1. Why Essays?

(Cross-posted from my blog)

I didn’t originally plan for my first essay to be an essay on writing essays. However, I think it’s important to share why I’m embarking on writing one essay per day, for every day in December.

I spent all of this November writing. I wrote over 50,000 words.  I’d been meaning to do it since 6th grade- the year I first heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on open diary. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in a month. I hadn’t ever managed to successfully do it, despite stating that I would for 12 years. Every one of those 12 years I intended to write something, be it a fiction novel, a biography of myself, or a nonfiction book on why people should take sabbaticals. This year, I didn’t give myself a directive – I just said I had to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. The 50,000 words ended up being a combination of memories, opinions, feelings, and day to day happenings.

At the end of the month, when I read back through them, I realized I needed to do more with writing. There was a lot of content in my 50,000 words- stories I hadn’t ever told anyone, ideas for fiction, and half written opinions. I wanted to get better at expressing myself. So on November 27th, I decided that for December, rather than trying to re-edit my 50,000 words into a book, I’d work on writing one solid essay every day. I figured essays would force me to consider and solidify my opinions, and force me to only hold opinions that I’m able to express well.

I looked into writing essays- I started “How to Live,” a biography of Montaigne. Montaigne was the inventer of the essay (from the French, essayer, to try). Montaigne wrote to understand himself better. I read Scott Berkun’s Mindfire. I brainstormed a list of topics I thought I would be good at. I refused to write essays beforehand, so I’d be even more anxious and excited to get started. I waited for December.

You may now note that it’s now December 3rd, and not December 1st. The first couple days of the month I realized that I start writing an essay, get halfway there, and stop, because it wouldn’t be good enough. I’d start with one idea, and then tie in twelve others, and then it would be too long and confusing to be readable.  I am terrible at putting my opinion into solid writing.

So in the next 28 days, I will share 30 more essays. They might not get better each day, but I hope essay #31 is substantially better than this one.


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