Crafting the Personal Essay

Crafting the Personal Essay
Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction
by Dinty W. Moore
ISBN 978-1-58297-796-6
$17.99, paperback, 272 pages

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Read a Q&A with the author
Author Dinty W. Moore talks about not taking shortcuts and the importance of perseverance and a love for writing in this exclusive interview.

Read an excerpt
Author Dinty W. Moore discusses the differences between writing an essay and private writing in this excerpt from Crafting the Personal Essay.

About the Book

Award winning essayist Scott Russell Sanders once compared the art of essay writing to “the pursuit of mental rabbits”—a rambling through thickets of thought in search of some brief glimmer of fuzzy truth. While some people persist in the belief that essays are stuffy and antiquated, the truth is that the personal essay is an ever-changing creative medium that provides an ideal vehicle for satisfying the human urge to document truths as we experience them and share them with others—to capture a bit of life on paper.

Crafting the Personal Essay is designed to help you explore the flexibility and power of the personal essay in your own writing. This hands-on, creativity-expanding guide will help you infuse your nonfiction with honesty, personality, and energy. You’ll discover:

•    An exploration of the basics of essay writing
•    Ways to step back and scrutinize your experiences in order to separate out what may be fresh, powerful, surprising or fascinating to a reader 
•    How to move past private “journaling” and write for an audience
•    How to write eight different types of essays including memoir, travel, humor, and nature essays among others
•    Instruction for revision and strategies for getting published

Brimming with helpful examples, exercises, and sample essays, this indispensable guide will help your personal essays transcend the merely private to become powerfully universal.

About the Author

Dinty W. Moore’s essays and stories have appeared in numerous publications including The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, and Utne Reader. His books include Between Panic & Desire, The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, and The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Table of Contents
Introduction: The Personal Essay, Here and Now        1

Part One: Writing the Essay

    1    The Gentle Art of the Personal Essay        4
    2    The Personal (Not Private) Essay        7
    3    Writing the Memoir Essay        26
    4    The Woolf and the Moth        38
    5    Writing the Contemplative Essay        51
    6    A Closer Look: “Leisure,” by Agnes Repplier        59
    7    Pursuing Mental Rabbits        75
    8    Writing the Lyric Essay        92
    9    Of Conflict        99
    10    A Closer Look: “Ah Wilderness!” by Dinty W. Moore        113
    11    Writing the Spiritual Essay        132
    12    Who Am I Today?        139
    13    Writing the Gastronomical Essay        152
    14    Writing the Humorous Essay        159
    15    A Closer Look: “Pulling Teeth,” by Dinty W. Moore        166
    16    Write What You Wish You Knew        172
    17    Writing the Nature Essay        186
    18    Writing the Travel Essay        193
Part Two: Reaching Readers
    19    On a Regular Writing Routine        200
    20    Blogging and the Essay        208
    21    Red Light, Green Light: Tips for Conquering Writer’s Block        214
    22    On Becoming an Excellent Rewriter        219
    23    On Publication, Rejection, and Being Stubborn        226
    Appendix A: “Of Idle People Who Rove About” by Dinty W. Moore        234
    Appendix B: Recommended Readings for Writers        245
    Appendix C: Web Sites for Essay Writers        251
    Permissions        256
    Index        258


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