The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4

Narrative & Memoir 41 Originality Peter Kennell I like to call myself an author, though I don’t really have any grounds for doing so, or any adjectives to attach to that definition. As far as “good,” “bad,” “boring,” or “interesting,” I’m just as happy to let other people decide what to attach if they call me an author. As one of those strange people who enjoy reading and writing about worlds which never existed to begin with, one of the things I value highly is originality, the ability to imagine and create something new rather than following the worn old path laid down by generations of others. However, I have struggled with originality from the moment I first picked up a pen and paper for one very simple reason. As King Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever walk this earth, stated so succinctly, “There is nothing new under the sun. True to this principle, originality has always been something of a holy grail to the arts, an ideal always sought but never quite attained. After all, only God has the power to create something truly new. Nevertheless, authors have never stopped striving for this ideal, and I personally believe that the closest to achieving it one can come is when he finds a worthy idea as his quill, dips it deep into the well of his own imagination, experience, and understanding, and writes by the light of the Creator’s guiding star. Thus I seek to emulate this pattern. Though true originality is an unattainable goal, I still cling to the idea that there is always a way to make something more original, more unique to my own experience and understanding, than my previous work. Unfortunately, this idea is often extremely difficult to put into practice; in order to create works unique to my own experience and understanding, I have to first seek to understand myself. This task has proved nearly as impossible as achieving true originality. Nevertheless, in the process of pursuing it, I feel that I have grown both as a writer and as a person. This journey has by no means been simple, nor was I quick to gain this insight. My aspiration to originality and ensuing search for self-understanding has been a lifelong struggle rife with failures and