Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Things We Write for Money

"Describe your goals and aspirations; school/community activities and awards, work experience and any unusual family or personal circumstances that warrant our attention."
-Prompt for the institutional scholarship essay

Why they require an essay in the first place is totally beyond me. I mean, come on, I've already checked all the boxes that tell them whether or not I'm a minority or a one-legged lumberjack. Do they really need an essay? Seriously, who reads it? Besides, when they say "write an essay" they completely leave out the part about length, so what if I write a mini-novel? Is that bad? Ugh. I hate having to write this thing.

For one, they want you to write about yourself. For another, they want you to make yourself sound good to someone(s) you've never met before. So, how does one write the perfect "I am great and you should give me money" essay for a totally unknown audience? Beats me. Still, my application isn't finished without the essay, and without a finished application, I lose financial aid money. It's a vicious system.

It's funny. In my fiction and poems I have no problems getting personal, but when it comes to nonfiction I'd rather not. I figure anyone who really wants to know who I am can meet me (or read my blog, whatever) but this artificial introduction rubs me the wrong way. I think in part because, even though it's you talking about you, it still has a feeling of fiction. If I'm fictionalizing myself, I'd rather be honest about it.

And yet, here I am, starting a rough draft all about my aspirations so some stranger on a committee may or may not read it. Super. *insert expletives here*

How about you? What do you think of writing bios, scholarship essays, etc. about yourself? Does it come easily, or is it a struggle?


Shane said...

While I agree that "Hi, I'm great, please, please, please give me money," essays completely suck (both the writing and the reading of them), I do understand why they exist. They are there to see how much crap you are willing to put up with to get the moolah. It's all about weeding down the applications. Really, if all you had to do was check a few boxes, everyone would give it a try.

Consider treating it as fiction (it really is). Just pretend "Ali is a goddess" and go from there. Oh, wait, maybe that isn't fiction?

On a side note, I was shocked to see a quote from yours truly on your blog. This is the first time I've visited (yes, I'm a total slacker), but I was already here, sort of. Weird.

Ali said...

Lol. I like the goddess idea. Let me see if I can find a way to subtly work that in...

As far as quoting goes - yup, no one's safe. Muah ha ha ha!

Ali said...

All right, the blasted thing is done and sent. I don't have to worry about it any more.

-John said...

Make sure you don't worry about it any less.

Whittaker Luckless said...

Hate writing about myself. I had to write an essay for school about how I grew as a writer over the course of the course. It ended up as me giving a eulogy at my own funeral. Pretty difficult noun issues occasionally--saying things like "I know I knew how cool I was, but I tried not to be too flip about it. At least out loud. I did confide in myself near the end, blah blah blah."

Pretty pleased with the result, actually. Might put it on my blog.