A new essay is just a piece of paper.
It’s a simple, repetitive piece of writing.
And it’s not hard to understand.
“The key is not to be a total blank slate,” says Kathleen M. Brown, a professor of English at St. John’s University in Toronto and author of The Essay, a guide to writing a modern essay.
Brown’s book, published this month, has been hailed as a classic in its field.
In her new essay, titled “How to write an essay without actually breaking a stitch,” Brown says she started out with a simple premise: “It is a fact of life that many people in the West, including some of my peers, have been born with an inability to make meaningful and thought-provoking essays.”
The idea is that a simple piece of written prose, one with a clear, direct message, can make the difference between a writer being a success or not.
The essay starts with the sentence: “This essay is a response to a new proposal from the White House,” Brown writes.
That phrase could mean anything, she says.
“There are many possible meanings of ‘new’ and ‘proposal.’
But I find that, in my experience, it is often framed in the form of a response.”
She writes: “In my experience there is no new idea in the modern essay, or new proposal in the traditional form.
There is no novel or innovative theory.
There are only a few simple, direct, and simple-sounding words.”
I have to be honest with myself when I begin my essay: The reason why I am writing this essay is to demonstrate that there is nothing new in the way that we write about the West.
“For Brown, that means a lot of things.
She says that she hopes the essay will help people find their voice and make them understand the world differently.
Brown says she writes her essays “to be provocative, not a self-indulgent self-help book.
My aim is to be as honest as possible, to give people an opportunity to think through their own ideas and how they relate to the world.
I hope that this essay will have the power to change how people think and to inspire them to think differently.
“If you’re looking for a book to read, Brown suggests The Essays of Eleanor Roosevelt: An American Life by Martha Gellhorn.
She says: “I hope my essay can inspire people to think about their own lives and what it means to be American, and to make their own choices.”
Brown hopes the book can inspire other writers to follow her lead.
This post originally appeared on CBC News.