categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
A great place for a personal essay to start is with a long-cherished belief. Like that vitamin C helps colds, or that Jesus wasn’t married, or that the ocean is too vast to harm, or that such-and-such a writer is great or horrible, or that such-and-such type of music is boring, or that such-and-such city sucks. And on and on.
Abstractions don’t really count, as you can’t really can’t get into much depth about whether love is all you need, love is all you need, love is all you need. And straw men (stuff that everyone knows isn’t true, exhaustively argued) don’t count either. A couple of which I’ve got listed above—I couldn’t seem to help riding my various hobby horses.
State the belief, and then set out (through research, travel, interviews, experiment) to prove yourself right, or wrong. Wrong makes the best essay, with the movement from surety to correction providing the drama.
Bill Roorbach has a way of sounding right even when he’s wrong, and he’s often wrong.