This is one of the best explanations I’ve read on why write autobiographical essays. The “ordinary” in the title caught my eye–I’m a big champion of “ordinary” lives (which we all know never are).
A guest post from the essayist Joe Bonomo:
I write in defense of the ordinary life. Two common impulses in writing autobiographically—what happened to me is important; what happened matters because it happened to me—are problematic, since very few of us experience dramatic, statistically rare events during our lives, and yet all of us experience, well, something. When I begin an essay, or find my way into a subject autobiographically, the qualities of my experience or character don’t really matter in and of themselves. I try to recognize what in my unique experience might be, in the recollection of and in the telling, emblematic of something larger, something not exclusive, something recognizable. With each essay, I begin with something that matters to me. Then I begin to consider, How might this matter to you? By which I mean, How might it matter?
“We only store in memory images of value,” says…
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Richard Gilbert said:
Love this post! Very wise, not to mention truly artistic.
I really need to get his book of essays. I’m just wrapping up a super busy semester–I hope I can get to all the books that have piled up to read!