To “essay” means to try, and a personal essay is an informal and idiosyncratic attempt to explore an idea and its relationship to the author’s life. Rooted in personal experience and often written in an intimate voice, like a letter to a friend, it is also a record of a mind at work, a way of thinking on the page. A flexible and capacious form, it is open to any subject and to a range of tones, although its exploratory, self-questioning stance is its special signature and strength.
A few examples
Virginia Woolf: “Street Haunting.”
Annie Dillard: “Total Eclipse.”
Jane Silcott: “Divine Language.”
John Sherman: “Taking Up Smoking at the End of the World.”
To learn more
https://creativenonfictioncollective.ca/listen-whos-afraid-personal-essay-workshop-andreas-schroeder/ (password protected for CNFC members)