I can’t remember the exact moment of awareness or epiphany that made me go, “Aha! I want to be a writer!” I do remember writing – the act of it, the sense of comfort from it, the warm relief when I was in the company of blank pages and time to fill them. The fifth grade was a strange year, as it is for most little girls, and I took notes on the dark pink lines of the diary I received that Christmas. I recorded likes and dislikes, words I heard but didn’t understand, and questions about the social minefield that is middle school. I believe it started then, the act of writing to understand, and as I was writing from life, the form that found me was the one named for what I was doing. I was attempting to make sense of my environment. I was attempting to take control of it by writing it down. I was essaying.
Writing became the way I processed the world. It was how I took all the pieces and put them together. I wrote to understand the place, the people, the behaviors around me – and myself in the equation.
In that way, I have always been essaying.
Those of us who become professional writers – journalists, essayists, bloggers, creative non-fiction types – I suspect that we all use the act of writing as our tool to make sense of the world. Or, at least, make what sense we can from the mess of it. Fiction writers and poets do this, too. I don’t want to exclude them. But I do want to shed a light on those of us who broke out of our private journals and into a public forum without much change to our form.
Because in that way, we have always been essaying.
It is for those writers, the essayists, that I’ve focused this site on the act of essay writing…or “essaying,” if you will. Here you’ll find resources for growing your essay habit, or practice, or compulsion – however you think of it. Together, we’ll navigate the essaying life, since in our lives, we are always essaying.