Confessions of a Lapsed Essayist

19 June, 2019

If there’s one form of writing I’m fascinated with, it’s the essay. I’ve always loved reading good essays. I’ve always loved trying to write essays. What fascinates me most about a good essay is that it takes techniques from fiction and non fiction and melds them into a unique hybrid of the two forms.

But the essay is more than just a literary mashup. It’s a look into the ideas, opinions, and viewpoints of the writer. You get peek at a slice of the writer’s life, feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

It’s a wonderful thing when an essay touches your heart or touches your mind. A good essay taps into your emotions. It shows you something you might never have seen thought about. It ideas and points of view which may be contrary to your own. A good essay makes you feel. It makes you think.

I’ve been writing professionally for almost 30 years. Early in my career, I spent a lot of time writing a lot of essays — learning and honing the craft, trying to write the best essays I could. Some of those essays did see the light of print and most of them still hold up today.

Over the years, writing essays took a back seat to other writing that paid the bills. Writing essays is a skill. Like any other skill, it waxes and wanes with the amount of practice you put in. My skills waned to the point where I’d lost all confidence in my abilities.

Starting in 2014, I decided to try to hone those skills. To bring them back to where they were. Maybe, just maybe to apply all I’d learned about the craft of writing and go beyond what I’d done in my (comparative) youth. Much of what I wrote was good for clearing the cobwebs, for removing the ring rust.

It took me a while to get my confidence and chops back. I’m not entirely sure I’m there yet, or if I’ll ever be there. That’s all part of the writing life, though.

Scott Nesbitt