Meat market with customers.
Image by Thomas G. from Pixabay

Gutting Ourselves On the Regular

Personal essays tear us up for a few pennies at a time. Is it worth it?

Edie Meade
5 min readJan 25, 2021

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We value memoirists and nonfiction essayists who can penetrate the grief, horror, heartache of life and show us something raw, something essential in humanity. We value them so much, in fact, that it’s become something of an industry on the internet.

In a sense, writing has always been an exercise in pain excavation. We know that. Writers are often at the heights of their creative powers when they’re probing the depths of their most painful moments.

Today, however, readers are conditioned to crave more because the internet allows access to it. We want more because we have more. And so a writer who bares her soul once is compelled to bare her soul again. If she shared a painful truth last week, she must share again this week, and next week, and next. And that takes guts.

The problem is we only have so many guts.

At their best, personal essays can sensitize and nourish and reassure readers. Readers come away with a feeling that they aren’t alone in their struggles. They may not have considered an angle the writer draws out. They may overcome stigmas and feelings of shame.

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Edie Meade

A compassionate and opinionated human being. | Fiction author and visual artist in Central Appalachia. | Give my newsletter a try: https://bit.ly/2sZGM6n