Why Do Essays Feel Soooo Good?

Okay, I know the facts. It’s less than 1,000 words. It’s appearing in a regional magazine with a relatively small target audience. It’s not highlighted on the cover. And I didn’t even get paid that much to write it.

Still, I am so, so happy to see my personal essay in print!

It’s funny, isn’t it? I write a lot of research articles for a variety of publications, and I do love those assignments. It’s fun interviewing experts and learning new things–and like every other writer I know, I get a kick out of putting words together to make a great lead, a satisfying conclusion, or a clever headline. I like watching an article come to life, and I feel pride when I email a finished product to an editor–especially if it’s been one of those article that resisted getting written.

But nothing gives me the kind of charge that I get when an editor publishes an essay of mine. And the fact that it doesn’t happen that often makes it even more special. That email from an editor to tell me “Yes, yes!” is like the ultimate pat on the back. It’s the universe telling me, “You did it!” No–it’s the world saying, “We love you!”

Take this latest essay. It started with my plan to spend some alone time with my daughter by taking a weekend trip and exploring the home-turned-museum of one of our favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott.

Driving to Concord, I got that spark that writers all know so well–the sudden thought, “Hey, this would make a great article!” What followed, of course, were days and weeks of self-doubt and stagnation. “Nobody’s going to want to read this,” I told myself. “It’s all been written before; it’s all been written before–and better!”

And then, throwing caution to the wind, I plunged into deep and unknown waters–playing with words and memories, daring to feel that the work taking shape would actually have merit, whipping up a query that presented my heart and soul in a mere five-sentence paragraph, and then hoping for response from an editor who really “got” me.

Maybe what it comes down to is this: While most other types of articles are mostly about the work, a personal essay is also largely about the author. It’s the author’s opportunity to say, “This is what I think, and this is what I feel. This is what’s important, and this is why. This is who I am and who I want to be. This is a piece of my life.”

How about you? When did you publish a personal essay, and how did you feel? Are you working on a personal essay now? What are your hopes for it? And if you’re not working on one–why not?!

Another grateful day in the life of just another working writer.

 

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9 Responses to “Why Do Essays Feel Soooo Good?”

  1. susanwbailey Says:

    Where is your essay printed, I’d love to read it. I blog exclusively about Louisa May Alcott and have just started writing essays. I can SO relate to your worry about it having been done before!

    BTW, my blog is http://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com

    • justanotherworkingwriter Says:

      Hi, I love you blog! Didn’t realize how much wonderful stuff continues to be written about Louisa May Alcott and Orchard House. I can’t wait to go back to Concord. Here’s a link to my article:
      nymetroparents.com/2011va.cfm?colid=71265
      Looking forward to visiting your blog again!

      • susanwbailey Says:

        Your essay was wonderful! I was wondering if I could request permission to reprint it on my blog – I’d like it to run on this upcoming Friday in anticipation of Mother’s Day. What a wonderful way to spend it!

      • justanotherworkingwriter Says:

        What a nice invitation! I’d be delighted for you to reprint it. My editor would appreciate it if you could include a link to the magazine. Can’t wait to see it!

      • susanwbailey Says:

        I certainly will include the link and thanks a lot!

  2. Patricia Dunn Author (@Shewrites) Says:

    This is so true!!! Thanks for another great post.

  3. creativityorcrazy Says:

    Congratulations. Love personal essays. I don’t have any published yet, but have written several and working on some more. I hope to get some published one day.

    • justanotherworkingwriter Says:

      Well, when you’re ready to start sending some out, then just go for it, and don’t get discouraged by any initial rejections. I took a look at your blog, and you’re a great writer! Don’t forget to share the link when you get one published!

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