Tag Archives: Rosalynn Tyo

Inherently Solitary

I plan to use [an ereader] to read, alone, in public, and not to attract the kind of weirdo who, upon seeing me with it, thinks it’s okay to come over and ask to touch it, and how much I like it. I would never want that, and in fact, if I thought that was going to happen, I’d stick to print for public reading, even if it does my shoulder in.  If this desire to read alone, to engage in something so inherently solitary in the presence of other humans is objectively uncool, and society is one big high school cafeteria…I guess I’m cool with that.

Rosalynn Tyo

Outward towards the world

First, what a personal essay is not: it’s not journalism. It can be about anything  … but it is not written on assignment. It comes instead from the writer’s own fund of interests and obsessions, questions to be raised or answered, observations, fantasies, regrets, uncertainties, delight. It evolves from a desire to know or to understand, to make connections. It is often triggered by some sort of experience in the world. It will sometimes lead to research, always to reflection. Above all, it is engaged.

And it’s not a confessional piece.  … [A] personal essay needn’t be autobiographical at all except as a kind of autobiography of mind. Memoir is okay, but the expectation is that the memoir is not just a record of dates and events; it’s more like a meditation on a time and place and what their particular conjunction reveals, in retrospect, about the world, human nature, the writer’s own emotional disposition. …  So, the self, but the self isn’t all. … [T]he movement of the essay is not so much inward as outward towards the world. The personal is the conduit to something larger or more foreign.

Rosalynn Tyo


I do always begin with something I found, usually when I wasn’t looking (on the internet, on a random road trip, in a desk drawer I thought was empty). Sometimes it’s a quote, a set of facts, an object…the more random or obscure, the better, because I like to think I’m the first one (or at least the first one in awhile) to discover it and wanna make something of it. This feeling of discovery, however unwarranted, is preferable to the feelings I have when I try to invent.

Then I paste or retype these little scraps so that there’s something ‘real’ on the page to work with, or at least look at, when I begin the actual writing part, which often doesn’t happen until weeks or months later.  That way, when I re-open the document,I have place to start from.

Rosalynn Tyo