Jane Friedman

Going Beyond Truth-Telling in Personal Essay

In an essay at Glimmer Train, writer Katherine Vaz discusses an assignment that is given to every student at her university: to write about “the most important thing ever to happen to me.” Immigrants may have breathtaking and heartbreaking stories, she notes, but what about the average student, a “So Cal surfer guy”? Vaz asks:

What’s the nature (or even the point) of truth-telling here? [One student] wrote that the most important thing ever to happen to him was…the night he and his pals got drunk and knocked down the mailboxes in the neighborhood. The easiest thing would have been to dismiss him out-of-hand. But I asked him if this was indeed what he wanted to write about—he did—so I asked him to tell me more about that night.

What Vaz discovers is that the act of writing each story can be a vital exploration about the nature of truths you might not even know you carried. Read the entire essay.

Also this month in the Glimmer Train bulletin: