You asked: “Is it OK to say “I” in an impersonal essay?”

Otonepali pubertybath hutYour writing should reflect ‘YOU.’  It’s not easy to say that ‘you’ should completely disappear from your writing.  As a writer, please remember that whatever form you choose, you breathe life into your words.

Here are some links and suggestions.  Also, I’ll look and study tomorrow and write the results to you. Writing isn’t nearly as rigid as it was, even last year.  Travel stories don’t stand back from destinations or cultures any more (‘look at this, not at me’).

20- and 30-year old readers don’t always like or understand that approach any longer.  They enjoy the writer’s opinions and experiences. (I was shocked to hear 20-30 year old travelers say this.)

Virginia Woolfe claimed that human nature changed between 1905-1910.  http://books.google.co.th/books?id=E6apozlTK9QC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=dh+lawrence+and+the+impersonal+essay

I think it’s changed again. When I moved from India to a more developed area, I knew this was the dominant attitude, but I keep running into this ‘what? you? me?’ stuff constantly. People in Chiang Mai contort themselves to avoid meeting other eyes!

I decided that ‘cold-blooded’ describes part of today’s life. Ugh!  (To be fair, one of my students in China is doing great things.  Tomorrow I’ll post a picture of her military uni in NE China.)

Four years ago the Writing prof (me) would’ve trotted out a little lecture.  No more.  

I’d have said, “Stand back from your audience. It’s not the time to say ‘I'”  Now I’d recommend investigating Creative Non-fiction and Memoirs and see what other writers say.

I feel pretty strongly that on Dec. 4, 2013 we have all the cold-bloodedness and impersonal attitudes the planet can bear up under.

By the way, today’s photo is from Oklahoma Oto Indians, a puberty hut. Although my father was an Oto Indian we lived near the Choctaw reservation and were ‘untribalized.’ (We were not part of any reservation.)

By 1893 barbed wire was hitting the US markets and US Native American Indians like my dad were shipped off to government schools and didn’t learn many NA customs. (The use of rites of passage, herbs and Nature have slipped away lately. Indigenous folks believed these things enhanced creativity.)

In 1993, on my first visit to Nepal I saw this hut, made of freshly dried herbs in the south, or Terai. People bathed in it, having the hut damp so the herbs would steam into the hut.

I’ll continue to research the latest ideas about “I” in impersonal essays.  I’d also suggest looking at Writers Digest online. They have a reputation to uphold, so maybe their information would be valid.  And look through the links I’ve written earlier.

I’ll find more and post them tomorrow.  Good question!

Mary Ann from Thailand

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