Essence of you. Prompt #45

Step 1. Make a list of significant events that have happened in your life. Start with the year you were born . You can list important dates such as the year you graduated, got married, started jobs, vacations. Also, list emotional highs and lows:  betrayals, losses, inspirations, revelations, epiphanies.

Step 2. Choose specific years from this list and research historical events that happened during those years.

Step 3.  From your lists: Choose an event that you think people would want to know more about.  Or, choose events that capture the essence of you.

Step 4: Write about the event. Include specific details and use anecdotes.* Tie in your personal events with historical events. For example:  My junior high friends and I swiveled on cherry-red stools at Woolworth’s in 1962 in San Francisco, not realizing that folks with certain colored skin were not allowed the same privileges in other parts of the world.

*Anecdote:  A short account of a particular incident or event, especially of an interesting or amusing nature.

Next step:  Turn this freewrite into a personal essay.  For ideas about personal essay, click on the Just Write category on The Write Spot Blog. 


Lighting the path for reflection



Please follow and like us:


  1. Kathy Myers

    This is a helpful tool for starting a personal essay. The date is the stone tossed into a still pool and the story grows in ripples around it.

  2. Kathy Myers

    It was June 5th 1981. After a mere twenty-six hours of labor, and an unscheduled C-section, my precious son was born at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. I couldn’t give birth at St. Francis Memorial Hospital where I’d worked for eight years, because they discontinued maternity services in the early seventies. This made it less convenient for my friend and coworker Doug to visit, but he showed up with a gift in hand two days later. I suggested he come when I could finally move around, get a shower, and look presentable.
    I was Doug’s hag: the Grace to his Will, the woman in his life for everything but sex. “He better be gay.” My husband Rick would say, when I came home late after bar hopping with Doug on Union Street. Any man would be jealous of a wife who spent so much time with such a handsome man. With his dark straight hair combed neatly back, his long noble nose, perfect white teeth, and café latte smooth skin, Doug looked like one of the Mayan royalty of his ancestry. He had never been with a woman, and could only imagine it in his wildest fantasy. On my wedding day he joked, “It’s not too late. Make my mother a happy woman, and marry me. Imagine the beautiful babies we would have.” Doug had a tear in his eye when he first held my new baby, as I dubbed him his “Fairy Godfather.” What a happy day.
    We were blissfully unaware of another “birth” that day in San Francisco. Symptoms of immune suppression, and rare cancers in gay men had been observed for some time, but on June 5th 1981, AIDS was officially “born”– defined and given a name. I was fortunate that my surgery required no blood products, as the supply in the city was tainted with HIV. I was not infected, but my dear sweet Doug was not so lucky. He had enjoyed the swinging seventies as much as any attractive gay man in San Francisco— dancing and partying at the bars till all hours. But June 5th 1981 meant it was the last call in the bars—the end of an era. A plague was threatening the city.
    Our unit was hit hard in subsequent years, as many of the staff was gay. But nothing hit harder for me, than when Doug finally succumbed to the ravages of the disease. Tears filled my eyes when I held his hand as he drifted in and out of sleep. His smooth skin now had an angry fungal rash, and his kidneys were shutting down. Thankfully he had no pain. St. Francis may not have maternity services, but it’s a good place to die.
    A rich life, filled with family and friends, means many opportunities for joy, and inevitable burdens of pain. A single day can be the birth of one special person, and portent the fate another. Such a day was June 5th 1981.

Comments are closed.