If you had asked me a month ago whether I was interested in writing essays, or even reading them, my answer would have been a fairly emphatic no. This is because until then my only experience of essays were the sort one has to write as assignments on academic courses. That being said, I do remember enjoying writing one particular essay. It was while I was studying for my biochemistry degree, and I think the topic was something along the lines of: “Those who communicate discoveries to the people are as important as those who may discover them. Discuss in scientific terms.” In hindsight I think the reason I enjoyed that particular essay was because it was entirely my own creation – there was no requirement to impart knowledge to the reader.
In our last workshop, my creative writing tutor (Brindley Hallam Dennis aka Mike Smith) showed the group a volume containing the 2013 winners of the William Hazlitt Essay Prize. As I flicked through the attractively bound volume, one essay caught my attention. I only had time to read the first few lines of “The art of waiting” by Belle Boggs (Boggs 2013). But I later read and enjoyed the whole essay, plus an article or two on the art of essay writing (especially Walker 2013), and was persuaded to have a go at essay writing myself.
So at tomorrow’s workshop, where I would usually take along a piece of short fiction to read aloud, to be discussed by Mike and the group, this time I will be taking my first attempt at a literary (as opposed to academic) essay.
Brindley Hallam Dennis blogs here: https://bhdandme.wordpress.com/
Boggs, Belle (2013). The art of waiting. In: William Hazlitt Essay Prize 2013 – The Winners. Notting Hill Editions, 2013. Retrieved 31/05/2015 from: http://www.nottinghilleditions.com/uploads/essaywinners/NHEessayBOGGS.pdf
Walker, Cameron (2013). The Art of the Essay. Retrieved 31/05/2015 from: http://www.theopennotebook.com/2013/06/25/the-art-of-the-essay/