Trying Something New

I want to write like Brian Doyle. I discovered him not too long after he died in 2017 at the age of 60 when I read His Last GameNot only did it bring tears to my eyes but throughout my reading I felt a tightness in my chest and a longing that the story would end happily when I knew that it wouldn’t. The inevitable sad ending was never said in so many words. I was in awe of Doyle’s “style.”  

His Last Game had been on my mind when I came across a definition of the lyric essay. Aha! I decided that His Last Game had to be a lyric essay. I’m not sure I wanted to write a lyric essay so much as I wanted to write like Brian Doyle. But if I followed the examples in Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola’s book: Tell it Slant, I would have a set of rules to apply rather than trying to dissect Doyle’s style on my own. 

So, I decided I would tackle writing a lyric essay. 

The Lyric Essay:

The lyric essay is similar to the personal essay in that it also deals with a topic that affects the reader.

However, the lyric essay relies heavily on description and imagery. Lyrical suggests something poetic, musical, or flowing.

This type of piece uses a heavily descriptive flowing tone in order to tell a story. 

I love poetry. I took one class in how to write poetry about ten years ago and I always read my stories out loud to listen to the sound of my words as they intermingle with each other. How hard can it be?

First, I read a lot more Brian Doyle, mostly with tears in my eyes and that familiar tightness in my chest. I finally completed my own short essay that I dubbed a lyric essay, aka, imitation of Brian Doyle. 

I got feedback from the members of my writing group and two other writing friends I keep in touch with via email. Helpful. But the best advice I got was that I was not Brian Doyle. I should not try to write like Brian Doyle. I needed to be me and write what comes out of my essence. So that’s what I eventually did. I finished my so-called lyric essay—still about nursing—but with a different slant. The exercise of dissecting words, connecting meanings and showing another way to view the obvious was challenging. 

Is my writing better? Maybe. Maybe not. But as I struggle through the telling, I have learned to use a greater variety of options.  

I’m prepared to send my essay out for submission. Let you know what happens. 

Author: Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, showing what a nurse practitioner does in her job will educate the public about we nurses really do. So few nurses write about ourselves as compared to physicians. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold

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