the art of the essay

I am fairly awful at blogging. This is the result of a few things, the first of which being that I really don’t have anything to say. This is a problem since the purpose of a blog is to provide a platform from which to say things. I struggled with this on my last blog, too; I could never really find a point or unifying theme of everything I wrote. It wasn’t a literary blog, or a music blog, or a religious blog, or a fashion blog. I wasn’t writing about my life from a specific angle—think ‘mom’ blogs, or travel blogs, or that sort of thing. I was writing purely for the sake of it; post after post on essentially whatever I could dream up to write about. I have a feeling that this blog will be similar.

Why do I have a blog, then? If I am so terrible at it and if there really is no point to what I’m writing, why write?

I suppose the first reason is the same as why I started my last blog. Every day I’m growing as a person; I’m changing, understanding more, grappling with new things… And in the midst of all of this, I am trying desperately to figure out who I am. I’m only eighteen—am I supposed to know that yet? I feel like I should, and I feel like I have a better idea than I did last year, but I still don’t know completely. By forcing myself to write—not just in a journal sort of way (yesterday I did this, tomorrow I’m planning to do that)—and write about things, I’m forcing myself to think about what’s important to me, how I feel about certain topics, what I’m trying to do with my life, my education, myself… and everything besides.

Along those lines, I also want to develop my voice. I’m bombarded by voices, words, and ideas in the things I’m studying and I’m hoping at some point to have ideas and things to express, and when I have those I want to be able to say them well. I’m studying literature and I’m making it my business to express what I think about the books that I read; I’m going to spend an awful lot of my life writing essays. Right now, it’s my job to write. And I want it to keep being my job—so I want to find my voice; find the way I express myself in writing. I want to find something to say and to have a way natural to me to say it.

About essays—I’ve written quite a few this semester. Twenty-one, if I’m counting correctly, though a few were only ‘academic paragraphs’. (They took enough work to feel like essays, and they were probably too long to be properly considered as paragraphs, but my professor accepted them anyway). I haven’t been happy any of them; perhaps I’m mildly okay with one of them—there’s one I could see myself being happy with. I think the reason I’m not happy with them is that besides writing so many, I’ve read a lot of essays, and with little exception they’ve all been engaging and interesting, well-written, and effortless. They make me jealous. I want to write essays that people want to read—but it’s not so easy. I write essays well enough, but boringly well enough. My professors think they’re okay, but I want regular people to think they’re okay.

Maybe this blog will train me in the art of writing an essay. Maybe I’ll find my voice and what I think, and maybe if I write enough I’ll figure out how to present those things in an engaging, fluid, almost effortless way… Maybe this blog will help me as an academic, or maybe it will help me become a better literature student, and maybe, just maybe, it will somehow morph into something worth reading.

The picture in this post is essentially unrelated, but I head home for Christmas break on Tuesday and I’m completely in love with Christmas lights and the aura of Christmas is surrounding me and it makes me very, very happy.

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