author magazine

If I am being honest, I wasn’t sure I even knew what a lyric essay was. To me, it looked like an essay open to emotional tangents with a loose interpretation of sentence structure. The lyric essays I stumbled upon in online literary journals seemed to borrow from poetry, following rhythm and aiming for a feeling rather than a clear narrative. Confusion seemed okay, if resolved or brief. None of the lyric essays I read resembled anything close to my carefully plotted, dark humor fiction, or my structured, traditional personal essays.

The lyric essay seemed to come with a big red, “Do not touch” button throughout my thesis year at my MFA. I’d spent my first two years immersed in my fiction program eagerly soaking up any advice I could get to ensure the completion of my thesis project. My attempts at building a writing life pre-MFA had been filled with self-doubt and a desire to perfect every sentence before I sent a piece out into the publishing world. Several people in my MFA community warned that the newness of a blank page with a dash of inspiration could easily lead me onto a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail through the woods and far from my thesis. I listened, and I pursued no other projects.