Many of us were taught to write personal essays in the traditional way, where the events happen chronologically and we tell one story in a straight-forward way. This is not the way I tell stories.
The people I learned storytelling from, my mother, grandmother and other elders, weaved tales that brought in other stories and memories. They braided stories together. They jumped around. Their stories weren’t chronological and they weren’t linear.
When I learned to write personal essay, I learned the traditional narrative form, and was required to write in this way. This stunted my storytelling because it was so contrary to how I was taught at home. When I discovered experimentation in personal essay form, my writing opened up. I discovered I’d been “experimenting” for a long time.
This is the way I tell story: I weave; I braid; I collage; and you probably do too.
If you braid stories together, yours and your mother’s, your sister’s, your brother’s, you’re experimenting.
If you’ve created an essay using a recipe, you’ve experimented.
If you’ve jumped from one time period to another, and circled back, you’ve experimented.
Experimentation is about messing with form, structure and time.
In the fourth class of the Experimenting with Personal Essay Form series, we’re taking on the question: What is the braided essay?
When: May 19th, 7-9pm EST
Where: Online, via Zoom
How to register: Send an email with “Writing Experimental Essays May Class” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing Experimental Essays is a FREE/Donation based series brought to you by Vanessa Mártir and the Writing Our Lives Workshop. The classes are scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month, February to June, 7-9pm EST. The remaining classes are:
June 16th: What is the hermit crab essay?
Note: you cannot sign up in advance for all the classes in the series. Registration starts on the first of the month for that month’s class.