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Discussion--Week 8

Because I posted this late, I will give you until class time on Wednesday, 10/29, to get credit.

What have you learned, if anything, from our readings thus far that you plan or hope to apply in your own writing? Which of the essays we've read did you find particularly effective or enjoyable?


The essays we have read taught me that you can write an essay about almost anything. I used to associate personal essays with life-changing events and monumental insights, but a lot of the essays we have read dealt with a very simply subject. The authors all reached different conclusions, and some were very simple. We have read essays written in many different styles. This freedom of subject, insight, and style make writing my own personal essay a bit less scary. I hope that in my essays I can leave the reader feeling like the essay had a point; usually I’m not very eloquent but I don’t want to leave the reader saying, “so what??
I have enjoyed most of the essays that we read; they’re so interesting because they’re true! It’s neat to see how the some of the authors could take an event from their daily life and draw parallels to political or social beliefs.

Thus far I have learned that the personal essay isn't always about the authors personal experience. They don't have to come up with an ah ha moment in their essays. I think I understand now why some people write personal essay, to help them figure things out.

My favorite essay that we have read so far has to be He and I. I don't really know why that's just the piece that i found the most interesting to me personally. I have liked most of the other ones as well. I just sometimes have a harder time understanding what some of them are really trying to say.

From all of the readings thus far, I have learned about offering small insights to the reader at a gradual pace. It's better to show a glimpse than to throw open the door completely. Sometimes, what you don't say is just as important as what you do, and I want to incorporate more of that "mystery" into my own writing. I want the reader to be able to interpret the message on their own, even if it's not an exact translation of how it occurred in my own mind.

Of all the essays we've read so far, I found the "What's Inside You, Brother?" to be particularly effective. The shifts in perspective shed light on the many sides of Toure, who is as complex and multi-faceted as the essay itself. It was difficult to comprehend at times, almost frustrating, but the essay made me think and never once left me empty-minded, so to speak.

I've also learned that an essay does not have to include some kind of big revelation from the author. A personal essay can be about something that the author cares about or likes to write about. Either one of those two can produce a really good essay since both is personal to the author.

I liked Orwell's Such Such Were the Joys because it is funny and serious at the same time. The tension builds in the story and he doesn't really leave the readers guessing at how he feels. I enjoy pieces like these that are similar to memoirs because stories are generally fun to read, especially when the author is able to reflect about it.

I really want to work on telling the reader everything that I need to without interpreting it for them. I want to let the reader come to their own conclusion about certain things rather than telling them exactly what I think I about it.

My favorite reading thus far is Orwell's Shooting an Elephant. I thought that he did an exceptional job of portraying both his feelings about the situation and what he actually did. I also found myself fascinated by his position in life at that period in time.

This might be too basic of a writing lesson to learn from the literary legends I’ve been reading in this class, but after going through all these artful essays and seeing the precedents they’ve set, I'm not afraid to tinker around with any of my essays’ prose, to write enormous sentences with many or few actual "points" in them because I know that so long as I talk in a clean, thoughtful manner similar to Fitzgerald, I can write a sentence to infinity and back again (say, of one hundred and four words or so,) and never have to worry about losing my readers.

I think I'm okay with some one thinking "so what?" or"I hate this" after reading something I write. I don't write personal essays for anybody but myself. I think some of the authors we've read, but not all, had this thought in mind too. From this class, I know that I want to continue in striving to write my best and convey my thoughts well so that others don't say things like those above, but if they do I'm not going to let it bother me. I am not going to write with the acceptance of others in mind; I'd rather devote my efforts to laying down my thoughts, raw and honest, on paper.

My favorite piece we read in this class was Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" She was clear and concise with a lot of force behind her words. I also really enjoyed the "On the Way to Rainy Mountain" essay I just read- lovely descriptions in it.

After reading all of the essays assigned for class, I have realized exactly what a personal essay is and that there are a couple of different forms of a personal essay. Some can just be opinions and feelings you get about a certain topic or place; how something makes you feel, it's not always a huge, dramatic change in your life, but gives an important contribution to what forms you.
I think my favorite essay thus far would have to be "My Face" by Benchley. He does a phenomenal job in describing not only how he feels, but I think he gives a quite universal theme, atleast something I certainly relate to, with a good twist of humor.

What I have learned thus far about the personal essay, is truly how personal it is for the writer. It's so interesting to read as the writer tries to make sense of what he/she is writing about, like we are on the journey with them. The simple things in life are worth writing about, and sometimes we can find more meaning about ourselves, or about life in general through them. This has taught me to look at events in life I have encountered more deeply, and realize how some of them have changed me.

My favorite essays we have read have all been by George Orwell. He is not afraid to display his flaws, and that makes his writing brutally honest and more real. His descriptions are also great, and really paint the picture and brings me into his story. His writings have taught me that it's ok to be honest, even when it's not the proudest moment.

What I have learned thus far from reading personal essays is that they are in fact truly personal. A lot of the essays focus on a simple event in life, and from it, many essayists find a deeper meaning or more insight about themselves or life. This shows me that I can look at the smaller things I have encountered, and through it, see how they have affected me or changed me.

My favorite essays have all been by George Orwell. I like them so much because he is so brutally honest, and not afraid to display aspects of himself that he is not proud of. This makes him seem more real and relatable. I also think he has great descriptions and it always brings me into the story more. His essays teach me that it is ok to be honest, even when it's not about the proudest moment.

sorry about the double post it told me it didn't work the first time!

I think the biggest lesson I've learned about my own writing from the essays we've read is that it really is the details that make the difference between a boring and effective piece. My favorite essays have been the ones that make me care, the ones that suck me in with the slightest sensory detail. The topic could be about the most utterly boring topic in the universe, but if I know every detail about how boring it is, I can find interest. Another thing I've learned it that, many times, the most difficult topics to write about are the most meaningful pieces. My favorite essay so far has been "Notes of a Native Son." His depiction of every event was so vividly real. I also really loved the tensions and underlying themes from his life.

From exposure to our selected reading thus far, I think that I have collected many subtle techniques and approaches to implement in my own writing. My most cherished lesson has been on simplicity. Empty phrases and wordy descriptions can only go so far in the realm of creative non-fiction. I need to try and reduce the insulation in my writing and increase my emphasis on the heart of the matters being addressed. My favorite essays so far have been Dillard's "Death of a Moth" and Benchley's "My Face." Dillard's work is very mentally provocative and intricately textured with strong imagery and metaphor. Benchley explores a timeless concept in an outright manner that is pleasing to see on the page and outside of one's own head.

I have learned that there are many more writing styles in writing a personal essay than I was aware of. Since I was able to see so many different ways I can write a personal story, I plan to look at the readings that I enjoyed and use them for an inspiration in my writing. Some of the readings I found to be boring so I will use them as a source to stay away from so audiences that have similar tastes as me won’t find my paper dull. The essays that I found most enjoyable were the amusing stories such as “My Face? by Benchley and “Just Walk on By? by Staples. I also really liked “What’s Inside You Brother? because I admired Toure’s ability to write such a good story while switching from second to third person. I also enjoyed it because he was able to keep me guessing about who the main character was until the end of the story.

One of my favorite essays thus far has been "He and I" by Natalia Ginzburg Although there wasn't much action, I was thoroughly entertained while reading it. Conflict was shown without much hostility and the character of the narrator was revealed through passive-aggressive jabs at "him". It was amusing to me that such opposites are (presumably) a couple and have been together for a while. The small details that might have otherwise been overlooked were employed by the author to convey the message of the piece without simply stating it.

I think that I am going to try to incorporate some of the techniques that Ginzburg used in her essay in my next essay. While doing the in-class writing, I found that it was easy to find comparisons between myself and my good friend, Taylor. Although we have more similarities than the characters in "He and I", we also can be quite different. Being away from her has made me realize how much I miss her and how important she is to me.

My opinion on personal essays, after what we've read in class, is that there are an infinity ways to come across effectively. The more intimate, emotional styles of writing have appealed to me most. A challenge I want to take is to look at these author's careful choices of words and make my own writing precise and comprehendible to others while provoking self reflection.
My favorite essay has been What's Inside You, Brother. It's the best example I've read of revealing an intensely intimate side of a someone trying to get through the badass, tough-guy kind of influences.

From the readings we have discussed in class so far I have learned that personal essays do not have to follow cookie-cutter formats to be effective. The essays we have read have conveyed their ideas in a variety of ways, but most of them have still been extremely effective. Some essays have recalled specific events (for instance "Shooting an Elephant"), while others have seemed more like lists ("He and I"). It surprised me how effective of an essay "He and I" was because the list-like format of it was not something I had considered before when doing my own writing. This format is something I would like to try.

I have learned that the personal essay does not have one specific format. There are so many ways to get across your point to the reader. I realized that is is often better to let your reader come to his own conclusion. My favorite essay so far have been "Notes of a Native Son" and "He and I." In "Notes of a Native Son" Baldwin masterfully used stories about his life to show much more than he came out and said. "He and I" was cute and amusing. I really liked the list format of the essay and I never realized that type of style could work in the personal essay.