Your inner essay-lover

By Ivo Dimitrov

If UCU will cultivate anything in you, it is most likely a passionate hatred for essays. The only memories they seem to leave are the countless stressful hours of typing and referencing. It might be time to rediscover the true art of essay writing. One that, surprisingly, does not involve APA-styled footnotes. The Boomerang suggests your future bedtime read.

If this is your first foray in reading essays for, well, pleasure, Virginia Woolf’s feminist classic “A room of one’s own” would be a good start. Published in 1929, the piece explores the position of women in writing – and society – at the turn of the century. Woolf’s lengthy and frivolous sentences would surely have been rejected by your Research in Context teacher, but since when do you care about conciseness? You are most likely a girl (60% chance), own a room (even if in Kromhout) and have some money (stufi, I suppose?). It is time to follow Virginia’s example and write.

Once you find yourself intrigued, George Orwell’s “Why I Write” is a logical second step. Our favorite dystopianist will show you how to write essays for reasons other than deadlines. Who knows, the exploration of his passion might trigger a newfound motivation in you. But if we are to believe Orwell, it is most likely sheer vanity. Plenty of that around campus.

Looking for a bit of inspiration? Look no further than “The Choice of a Profession” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Rebelling against the conventions of Victorian society, Stevenson explores a young man’s path to the right career. His refusal to take over the family business will sound familiar to UCU’ers facing high parental expectations. Especially good news for law majors: the author never practiced law despite having obtained a prestigious law degree.

Mark Twain’s “Advice to Youth” will also prove fruitful to your endeavors in the grown up world (that is, once you graduate). From the art of lying to knowing how to work around your parents, you will find Twain’s wisdom very much applicable to your own life. Advice number one? Go to bed early and get up early. If this feels like an impossible crusade, fear not. Christopher Morley’s humorous account in “On Going to Bed” explores what is undoubtedly the single most defying struggle of humanity.

So, next time you get a snarky remark by your professor, remember that a PhD does not transform you into a true essayist. Just quote Orwell when you hand in your no-reference, 12-page postmodernist masterpiece. You will know you have made it.

 On the Art of Living With Others, by Arthur Helps


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