If someone tells you that they can help you whip out a great college (or personal) essay in just a couple of hours, then beware. That is not how a powerful essay is written. In fact, it might take a bit of time to write enough, think enough, tease out meaning enough to “find” the real essay that is hiding underneath the surface; the one that packs the real punch, gets at the real truth, isn’t just one more trite, but true message not worth the effort it’s taken to write it.
Sometimes, real essay writing will feel as if you are slogging through a swamp with thick mud clinging to your boots.
Sometimes, it will feel slightly confusing and/or scary. Should I say those things? Is this the right place to admit my fear of failure, or my real failure and/or my insight into failure from the multiple times that I have failed to reach whatever goal, realistic or unrealistic, that I have set for myself. Won’t they think the worse of me for revealing this rather unseemly underbelly of real truth?
The answer is a decided no. Authenticity rings forth in a way that pretty sentences cannot. Depth of real feeling, genuine wrestling with ambiguous feelings, situations, circumstances tends to bring out a strong reaction in most of us: empathy.
I am fond of saying, “If I am not at least teary by the end of this essay, then it’s not doing its job.”
An essay’s job is to move the reader. To give that person a strong reason for having spent the time to read it. To hope the reader sees/feels/tastes/touches/hears and smells the world in a new and different way. A way that packs a wallop of truth.
Okay, I am closing now.
But don’t fall victim to underestimating the time it takes to write an exceptional essay. No need to hurry. Just take it word by word, sentence by sentence, until you reach the end. When you do that, you’ll know in your bones it is a winner.
After all, it is the truth.