Take a look at this essay called Punch: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/447/punch and ask yourself why does it work so well?
This brief essay is 618 words. It goes from the personal to the universal quickly. First we understand a history of family violence -- this may be something we recall from our own families. Or we may simply remember a slap, a scream, a spanking, a threatening environment. Then Robertson write with raw honesty about the urge to hit his own child. A teen-ager. Who with teen-aged kids hasn't experienced this moment when it takes all you have not to use force...either from a reaction to their disrepsect or from the desire to make it stop or from the frustration that you aren't getting through? I am someone who vowed never to use violence, who dedicated her life to making peace, and yet there was that moment when I slapped my teen-aged son, unable to restrain myself because I was so angry. Robertson writes about it with grace and ends with the big question? If we don't stop it, who will?
Brief creative non-fiction gets straight to the lesson learned and does so within a wider context. Not only does Robertson have a realization about himself, but the dynamics of living together that extend far beyond his own family.
Just as I have begun a post about writing as a way to anchor ourselves through the storm or perhaps beam out light from the lighthouse through the storm and want to remind you that we are in a very treacherous storm. We are in the midst of cultural change that will upend our sails. We are in a powerful storm of racism, sexism, and homophobia. We are in a storm of intolerance for immigrants who seek a better life and intolerance on the public roads and sidewalks for those who we share them with. A storm of bad manners and bad habits, of addictions to the screen and instant news, whether it be true or just gossip. And a storm of health issues: from autism of our children to dementia of our elders, and lacking the support we need to improve their daily lives. A storm of loss and a storm of lack. And a storm of fear.
How will you weild your pen in these days of change? Will you share your story, will you find a way to be articulate, vivid, engaging, and insightful without being irrational, self-centered, or myopic? Outrage turned to something that uplifts us to try harder, sorrow that lights up our compassion, trauma leading to understanding, crisis that is an opportunity to have dialogue. I dare you to give it a try!