I recently read A Personal Essay By A Personal Essay by Christy Vannoy originally published in McSweeney’s and in Best American Essays:2011. It was snarky, dark, and very, importantly true. You can read it here. You should read it. It is a commentary on personal essays. How the saddest one wins. The person with the worst life deserves to be published, and not the writer with the best writing, skills, and talent. It is both a critique on these over the top sad stories, and the editors that publish them and the readers that love them. We all slow down to watch a car wreck. And who doesn’t love to watch the metaphorical car-wrecks of celebrities’ lives on reality TV?
I always believed that it didn’t matter what the topic was to be a good writer. I could read about a shoe and find it interesting if the writer made me. From Montaigne to David Sedaris, we see people pulling off essays about every day, menial life. I find it frustrating when I hear writers say that they can’t write CNF because they have never had anything interesting happen to them. Of course you have, things happen every day. Make it interesting. Write about a Tuesday.
– Carol Glover