Words as Image: How “Thank You” Originated

January 17, 2014

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

girl w cameraSejal Shah discusses the origin of her recent Brevity essay “Thank You” and offers up an intriguing writing prompt.

I have often relied on objects and images to help convey meaning in my stories, poems, and essays.  Perhaps over-relied.  However, I also felt that I had found a way in to a telling a story that worked.  In “Street Scene,” a lyric essay about a close friend who took her life, I found the image with resonance that knitted the essay together was that of the now-filled-in swimming pool of my childhood in my parents’ backyard.  “Street Scene” is about remembering and grieving this friend, whom I met when she was in her thirties; the present tense of the essay is a week-long trip to Paris some years later, and the childhood pool initially seemed like a random out-of-place image.  (She had never even seen the pool and we might never…

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