The above is one dictionary's definition for the word essay. French for "to try," essay connotes a piece of writing that strives to put forth an argument, to convince, to compel. It's a form I'm particularly attracted to, not only because I like to write from the 1st person perspective about non-fiction events, but because it's about the maximum attention span I have for a single piece of writing. I feel like I write mini-essays on this blog about once a week or so. But that's just lazy stuff. Just-for-fun essays (oxymoronic as that may sound).
My friend Renee, on the other hand, is a serious writer. By that, I mean that she--despite having a husband, two children under the age of 3, and a full-time teaching position--CARVES out time in her life to write. And I'm not just talking about blog writing (although she does that, too). I mean that she answers calls for submission and actually gets her work published. Not only that, she also edits and publishes other writers' work. Oh, and there's that bit about the spiritual memoir she's writing, too. I marvel at both her drive and discipline. And as she has done since we were best friends in high school, these days she really motivates me to try harder and put forth more effort--into my writing, for just one example.
A few weeks ago Renee proposed that we exchange some writing--a two-person writing workshop. She said she does better when working under a deadline, and I can certainly identify with that. So we set a date for an exchange--her for a chapter of her memoir, me for an essay fit-for-submission.
Today's New Activity: Not-for-Fun Writing Workshop
It's not that I've never written an essay for submission (though the occasions have been rare and limited to pieces even shorter than typical essay length). But in the past year of just getting back into my glow (ha, I meant to write "flow," but "glow" works too :), merely getting my feet re-wet in the writing arena, I've neglected to even dream of submitting. It was a true inspiration to have Renee make that suggestion. That she has faith in my ability to offer her helpful feedback I consider a true compliment.
One thing today's writing exercise says to me (or screams in my ear, I should say) is that I've a long way to go when it comes to writing for submission. The beauty of the blog is also its writer's downfall. It's just. so. easy. No publication's-typical-audience-preferences to consider (my blog's typical audience is my friends (with a couple of significant exceptions). They don't really mind what I choose to write about or how. They're mostly reading to be supportive, anyway), no set deadlines or focused subject matters, and, best of all, no maximum length limits. In order to submit for publication, I will have to keep in mind all these factors, researching the intended publication and working within their established guidelines. That means discipline. That means planning and executing.
Ugh. The thought of it makes me feel the overwhelming desire to take a nap.
But it's really the best kind of pressure I can place upon myself right now, because putting my energy into writing is the single most satisfying thing I do outside of Mamahood. And I trust 100% in Renee's guidance and editor's eye. It'll be an honor exchanging (written) words with her...