When I say essay, I used to think “long, meticulous report about a meaningful topic”, but this definition has definitely changed over the course of my journey with English this year, starting with the summer. You may think it’s too early for me to mention a journey in English, but I think that the class really kicked off during the summer when I got my summer assignment, which was to read Huckleberry Finn and a few essays. While reading the essays, I noticed that they weren’t your typical five paragraph, cut and dry essays, but powerful, deep essays that drew you in and initiated conversation with your inner thoughts. They were all very well developed and paid no mind to how many words were on the page or how many pages there were: the essays took up as much space as they needed to convey the author’s message. The essays that I had been writing hadn’t really been essays, I felt, but more like formal mad-libs; there was a set format for everything and we were just plugging whatever topic we were writing about.
They were nothing interesting, but they taught me how to piece together sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into essays to connect to larger ideas. In a way, it was kind of like playing piano; everyone plays the same standard songs in the beginning, but as you delve further and further into music and become more experienced at playing and reading music, you have more choices and are able to diverge from the beaten path. The grueling middle school and high school underclassman essays built a foundation for the essays I write now.
In addition to my own redefining of the word essay over the summer, today I learned that an essay originated from the French word, essayer, which means “to examine or test, an attempt”. I intend to essay a challenge for a month that I won’t say much about now, but I will post regularly on; I think a weekly update on how I’m doing would be alright. This has been something I’ve been wanted to do for a while and I’ve decided to take the step and document it with my blog, hoping that writing about it will compel me to try it out. Even if it doesn’t work out, hey, it’s an essay.