Call to Action: Write a Personal Essay

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I am a fan of Haruki Murakami’s novels: I appreciate his perfectionism with respect to the craft of writing, and the care with which he creates his worlds and characters. But the book I have most cited and recommended to others is his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It has advice I have applied to my life as a writer and a runner, especially the idea that writing, like running, is a muscular endeavor that requires daily practice to strengthen. And I liked hearing what I believed to be his true voice—the voice he used to talk about himself and his life, not the performative one playing the part of storyteller.

Many of you are writers, by vocation or avocation, while others are not but have a story to tell. We thought that now—a time when so many are sheltering at home, filling the days with Zoom calls and the evenings with Netflix—might be the right time to suggest that you carve out a few hours to tell those true stories you’ve been meaning to share.

A model for the form is our Postscript essay: a 500-word personal story, with a beginning, a middle and an end, that recounts a moment, a relationship, or an experience that moved or changed you. 

Please send your essay to me at jillpatton@stanford.edu by May 30. We’ll publish our favorites this summer at Stanfordmag.org.

Happy writing!


Jill Patton, ’03, MA ’04, is the senior editor of Stanford.