Good writers often struggle with too much to say. They have a great idea, and they want to dazzle the reader with their knowledge and insight, and as a result, they often try to cram too much information into their writing. This is particularly true for the essay writer. Essays like this lead the reader to be confused, overwhelmed, or irritated. Readers like to walk away with new understanding or a fresh look at what they already know, and if they can't find "the point" in your writing, then they won't find time to read your ideas, no matter how great they are.
My reply is this:
Essays have two main purposes:
- they are an attempt of the author to wrap his mind around a subject
- they are an attempt of the author to accomplish 1. and give digestible take aways to the reader.
mine are mostly 1. I occasionally try to provide some take aways, but I believe that there are already enough people writing neat junks on linkedin structured in 3 paragraphs, 7 dos and 9 donts, that it doesn't need me to add more thereto; and there are even more people flushing their thoughts down twitter.
not everything we do, we do for others, but in the first place for ourselves.
when I set up dark matter essay in 2012, i wrote in the about page the following lines, and after rereading them, I believe they are still true:
This site is about dark matter the way I see it. Hence, this site is written in the form of an essay. the word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer, "to try" or "to attempt". In English essay first meant "a trial" or "an attempt", and this is still an alternative meaning. Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) was the first author to describe his work as essays; he used the term to characterize these as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing. In astronomy, dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized to account for a large part of the total mass in the universe. Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes; evidently it neither emits nor absorbs light or other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Instead, its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. Dark matter is estimated to constitute 83% of the universe, whereas ordinary matter makes up only 17%.
Since many years I have had the impression that although mankind exists since roughly one million years and man lives in so called civilizations for some thousand years, much that needs to be taught in society's educational bodies is actually not, and much that should be known is neither. It seems that we are fed with visible ordinary matter, but all the dark matter stays in the dark. I always had these questions that neither I could answer myself nor could I find others' satisfactory answers. why are we? [the most intriguing answer so far: 42. found in Douglas Adam's A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] and if given the fact that we are, how to make the best of our existence? what are the rules that should guide our life? where and whom can we learn them from? do they come from within? or does society have to instill them into us? is there a middle path, like the Buddhists claim, that leads to liberation? or is life just non-sense? if it is not, what matters and what doesn't? what makes some people succeed in life but others not? what is success? how can it be measured? why are success and happiness quite often different things? what are the ingredients for a blooming society? a strong state or a strong citizen or both? on this site I try to collect some dark matter that matters to me; and some things that are rather profane, but keep me interested in life.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
[T. S. Eliot in The Choruses]