As an undergraduate, I took a class entitled “The Essay.” It was a 300 level course with extensive writing and reading requirements, something that was quite familiar to an English major. My interest had been piqued by this idea that I would be exploring the best of the canonized essays and, in turn, become a great essayist myself. Boy, was I wrong.
I’d like to clarify that this was not because I didn’t do the work or lacked creative talent; I actually had a lot to say for a twenty-one year old student—How could cafeteria prices be so high? Actually, what I’d never realized before throwing myself into the world of essayists is this: their success does not solely come from profound passion, intelligence, and talent (although this certainly helps); no, to be a great essayist is to be a meticulous craftsmen of language, which can only come through extreme ritual, practice, and patience. Continue reading