Why an essayist?
My first serious encounter with the essay form was in Margaret Hagler's composition class at Lincoln Land Community College in 1978. Our textbook was Eight Modern Essayists, edited by William Smart. Here I read E.M. Forster, James Baldwin, and George Orwell. "Politics and the English Language" really put a hook in me.
A few years later I was sitting in the library with my notebook trying to puzzle out the different varieties of human error. There was innocent mistake, willful evasion, mental illness, and--something else. It took awhile but I eventually figured out that the something else was foolishness, a lack of common sense. Not a great revelation to some, but it required that I challenge some of my assumptions.
As I sat there pondering, I realized in a flash (an actual flash; the lights changed color) that what I was doing was writing an essay, and that that was what I wanted to do with my life.
I have travelled a long road between then and now. For many years I wrote very few essays, but instead made thousands of pages of notes on things I noticed about ideas, other human beings, and art. I studied Ayn Rand's essays, and they meant a lot to me, but so did those of other essayists such as Walter Kaufmann, Paul Fussell, and Paul Goodman, even when I disagreed with them, as I often did.
Eventually, I began writing a blog. Soon after that, I wrote a long essay refuting Sam Harris' odious views on the subject of free will. A little while later, I published a collection of essays on the theme of "fantasy vs reality in American life" called Killing Cool. I have written a number of essays since then, but I stalled when in the same year my website was hacked and I started having some trying health problems.
Now my health is much improved and I have a wonderful new website to showcase my essays! The ideas are flowing and I want to share them and help people find clarity and experience wonder, which are the two most important values in my own spiritual life. I invite you to come with me!