Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay is an expressive and explanatory piece that outlines the principles of informal writing. I feel that it does a very good job fleshing out the details of what will make a personal essay special and powerful. Most notably for me, Lopate describes the importance of being open and intimate with the reader, as if you were “speaking directly into [the reader’s] ear”(p.23).
This has always been my biggest challenge in creative writing, and I know why. I have analyzed time and again the reason that I struggle to show even a hint of vulnerability or real emotion in my writing, and the answer is that is scares me. The purpose of the personal essay is to show yourself to someone, as naked, exposed and true to yourself as you could possibly be. Whenever I think of this, I literally cringe. I struggle so much to be able to let others in, strangers, when often I feel that I am barely honest with myself about how I feel. I do have real, deep feelings, pain, animal instincts, vices. There are things about myself that I don’t like and there are versions of myself that I’m not proud of. Before I can become an effective informal/personal writer, I think I will need to start the journey of accepting myself. Maybe then I can feel comfortable stripping my soul bare of all of its protective barriers.