Thursday, March 29, 2018

Publishing a personal essay

One of the pleasures of having one’s creative nonfiction work published is the
sense of direct communication with a reader. A personal essay, in particular, allows for an intimacy between writer and reader, a bond between two individuals unknown to each other but connected by the magnetic force not just of language, but of secrets shared. The writer is, in essence, saying “I have something personal to tell you.” There is an implied trust on the part of the writer and a willingness on the part of the reader to be a witness to an unrepeatable moment in time, to another’s private sorrow or joy. 

I was reminded of this when my most recent essay, “Hooked Up,” was published recently. Readers wrote to share their own experiences with the topic, creating a connection I hadn’t expected and an opportunity for a little more light, a little more understanding about an issue so many people have struggled with.  This, for me, is the best part of belonging to the tribe of writers and readers.  When I write and publish, when I read what others have published, I get closer to the world and remember, each time, why I value literature as much I value my next breath.  Sharing stories is the way we know one another, and know ourselves. This one, although laced with comedy, was hard to write. I’m glad I did.

Hooked Up
Nine p.m., the appointed hour. The person who opens the door is a surprise. I’d pictured someone in her sixties, calm and professional, with a tidy bun and a crisp white uniform, a clipboard in her hand and a name tag that says “Marion” or “Florence.” Someone who knows what she’s doing. Someone with steady hands and a soft voice. But it isn’t Marion who greets me, or anyone remotely like her. I consider backing out, but it’s too late for that. More