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Message to Readers
This has been a particularly difficult prompt for me, which explains why I only just finished it this evening. I would be extremely grateful for any comments/ ideas/ improvements you have, whether they be about the theme, tone, syntax, word choice etcetera. Thank you :)
I love, love, loved the idea of a person's "interior decor." It's a fresh take on a person's changing perspective and well-being through the passage of time.
I completely related to the sentimental attachment to physical objects. My books especially hold memories of the different stages in my life, and I, too, "loathe to discard" them.
I don't believe there are rules in personal essays--there's no "right" balance between scene and reflection because it comes down to voice and stylistic choices. I thought you balanced it marvelously, though I'm biased because I'm attracted to personal essays with more reflection/description (vs. true narrative/plot). I prefer my personal essays ambiguous, and my fiction anchored in plot--what can I say?:)
The final sentence was a wonderful clincher, but I did feel like the essay ended a bit abruptly. It wasn't a question of length. I think it's because I wanted to see the extended metaphors carried through to the conclusion. We're introduced to two wonderful "story threads"--the interior decor element and sentimental, inanimate object element. The interior decor element is carried throughout the entire narrative, but I would have liked to see more references. The inanimate object element is fully fleshed out in the paragraph where you tell the story of sentimental do-dads. You convey your grief in this paragraph, but in your conclusion, you never give that grief, which is tied to inanimate objects, a satisfying close. I expected your conclusion to include references to the inanimate objects when you talk about your acceptance of time/the past/life. There was a wonderful opportunity for you to talk about metaphorically "packing up" the inanimate objects that symbolize your hurts and burdens. In your words, you can "tidy up" your life by sorting through the tangible manifestations of your grief.
Helen, it was such a treat to read your entry! I love the melancholy that hangs over your reflections and your poetic choice of words. Most importantly, you reveal your vulnerabilities and secret longings, which allows readers to connect on a deeper level. I shared your grief for lost relatives, your yearning for times past, and your clinging hope that by holding fast to souvenirs, you might keep the happy memories associated with them.
I hope my comments will help with your edits, but please let me know if anything was unclear because I have a tendency to be ambiguous. Especially when I'm half-asleep;) I also wanted to mention something about my critiques: I usually point out places that need improvement more than I give praise. So bearing all my criticisms in mind, I want you to know that I think this is a wonderful, intelligent first draft with heaps of potential. The depth in this piece is bottomless, and you are fantastic:) Have a great night, and good luck with the contest, girl!