I just finished reading Alain de Botton’s Essays In Love, and was reflecting upon the perfect de Botton made in using the word “essays” in his title.
As someone who spent over ten years in a French-language education system, the word “essay” has always been tied to the concept of trial and error. The French word “essai” literally means to attempt an therefore an essay to me is an exercise in trying to articulate — through text — thought previously unvoiced.
Looked at in this new light, de Botton’s book takes on a whole new meaning: his essays in love are quite literally attempts (not all successful) to rationalize the highly irrational concept of love.
I try because I can
At a blogger meet-up earlier this month, a very pretty and talented woman asked me what I write about on my blog. My first instinct was to simply respond, “I write essays.”
Partly because I get intimidated around pretty and talented women, and partly because I thought that reply would sound a little pompous, I ended up just replying with a simple, “whatever comes to my head.”
In all honesty, Sameer Vasta is an essayist. My oeuvre consists of attempts (of varying success levels) to ask questions, answer those questions, and address the issues based on my knowledge and experiences. And while I write essentially for myself, it is because of you, the readers, that I must attempt to be clear, concise, and compelling.
Paul Graham, in his excellent piece entitled The Age of the Essay, explains this concept well:
“In a real essay you’re writing for yourself. You’re thinking out loud. But not quite. Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well.”
So to that pretty and talented woman I met a few weeks ago at the bloggers meet-up, I apologize for lying. I don’t write about “whatever comes to my head.” I ask, I answer, I elucidate, I articulate. In short, I try, I attempt to tell stories every time I put pen to paper. (Yes, I write all my posts out on paper before typing them out.)
On that note, Merry Christmas everyone, and here’s to another great year of stories and essays ahead.