When I was in 9th or 10th grade (I had the same teacher for both years, so the time melts together), I had an assignment to write a short story. I wrote a lovely story about the life of a piece of pocket lint. My teacher told me she enjoyed my work, finding it well-written and creative. Those glowing comments came along with a great big “F.” When I asked her why I received an “F,” she said it was because the assignment was to write a story, but what I wrote was an essay.
At the time I really didn’t understand what the difference was. Even today, I sometimes find the difference very slight. I think that may be because I naturally gravitate toward essays when I write. I like to dabble in all kinds of forms, but I think at heart, I’m an essayist.
And I believe I am an essayist in all of its forms. Of course, an essayist is one who writes essays. When considering essay as a verb meaning to try or attempt, however, and not just as a noun describing a type of writing, I think I get at the core of myself as an essayist.
I am a person who likes to try. Although Master Yoda wisely spoke when said he did, “Do or do not. There is no try,” I believe there indeed exists a great space for trying, and that is the space I best like to find myself. I like to try new things. I like to try difficult things. I scoff at the impossible.
I’m not reckless in my trying, and I will gladly turn down a dare; nevertheless, I have a deep internal compulsion to explore and learn and create, and none of those things can occur without a first attempt – without trying.
So yes, I am an essayist, in both form and function. And although I was appalled by my teacher those many years ago, as it turns out, she was right.