A rough guide to the different kinds of essays you may find yourself wanting to write.
I have been thinking about this as well, how essays can be a form of personal storytelling. Thank you for sharing all this and for your class. It's been fun and inspiring to see all the different styles. And I love the word enshitify, ha! Good luck with your book!
This looks great, and I look forward to reading. Great essays can be life-changing. And on a less serious note, I'm thrilled that "enshittified" has now entered my lexicon!
“Even Helen Macdonald’s 2014 hit memoir H is for Hawk had a distinctly essayistic bent, weaving meditations on grief and loss.”
Curious to read this! Especially given the nature theme. And looking forward to the essay series.
I am excited for the essay series, and I loved the bit of history you gave us here on the form. So much to learn! I enjoyed Essay Camp so much and am glad you will continue to give us your insight here. The work I did over the first five days of November were an assemblage of thoughts and notes that led to this essay published today on my Substack: https://amybrown.substack.com/p/divorce-splinters-your-idea-of-home. Thank you again for continuing to encourage and inspire us in this form. I am both new to Substack, just over a month, and new to writing and publishing essays, although I have been a nonfiction writer and journalist and written novels since my 20s. The essay form seems to fit the phase of life I am in right now--ruminative, exploratory, knowing at 63, there are no straightforward answers to the big questions but you have to keep asking them. P.S. Was glad to see your work had a shoutout on @Writers at Work’s essay workshop hosted by Sarah Fay this past weekend.
You left out just one thing: the essay has become more and more popular as the attention span of the average reader has dwindled to that of a hummingbird or cricket :)
This was a great post - the first paragraph was so powerful.
No more paid subscriptions on Substack, I had told myself. But I love essays and want to delve more into them, so I have signed up. Looking forward to it.
I so benefit from Mike Dooley's notes from the Universe series.
"The top 10 ways to make friends, find love, trim down, shape up, defeat boredom, discover your purpose, make a fortune, shine your light, [& write life-changing essays]:
1. Get quiet.
2. Start anywhere.
3. Lean into it.
4. Open your heart.
5. Keep busy.
6. Schedule play.
7. Ask for help.
8. Don’t look back.
9. Give more hugs.
10. Feel gratitude.
I'm excited about your new series, Summer. I have a lot to learn about essays and look forward to doing that here :-)
This is really great!! I’m so grateful to you and your willingness to help and share! Really looking forward to learning how to develop my writing skills. So curious about all the different types of essays!!
Looking forward to this series. Perhaps at some point you can discuss the process of working with an editor and accepting or negotiating edits gracefully. In the last Essay Camp I wrote an 1200 word essay that I drew upon for a short piece that was commissioned by a magazine. But going from 1200 to 500 words was like turning a potato into a single potato chip. Editing is both an art and a massacre.
(I tried to post this earlier I don’t think it went through, so apologies if this is a repeat.)
Thanks so much for this whole series, Summer. I have never been compelled to participate in NaNoWriMo, but I always felt guilty about that and your essay camp opportunity gave me a way to be involved that felt perfect.
And, in a deeply unexpected series of events, my most intimate friend outside of my family died unexpectedly this past month. Most of her friends are musicians, so she will have many musical compositions to commemorate her, but what I have is words.
You’ve given great structural guidance that I can use to help honor her life -- and I’m very grateful to you.
Hi Summer. I just want to thank you for your work and I will be signing up as a Paid in anticipation of your Essay Series. I too am embarking on a book of linked essays for my next, third, book and I like you, love the vignette form as well as other slightly longer 'fragments'. Anyway, I look forward to reading your insights and wisdom as I absolutely LOVED High Heels which I just finished! What a great book! You voice is so exquisite and generous. Friendly, knowledgeable, smart...all the things. I'm really I read it despite not ever being a fan of high heels and thus not giving them much thought. Your ability to weave ideas is masterful and yet also somehow easy and authentic. We've probably all read essays where it feels like the author is just showing us their cleverness. So, thank you. Don't want this to become an essay. Much looking forward to your new series! Ruthx
I'm so excited that you are offering this. Could not have come at a better time for me, I'm ready to dig in! Thank you!!
Love this little snapshot of the history of modern essays! I love the form (both for reading and writing) but always worried I 'should' be writing a novel, or short stories; that the essay as a form was 'over'. Recent reading trends and this post has convinced me otherwise! Sign me up for the full essay series!! :)
I’m very excited for this! I’ve wanted to expand on writing and loved doing your Essay Camp--but struggle to figure out what to do with the writing afterward. I want to treat my writing like my art--mostly about pleasing myself without needing it to be perfect. Plus there’s something brewing in my mind about pairing the writing with the art.
This is so awesome! Road trip on the essay bus! Thank you for inviting us along.
Good luck with your book; looking forward to that.
Adding Jia Tolentino to your essayists list. And Nina MacLaughlin.