Your teachers and professors are paid to care about your writing.
And when I read your work, I will tell you the precise moment I stopped reading.
There's too much to watch, too much to read, too little time to engage, let alone to write.
Every week, Essay Club reads an essay, article, passage, or short story and responds creatively--with an essay, short story, poem--to that week's reading prompt.
It's hard work. First, reading. Then responding, in writing.
Writing qualifies as hard work that justifies itself.
Even if you never showed it to anyone.
Here, you can show it to others.
Prefer to stay anonymous? Great, you need only send your responses (completely optional, but encouraged!) to firstname.lastname@example.org's an email box I monitor. I'll read your response to the weekly prompt and tell you exactly when I stopped reading.
Sound harsh? No, it's not. Because I'm not being paid to read your work, like your teachers and professors are.
With enough practice, you'll be able to--at some level--evaluate your own compositions. Your writing will be passing, maybe even good, well before you submit it to others.
By the way, there's no judgment--no judgment of you personally--on my part. This is hard for all of us. And your writing output can be separated from who you are in everyday life. That's a lesson I learned from engaging with Joyce Carol Oates's 'Where Is an Author?'
My name's Erik and I'm merely a guide.
What's my role?
Plucked from a stack of essays, articles, passages, and short stories I choose a weekly reading. In video format, I read a portion aloud and share the weekly prompt.
Then it's your turn.
To engage with the reading. To spend half an hour, or an hour, writing.
Essay Club is a place to wrestle with challenging essays, articles, passages, short stories, and to see yourself writing again. With more rigor, with more playfulness, with more appreciation that this activity is available to you.
If you're just joining us (we started October 2020), upon signup you'll immediately gain access to all the previous weekly readings and prompts.
But take your time.
And yes, even if you only joined this past week, I'll still reply to your responses to those past readings.
Just email email@example.com with ESSAY CLUB in the subject line.
There's plenty of bookclubs out there. And they're great.
But this isn't a bookclub.
It's an essay club. Where we all respond--through creative writing--to essays, articles, passages, and short stories.
Here's my response in essay form. Alternatively, yours could be a short story, a poem, a paragraph.
To be clear, here's what you get:
Once you are signed in, $10 per month gets you access to weekly readings and prompts. You can also opt to pay $99/year (~2 months free).
If you go for the yearly option, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ESSAY CLUB GOAT in the subject line and I'll send you my short guide to writing essays curated from my personal Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) writer list.
This weekly practice can supplement your schoolwork, as a middle school or high school student.
This weekly work can keep your writing skills sharp, as a college student.
Engaging weekly could deepen your everyday experience, as an adult who no longer writes much.
I'm here to encourage you every step of the way, no matter where Essay Club fits into your journey. You have to be the hero of your own story. With any luck, reading artfully and writing well will become two more tools in that hero's toolbox.
Get started with this weekly exercise, 'Why I Write' from George Orwell. (You will be asked to signup first if you haven't already.)
If you should have any questions at all--don't hold back--simply email email@example.com
Let's read and write together. Start now.
Erik van Mechelen