Masters tales

Essays

5th December 2012

“Essays?” I asked, “really? Like factual… well… essays?”

Shockingly the answer was – yes.

Now I’m confused. I have an archaeology degree and essays where the pattern of life… How can you use the present to analyse the past? And so on. But I never anticipated anything would be like it in creative writing.

Except that if the archaeology essay is a factual gravity of a situation, then a creative writing essay is the opposite, a piece of writing that explores yourself and the world around you. Based on fact – yes definitely but it is designed to put you own opinion across. What is more interesting, at least for me, is that you can say more than you mean…

Okay I’ve written one that tell the story of my Dad having and accident, the neighbour dying and an old farmhouse crumbling, but I’m also saying that life is what you make it – evolve with the punches that are thrown don’t just lock the door and leave.

Who writes essays…

  • I’m pretty certain that Will Self’s work could be described as an essay although he maybe in the grey area between narrative and essay. What he does do though is write a blog and blogs are modern-day essays.
  • Thomas Lynch with Y2KAT
  • George Orwell who had a series of essay published.

So essays can be modern but they have been around for ages. Based in Journalism they are the ultimate indulgence for a writer. I mean you can ramble along a page looking at one subject or two and loosely weaving in other stories in order to get your point across. I find it wonderful. You can use language that it difficult to read or language that is easy. This lose framework allows me to explore language without wondering if my story has a beginning, middle and end, an essay doesn’t have to.

I’ve popped and extract of the piece I wrote for class so by all means have a read.

The old man who leads me up the stairs is bent over with age, back curved and feet unsteady. We just locked it, he says with a shrug. He isn’t worried, the room holds no pain for him. They just don’t need it any more, yet before me is a silent tableau; a shrine to childhood. I go to step past him and he stops me.

The floor isn’t safe.

He leaves and I remain at the doorway looking into what must have been a happy home. Now all the laughter has gone; the red has faded and the orange looks more like rust. In our home we evolved, we became adult and moved on, taking our rooms and changing our possessions, here they just left. Cobwebs coat everything but even in the dim lighting I see the toys; a rocking horse, a tin robot, a teddy and in the centre a toy balloon surrounded by a still life. I feel as if I’m trapped in a lost and found room, that someone has lost their childhood but instead of being found it was forgotten. A playroom once filled with footsteps and laughter now echoes with silence.

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