What does this say about me? That’s obvious. But what does this say about the subject of this blog post? Wait, I haven’t even revealed that yet! Here, I revert to the idea of the thesis, found at the end of the intro to the seventh grade version of the five-paragraph thingie we all, sadly, learned to call an essay (which it is not):
So is a book-length memoir merely a very long personal essay? An essay arises out of a question, and that question is a variation of the question at the heart of every creative work, short or long: what does this mean? What does it mean that there’s a creature called a wolverine on this planet? What does it mean to get cancer? What does it mean to lose a child? What does hate mean? An essay is a map of the trail a writer takes in pursuing her question. The question is unanswerable, or it has a myriad of correct answers. Or its answer is “none of the above.” A mind following such a map to its edge, to where the map ends, is a mind changed in the process, and that’s what the essay records. So I started with a question.
Eva Saulitis is the author of three books, the most recent of which, Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas, was published this month by Beacon Press. She teaches in UAA's low-residency MFA program and at the Kachemak Bay Campus, in Homer.