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A Reminder That I’m a Personal Essayist

I started this blog when I admitted I was a writer, even when I wasn’t actually even actively writing. I needed to give myself a legitimate platform to owe and publish writing practice on. The ‘Why’ of my blog was for my writing. I admit that I forget that sometimes.

In 2012, while attending the Bay To Ocean Writing Conference held on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I happily discovered my writing style was personal essay. That revelation was provided by George Merrill, who taught a class session that day on the subject of personal essays. He made my conference experience memorable. And the validation gave me an extraordinary high.

The sky fro a Reminder that I'm a personal Essayist on Shalavee.com

A couple of years later and I recently have found myself in Doubtland. So today I attended another workshop by Mr. Merrill to bookend and remind me of what I love to do. His exuberance and genuine teaching ability are inspirational. He embodies the good story, that which connects us. The telling process is human validation.

An authentic personal essay is forged from honesty and an intimacy with yourself. The subjects may be ones you have to push yourself to reveal the truths laying under your mental rocks. The process involves an exploration and a fascination in questions we share universally. The self-revelation is inspired and our passionate exploration may lead to a place most would just avoid. As a personal essayist, I have to find my way to these uncomfortable places because that means I’m growing. Because, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Soon enough.

Personal essayist is storytelling on Shalavee.com

Stories authenticate our existence. They heal us. They reconnect us. They are exactly what other people want to hear and share when we converse. And they are a reflection of a society at a given time. Historical and necessary, one person at a time. And all the information George, who aptly referred to himself as an elder, provided has given me another round of validation I guess I needed.

Journaling and blogging as a medium were not mentioned and yet are very much a part of my personal writing experience. Through journaling I developed my voice. Because there I speak to myself without being concerned with another audience. Once that voice cemented into my style, the blog then became a place to practice purposefully. The blog format was constructed, and has been abused, as a personal storytelling platform. Yet, this is what makes it compelling. Sometimes my thoughts are spit out and published in a rough form but among the typos and the tense problems, there’s often an image nugget and human truth you can take away and place on your soul shelf. Because I’m am living in real time on my terms, in my words, here and now.

Fiona chewing on the pencil eraser from A reminder that I'm a Personal Essayist on Shalavee.com

The writing of a personal essay is not an egotistical act. Because I do not write it to call attention to myself but to share an authentic thought with even just one other person without pandering and manipulation. So not an egotist, I even have a hard time asking for people to like my blog because I want people to discover me and like what I do on their terms. That detail needs some therapy though because having an audience does make me really happy. And the bigger the audience, the more I’d probably contribute. It benefits everyone.

Thank you George Merrill for you enthusiasm for your craft. I’m sending you a note and the dollar I shorted you for your book. Looking forward to reading your essays and the inspiration to keep writing until I am an elder too. Hopefully one who can inspire others half as well as you.

And thank you to my readers, to those of you who say you enjoy reading what I write, it means more than I could put proper words together to describe here now.

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14 Responses to “A Reminder That I’m a Personal Essayist”

  1. kathy says:

    Ah! I almost went to that and am sorry I missed it – so glad you found it helpful!

    • Shalagh says:

      George is compelling and enthusiastic Kathy. Such a joy. And Mr. Jerry is helping me compile a list of Delmarva bloggers so that I can begin plotting a bloggers meet-up. A friend of mine said she’d really like that fresh blood and perspective. Stay Tuned.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  2. John Yeo says:

    You are in a process of self-discovery~Well written~ Thank you πŸ™‚

    • Shalagh says:

      Thanks John. I am in a constant process of self discovery. I hope the fun doesn’t end. But when it does, my husband says, we’ll then know it all.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  3. Amy Reese says:

    I enjoy your writing style, Shalagh, and am so happy you pinned it down for yourself. You sound very confident in knowing what your goals are and I admire you for that! Very good!

    • Shalagh says:

      Oh Amy. I admire your ability to write fiction equally as much. Especially your genre which I have always been a fan of. That piece about your brother, that was a personal essay and a half. And the moving van from hell. It all depends on where you live.
      Goals schmoals. I’m faking it until I make it here.
      Thanks from the bottom of my heart Amy.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  4. Heather says:

    “Sometimes my thoughts are spit out and published in a rough form but among the typos and the tense problems, there’s often an image nugget and human truth you can take away and place on your soul shelf.”

    Yes! Shalagh, there’s always a gift that treats your readers. I have a few if those on my soul shelf. Thanks for those. You are most certainly an essayist and I’m glad you got recharged and reminded of your talent. Keep writing!
    Hugs,
    Heather

    • Shalagh says:

      Heather,
      Oh how I love reinforcing comments from the women I consider excellent writers too. You are too swell. Thank you so much. I look forward to reading more of your writing. And I’m coming to you to ask you for an interview soon. Stay tuned.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  5. Andrea says:

    Ooh, great Post! I think this style of writing is akin to the urgency of any artist to get image/idea on paper, in sculpture, in whatever medium. It’s an expression of you.

    Not about ego, but about getting it out there in to the world.

    • Shalagh says:

      I agree. That each creative process is about finding the truth in yourself and then finding out how you interpret that and how it changes you as it moves through you into the medium you are working in.
      Thanks for this Andrea.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  6. Playing catchup πŸ™‚ I loved this post Shalagh. Love the idea of looking at the blog from a personal essayist’s perspective. Somehow puts more meat on the bone.

    • Shalagh says:

      Thank you so much for being here. And Lady, you’ve got ‘meat'(talent that needs no justification) enough for three or four. Dontcha know, I turned my computer on tonight with the intention to head right over to your blog and love on you a little. So incredibly weird and cool that I find you’ve been here and said this.
      Love to you and your eccentric loved ones.
      Shalagh

      • ha. They’ll like that πŸ™‚ Thanks Shalagh. Been a bit weighed down with a logo design in recent weeks, (in the Logo …drop an octave … ZONE). Haven’t been very active lately in Blogland. xx

        • Shalagh says:

          I like that, when you have something to say, you say it, and picture it like you mean it. Publish when you feel that and it will always be just fine. And you’re earning a living in that ZONE.
          Love,
          Shalagh

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