A Short Story About a Big Idea
So let's talk about this essay. Where do you begin? First you need your idea. Where does your idea come from? Your idea, you're not a reporter, you're not a researcher, you're a reporter on the topic about which you know more than anything else in the world, yourself. You know there are some people, and I'm sure, they are actually very good people, probably much finer people than I am who come to my classes with an issue, ah, it seems awfully self-involved to write about myself. I just, I never have this problem incidentally. I've been writing about myself for a very long time as some of you know, and I don't think that there's something sort of narcicisstic and egotistic about that. I think probably you'd rather that I have spent these years writing about myself than writing about you, for instance. In as intimate and open a way as I've been writing about myself. You're the world expert on you and nobody is going to give you an assignment to write your views on what's going on with im...
migration in this country, or the healthcare situation or climate change. They're not going to turn to you for that. That's not your platform. Your platform is your life, and specifically the aspects of your life that are least likely to have been shared by everybody else. The piece of your human story that is most unique, that you own, and it may be a very painful piece. There are people in this room, and I'll be talking to some of them, who are experts on very painful things. So what are your areas of expertise on yourself? What are your themes, what are your passions? What are your obsessions? You know, our obsessions get us into trouble in life. For most of the rest of our lives we sort of, we shy away from going to our obsessions. You know, I'm obsessed with food. I'm obsessed with shopping, you know, I'm buying from Amazon every single day. I don't wanna be doing that. That's a problem in life. In writing your obsessions are exactly what you want to go to. It's counterintuitive, the things that may be, that may have created a lot of issues and challenges in your life are the same things that you need to look at in your writing. And I urge you to write them down. To keep a notebook, even, of your obsessions. Some of you may have watched my first class on CreativeLive. I talked a lot about the obsessions list. You might not think you have to write them down. Does anybody wanna name an obsession right now? Something that just keeps on haunting them. They don't want to but they go back to it again and again. This is still, you're, yes. Speed! Going fast. You don't mean the drug. You mean going fast. Yes. (audience comment) Okay. Important to know that about yourself. And I know exactly who this is, this is Carolyn we're going to be talking later today about. Important to recognize what the themes of your life are, that link all your stories. And in fact, when we were talking about a collection of essays, a collection of essays that stay on theme cease to be just a collection of essays. It becomes Carolyn on speed. Which might have two meanings. The experiences that have defined you. And you don't have to tell them to us today. The important thing is that you identify them for yourself. The biggest challenges, the greatest obstacles, sorrows, losses, and sometimes victories. I want to be mindful of the fact that not every personal essay has to be about the hard stuff. Locate your themes. Write them down. And then. Link them to a story.