On Essay Writing

I have undertaken to write as many essays – near or upwards of 1000 words for this site – as I can muster in the next few months. This is partly because I am tired with the unchallenging, dull nature of writing such short pieces as I have been lately and also because it seems like good practice should I become a famous writer as planned. It seems like the bread and butter of ‘successful’ writers is that ever-glorious essay. The kind which allows them to be rich in life despite their mistake of being born a writer. That’s why I want to practice this style (but mainly it’s the challenge because I’m masochistic like that).

The most difficult part of this process, which has only just begun, is to balance the personal wants I’ve outlined with the interest of my readership – if I can even call it that. I write a lot about the necessity of balance in life and here we are again. I don’t want to be self-congratulatory or experimental because I do not write on here for that purpose. I write on here to express ideas in a way people might enjoy, or at least be provoked by, I guess. My intention is not to drive away people through a need to get better at essay writing, but I fear that I might. I don’t know that anyone actually visits my blog regularly though, so I don’t really know if my fears are founded on anything legitimate anyways.

There is a weird aspect to writing so constantly. I love the practice it gives me, and will never cease to dedicate the amount of hours I do to this part of my life – primarily because I can’t do anything else but also because I don’t want to. Beyond this is my concern about writing about things which don’t need to be written about. I have never, except for the odd article I’ve written for other publications, felt the pressure or need to write anything that was not in my whim (not sure how else to put it). It’s I guess this idea that I am writing for something bigger than myself now and I have never really felt this way before. It reminds me of this New Yorker article I read the other day that discusses a CEO who is fired from a company for some messy incidents related to his divorce. He was reprehensible and deserved to get fired but something he said stuck with me. It was the idea that when you are doing something greater than yourself, you cannot expect to be constantly comfortable or reaffirmed that you are doing the right thing. You must live with a conviction that what you are doing is right and live your life that way. If you do not, that thing which is greater than you will eventually spit you out and you cannot complain because it was not engaging in you, you were engaging in it. That is what the essay is like for me.

Another concern of this style relates to how the media portrays certain aspects of life and how this lends these things a certain importance that they otherwise might not have had. Are the reports on the squabbles of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, for example, really worth dedicating such endless amounts of time and energy to. Do we gain anything when people prove that Sheer’s claims about Trudeau’s cottage expenditures are, if not false, at least meaningless. Or is it because the media first reported these claims as factual that they must now prove them to be not so?

I think of my own life, and the things I chose to share with people. Why do I selectively write about arts, my dad’s death, the odd relationship but certainly not all of them, and does this mean that I am doing myself a disservice? I find writing to be a very therapeutic side to my life, it’s how I think things out. Much in the same way that one talks to a spouse, I talk to my keyboard. It helps filter out my anxieties of life, because I’ve been able to subsume these things and realize their insignificance, at least when I’m pounding away on the keys as I now am.

Perhaps the essay, once I stop being so shit at writing them in non-academic settings, will become another of the litany of therapeutic tools in my belt which keep me to just keep on swimming as Dory says. I find myself becoming more and more concerned with what I put into these posts, and so maybe that is another beneficial aspect to essay writing. They are formalized like no other form of writing, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I have, probably, read more essays than any other form and so that’s another potential boon to this endeavour of mine – qui sais?

All in all, essay writing for the sake of essay writing is daunting. It’s like picking up a football one day for the purpose of making the NFL. I have the innate ability to do well, I know, but I am always left to wonder if I’ve got the inspiration. Can I write a weekly column, a weekly essay and be happy with them – because that’s the end result of this really. Will I ever be a good writer in this sense?

I am really looking to leave the training wheels behind and see whether or not success is possible. That’s really what I’m looking for.

-Clay

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One thought on “On Essay Writing

  1. Writing to improve your writing is a great goal to have, and I hope these essays will be something you can learn and grow from. Like any skill, practice brings improvement, and even if not every step on the way is a masterpiece, I hope you continue to be encouraged. Good luck!

    Like

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