What Exactly is a Personal Essay?

Essentials of Writing Personal Essays Workshop

Perhaps you are a person who loves to laugh at the writing of humorists David Sedaris or Erma Bombeck. Or maybe you love the quiet, thoughtful nature explorations of Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard in her book Pilgrim’s Creek. Maybe you like the no-holds-barred editorials of horror master Stephen King featured on the back pages of Entertainment Weekly. Or maybe you are a person who begins each morning with a cup of coffee and your favorite hometown columnist. Each of these writers is, in his or her own way, a writer of the personal essay. Because you are here, in this class, it means that you wish to mine your life for personal essays too.

In his introduction to the definitive anthology on the subject, The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, essayist Phillip Lopate writes, the personal essay "should certainly be celebrated, because it is one of the most approachable and diverting types of literature we possess. The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy?. " He goes on to explain, "At the core of the personal essay is the supposition that there is a certain unity to human experience."

And therein lies some of the form’s beauty. For in using our own voices on the page, we give a voice to those who can’t or do not use theirs. In the sharing of our insights and fears and dreams—everything from a reflection on the merits of our refrigerator or old car, to a commentary about the day we saved a worm on the sidewalk, to a probing of our dread of death—we explore what it means to be alive, and connect with people all over the world. We find, in the personal essay, our common denominator.

The personal essay, therefore, plays an important role. It gives a fresh perspective on, shapes, and makes manageable our lives…

Capture your most interesting moments in ways that readers will love! Click here to view the outline for this course, and to reserve your space today! This exciting workshop will help you translate your experiences, pathos, humor and insights into essays that readers can’t resist! Through a fun mix of one-on-one instruction, constructive peer feedback and hands-on writing assignments, you’ll learn to generate fresh ideas and combine them with the essential elements of prose, meditation and reflection. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have written and revised 4-6 essays fit to print!

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