“It is no less difficult to write sentences in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick.” Annie Dillard – The Writing Life
Essay writing is putting yourself out for the judgements of others; I can’t believe she said that, thinks that, does that. It would be easier perhaps to write fiction and have readers suppose what parts the author thinks and what part is the character or a combination thereof.
Writing an essay might be likened to generating a map for friends to a house party. People can probably get they’re on their own but laying out the directions and your experiences with the street with no street sign, the barking dog or the fuchsia mail box helps everyone get to the party.
David Foster Wallace is still in death something of an idol of mine. I enjoy his essays much more than his novels and his footnotes come a close second to the essays about; the Cruise, the Lobster Festival and Federer. I was so engrossed in his footnotes recently that I had footnote anxiety about a university course I was taking online. I found I couldn’t foot note anything and I wanted to footnote everything. The power of the written word.
I am not sure I could follow him in conversation but reading his essays and then going back to dig through grammar texts to understand context, well there is an amazing depth that literally blows my mind. Not literally.
Starting with DFW has led me to Annie Dillard, EB White, Maeve Brennan. The Pandora box of excellent essayists is a never-ending gift.
Cheers to the essay – read on.