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The Decline of the Essayist

March 21, 2013


To continue with the theme of last week’s post, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about writing. When I was pregnant I thought about it a ton, too, trying to figure out ways to streamline my business—the old cliché of working smarter, not harder. I’d ask myself loads of questions about whether I should be taking on more corporate writing projects with fancy titles like Creative Director of Brand Copy with the hopes of bloated paychecks to match, or continue on my editorial path that I so do love from a creative standpoint, but often wouldn’t be associated with a lucrative salary.

It was also around this time when I was really trying to figure out what I was trying to say with the danapop space alongside my editorial assignments at paying publications. At its core, my writing has always been a series of personal essays. They say we read how we write, so I’ve always gravitated towards non-fiction writers. Right now, I’m finally reading this on my Kindle. It’s been a lovely escape, as good books always are. Which is what I’ve always wanted my site to be, a slice of life. My life.

Last month, I stumbled across this article in the New Republic about the essay as reality television. This is a topic of our generation and the piece is absolutely incredible. It’s essentially saying that today’s best writers are caught in the trap of embellishing true stories and some do it exceptionally well (David Sedaris), while others are far less believable (Davy Rothbart) in their writing. Even before I read the piece, I often thought of what writers of decades past would think of today’s business of writing. How would they feel about social media? Or self-publishing? The decline of the newspaper industry? The speed in which articles are written? The non-existent role of a fact-checker? The fluffing of reality for the sake of a better story?

What would Hemingway Do? #WWHD