Masterpiece Ink

Where Good Writers Become Great Writers

What Matters?

The Holiday Season / 2023-24:
A text I enjoy sharing with older students is “On Self-Respect,” a 1961 essay by Joan Didion. This essay faces off with some of the deepest but rarely articulated concerns of young people, i.e., Who am I really? and How do I bring my best self into the world? Didion is relentless in her willingness to analyze herself in relation to complex personal and professional challenges; to advocate for self-respect; and above all, to remind us that to be one’s own strongest advocate is to prepare oneself to make our unique, and therefore best, contribution to the world.  In writing about her own journey she also teaches us what it means to be a great writer: She utilizes complex stylistic structures in the service of a provocative message that challenges readers to discover where they stand in relation to it. And so we see that it is actually in reading that the writer’s voice begins to take shape.  Writers (and that’s all of you): Wishing you happiness, health and full voice at the holidays, and always.

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