Thirteen years ago this coming July, I jotted notes while reading Susan Tiberghien’s One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft. In my notes, I included a quotation from Robert Atwan cited by Tiberghien:
What essays give you is a mind at work. — Robert Atwan (“Return of the Essay“)
This possibility provides the seed for today’s consideration.
Observing a Mind at Work
Imagine being able to observe the inner workings of a person’s mind while they compose an essay. While they try to compose an essay. Essaying is, after all, a trial. An attempt. An endeavoring toward some coalescence of idea(s) and words capable of infecting a reader with the same wonder and possibly even the same conclusion(s) as the author.
Imagine being able to eavesdrop in the mind of an essayist sifting memories and sorting experiences; distilling spirits from the fruits of life; alchemizing diverse inputs in the hopes of discernin