, but the way the author presented the content. It was simple, also seemed very intentional, and well thought out. It was obvious he was not writing about the event that caused the get-together, but the coping mechanisms he was observing from others and ones he was trying to find within himself. I appreciated the author’s honesty in Not the Biological Mother, as she maneuvers through the relationship she has with this sweet kindergarten boy, Herber. The way the author of From City to City repeats certain parts of his story for creative emphasis and the way he describes his feelings of moving across country are very deliberate and his style of writing in this essay is memorable. In It’s Good to be Good, I appreciated her expressions of gratitude and how that really became the focus of her essay.

To me, the form of a short, personal essay is perfect for describing the more intense content we have accumulated in our lives. There is a chance to step right into the moments we are writing about and explain them in fantastic ways through the words we use. The ones writing these essays are able to get right to the point of the story they are sharing without feeling as though they rushed their ideas. However, the main audience of these personal essays seemed to be the authors themselves. Yes, others can read these essays and get to know the author better, having shared an experience with said person through the writing medium, but being able to be the one to share those deeply personal experiences? Even as you are reading this right now, you know this is not for you. It’s almost as though it is a way for the author to get this idea, this struggle, this hardship off their chest by writing about it and sharing it with others. They’re saying, hey, I went through this and here is what I learned; not necessarily for your benefit, but for mine. These experiences are not for the readers, but for the writers.

The different events I have thought of writing about for my own personal essay (inspired from the essays I read) have been: an old relationship I had in high school, the time I got mononucleosis, my time working with developmentally disabled adults, my experience on study abroad, my experience in an abusive relationship and how I got out of it, my past of drug use, and the relationships I have with my family members. I’m more inclined to write about something harder, a little edgier, but I do not want to alienate readers at the same time, especially if they might not understand where I might have been in the experience I write about.


  1. I am so excited to read whatever you choose to write about. I think you are totally right in saying that essays can describe intense content. I would also say, don't worry about alienating your readers. Write for yourself! People can take your writing however they will, but I think you should be your number one reader.

  2. I also really liked "Hooked" for those same reasons. I agree that intensity of emotion, experience, or surprise makes for a good personal essay. As long as the experience inspired a lot of thought and self reflection I think it has potential.

  3. I had never thought about not writing for the reader, but writing for yourself. I mean, I always do write for me, because I love it, but I also always keep in mind that there is an audience, that there is an outside reader, but you're right, sometimes that outside reader includes just yourself. So in my blog post I wrote about connecting with the reader and that is still true, but now I can broaden it and say connecting with yourself as well.