Week 1: what I’m looking for

Identify the kind of writing you want to do, provide examples, explain those features that attract you.

It seems too easy to say I want to create pieces that linger with people, that resonate with something deep within, something they maybe didn’t even know was there. I want to create some sort of lens through which the reader can view the world with openness, compassion, and hope, but, more importantly, truth. I don’t want sugar-coated, feel-good stories or sentimental sap. I want humor and insight and patience and appreciation.

“Goodbye to All That” – Joan Didion
– covers a universal time in a woman’s life without being trite by 1) identifying the commonness of the experience; and 2) using simple phrases to avoid dramatizing
– using specificity to make details unique
– language and structure matches tone of essay: languid and nostalgic when recalling pleasant memories shifts abruptly to despair and fatigue; she doesn’t linger over the heartache because that is not the point here

“The Fourth State of Matter”- Jo Ann Beard
– brilliant use of theme with plasma, time with her dog, her relationship with her husband, and the shooting; creates cohesion and understanding by grouping like things together in an unexpected way
-use of language–vivid and touching moments without being too sentimental

“The Love of My Life” – Cheryl Strayed
– everything is present right at the beginning using simple language so it’s not over-played
– refusal to come to a reassuring ending; reality above closure
– so much raw truth and emotion must have been physically painful to write and publish

“Black Holes” – Bill Capossere
– seamless transitions between research/science and the more personal exposition- covering a “popular” phenomenon makes the science more approachable- good use of speculation–using the fragments you know to draw logical conclusion about what you don’t


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