The late Donald Murray, considered by many as one of America's greatest writing teachers, used to say that writers, despite their best intentions, often keep telling the same story over and over again. For me, it is the story of the wronged son. Somehow nearly every personal essay I write seems to find its way back to that theme, no matter how much I hope to send it in other directions. "Return to the Typewriter" was no exception. Even an essay about collecting manual typewriters had to be about my sad, alcoholic father and the wounds I suffered from his drinking. I think personal essayists are obligated to recognize these master narratives when they appear in their work, and to view them with suspicion.
This document was originally published in Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction by Michigan State University Press. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Ballenger, Bruce. (2017). "The Gestalt of Revision: Commentary on "Return to the Typewriter"". Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, 19(1), 175-180.