Sunday, March 22, 2015


"If the personal essay frequently presents a middle-aged point of view, it may be because it is the fruit of ripened experience, which naturally brings with it some worldly disenchantment, or at least realism." -The Art of the Personal Essay

We live in a world that is so laser-focused on preserving youth, it was incredibly refreshing to read that the personal essay benefits from a more, shall we say, seasoned outlook on life than that of the highly touted millenials.

I don't exactly have a "seasoned" picture of myself. I'm a goofball.

I'm nearing 41, and it has taken me a long time to get comfortable in my own skin. I skipped a grade as a child and felt like an outcast for most of my schooling. Even now, my excitement for Edgar Allan Poe, my penchant for dressing up in character, and my big personality often draw unwelcome attention. I no longer care the way I did in my teens and twenties. I don't remember if I cared much in my thirties, as they were such a blur - teaching, earning my master's degree, raising a toddler to her "tween"age years. I don't bother much with fashion trends and am happiest shopping at the Salvation Army for some hidden find. I'd rather be judged by my character than my dress size, and I try hard to be a good mother to my teenaged daughter. I'm never afraid to look the fool if it means that either my daughter or my students will learn something from it.

My life experiences have been intense. I am emotional, sensitive, and highly attuned to others; whether in moments of grief or joy, I have lived vicariously. I'm stubborn but open-minded; what I lack in patience I give in love. I care deeply about my family, my friends, my students, and my work. I bite off far more than I can chew and am never satisfied until a project meets my own exacting standards. I love researching in academic databases - it makes me feel a bit like Nancy Drew on the trail of a clue. I'm enthusiastic, joyful, fearful, and creative.  I am passionate about social justice issues and tend to side with the underdog. I believe strongly that we are all interconnected, all children of the Universe, and I am certain that it is my job to show my students, through literature, that we are so much more than we are told we are, and that we can become even more.

I say all of this because I think I possess tremendous power with my writing for so many reasons. As a woman, as a mother, as a teacher, as a researcher - the intensity I bring to my everyday life is the same kind of intensity I try to bring to my writing. I have been through so much in my own life, and, by a conservative estimate, have taught more than 3200 students in the last sixteen years. I have seen a wide swath of the cross-section of humanity, and I believe I have the ethos to write about the human condition with some degree of authority.

Most of all, I refuse to write about something unless I give a damn about it. And I give a damn about an awful lot.

1 comment:

  1. Some people argue they can write about things they are interested in or things they don't care about, but I think on some levels, these types of detachment always present themselves and you can pick up on them if you are a careful reader.