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The trips were wholes unto themselves. They were stories. Not only in form, but in their taking on direction, movement, development, change. They changed something in my life: each trip made its particular revelation, though I could not have found words for it.” (Welty 68)
A personal essay draws on the experiences of the author to make a larger argument or point about the world/society/relationships/etc. Further, like folklore, such essays are culturally and socially situated, revealing more about the culture than about the author. A good personal essay will speak to its audience, who may be able to gain perspective from the experiences or people discussed, through the use of vivid, descriptive language. In this kind of essay, the freshness and vitality of the language is key. Your essay should include narration and description to bring your reader on your journey with you and exposition to help explain the significance and larger importance of your place or thing.
You have two choices, pick one:
A. Write an essay about a place. The place itself is secondary here and can be somewhere you have been, as in Alexie’s “Phoenix, AZ”, or a place that only exists through the story, like China for Kingston in “No Name Woman”.
B. Write an essay about a thing. As in option A, the thing, like the place, is secondary, to a larger point you are trying to make. Instead it functions as a marker, a signifier of something bigger, like the scroll at the beginning of Kingston’s chapter “Shaman” or the cold swimming suit in White’s “Once More to the Lake”.
A few things to keep in mind:
• In any option, this essay is not really about writing or telling a story or describing a place or thing or place. If you stop there, you have completed an entry in your journal. Instead, you need to think about how you will connect your experience to your audience.
• That means that you need to think beyond the immediate and the highly personal. To do so, consider writing not about something that you immediately think of as significant, but rather something that might at first feel fairly mundane. We are not surprised or enlightened by your having a paradigm shift on your mission trip. The meanings associated with your favorite baseball cap, on the other hand, might be much more interesting and speak to common experience in a much more profound way. Seek your topic among the mundane.
• Show, don’t tell. Giving an a good description is much more convincing than simply stating “this thing is significant because….” Your goal is to let your reader experience what you experienced.
• Finally, reach for fresh language. Watch out for cliché. If you find yourself ending up with an easy, trite, or well-accepted moral, then you need to go further.
Above is the direction. Please follow the direction above. Also please elaborate on the paper I have attached.
YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH A CONCLUSION with the two stories I wrote. Somehow connect that into a place or a thing.
The trips were wholes unto themselves. They were stories. Not only in form, but in their taking on direction, movement, development, change. They changed something in my life: each trip made its particular revelation, though I could not have found words for it.