WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Essay it ain’t so

Oh, dear, so very much to read

Here’s an essay at Lit Hub, looking at how Virginia Wolfe wrote an essay complaining about how many personal essays there were in 1905, comparing that complaint with a more recent one complaining about the same thing. That’s three essays about how there are too many personal essays, all packed into one personal essay!

I bring this up as my “memoir” in vignettes — essentially a bunch of little personal essays — is hot off the virtual presses. It’s called In No Particular Order.

The thing is, there probably are too many personal essays out there, mainly because they are popular to read and write, and they’re relatively easy to write. And there’s a marketplace for personal essays online at sites like Vox and Salon, so you can actually get paid for writing about that time you sat next to Vanna White for three hours on a plane and she was really really nice.

Wolfe gripes that personal essays are just opinion pieces, and since she says so in a personal essay I guess that’s just her opinion. Frankly I didn’t read the whole Lit Hub piece because I didn’t care what the writer’s opinion was. I was mildly curious about what Wolfe had to say. My opinion is that the opinions of famous people are more interesting, generally, than the opinion of some writer at Lit Hub who’s just thrilled to get an opinion piece in Lit Hub. That said, I’d be thrilled to get an opinion piece in Lit Hub. I probably should have submitted this one.

The bottom line is, writers love to write, and writers have had it beaten into their heads that they should write what they know. No one knows more about anything more than they know about themselves, so there’s a natural invitation to write personal essays. I admit, I probably know more about what not to flush down into a septic system than I know about myself, but I don’t think that would make a very interesting essay.

And that’s why I’ve published In No Particular Order, because it collects all the little personal essays I’ve written over the last four years into one convenient package, and by the time a reader finishes reading it she’ll know more about me than I know about what not to flush down into a septic system. And that’s a lot.

You can buy In No Particular Order here for just 99 cents.

[Image via Wiki Commons]

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14 comments on “Essay it ain’t so

  1. islandeditions
    June 7, 2017

    There’s nothing new under the sun … even complaints about literary genres supposedly out of fashion, it seems. I say, Write what you want and what suits you, and the “trend critics” be damned! (What did VW know, anyway???)

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 7, 2017

      Heh heh. I agree, though. It’s impossible to write toward trends without missing the boat eventually.

      • islandeditions
        June 7, 2017

        Better to build an entirely new boat, I think, and let others try to board it.

  2. C. J. Hartwell
    June 7, 2017

    Best written personal book marketing essay I’ve read. Well done. It would have worked, too, but I bought your book yesterday. 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 7, 2017

      Hey, thanks, Christi! Much appreciated. I hope you like the book and are moved to spread the word. 😉

  3. pinklightsabre
    June 7, 2017

    Nice piece and like your sassy l’il tone there, mister.

  4. 1WriteWay
    June 8, 2017

    I’ll need to read Woolf’s essay later. She wrote quite a few of what I would consider to be personal essays so perhaps this one was tongue-in-cheek or the Lit Hub writer was taking the essay out of context. I don’t think the irony that she wrote a personal essay to complain about personal essays would have escaped Woolf’s brilliant mind.

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 8, 2017

      I bet you’re right. Unless she set herself apart from the personal essay rabble.

  5. Ilona Elliott
    June 8, 2017

    I resemble that remark! I say write what suits your writing voice, and for some of us, personal essay is the best fit. Love that you know so much about what not to flush. Did you learn that in school or from personal experience? I need to get myself a tablet or reader so I can explore more books. Best of luck with yours.

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 9, 2017

      Actually, as a major offender, I have no problem with personal essays. They’re like mini-documentaries, in a way. And you can always stop reading if you’re not interested in one or another.

      As for septic knowledge, it’s experience-based. Time to get the crew out here to pump it out, matter of fact … 😉

  6. dennyho
    August 18, 2017

    Stumbled across your site as I searched ‘essay’. Wonder if Ms. Woolf would purchase your book today? Personally, I enjoy reading essays…they can tell alot about the writer.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 18, 2017

      I’m afraid my essays might tell you more than you want to know right off the bat! 😉

      I have to think VW wouldn’t be a big ebook reader, do you? But it would sure be nice to get a blurb from her!

      Thanks for popping by …

      • dennyho
        August 18, 2017

        Yes, a comment from her Room With A View would be most exciting and welcome!!!

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2017 by in Publishing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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