by Gabrielle Linnell
To write and sell an essay, first find a market. How about Mothers of Abnormal Children? MAC accepts essays from 500-1000 words, and prefers new writers to break in at the lower end of that number. So I'm writing a 500-word essay for mothers of abnormal children. How do I start?
Step Number One: Choose an odd personal event, hobby or habit.
I love fruit snacks. Seriously, I steal them from every family I babysit for. When my grandmother bought four boxes of Dora the Explorer snacks and Fruit Roll-Ups, it was very bad. I think I ate five or six roll-ups in a day and who knows how many Doras and Sponge Bobs.
Step Number Two: Link said odd personal thing to a universal problem, challenge or theme that is relevant to the magazine's readers.
My love of fruit snacks as a teenager most likely stems from a postponed childhood, because I was a precocious and gifted kid who spent all her time reading books and talking to grown-ups. Fruit snacks represent the abnormal child's desire to be a normal, Sponge Bob-chomping youngster, because all abnormal children crave normalcy in some way.
Step Number Three: Conclude with a personal discovery, observation or idea that binds the personal example with the universal theme.
I'm thankful for my abnormal childhood: it gives me great joy when I lie awake at night. I've had great experiences and won a developed mind in the process. But, when my hand goes out for miniature fruity Bootses and Swipers, it's nice to know I can have a little bit of normal kid life. If a little bit delayed.
Add a few more examples, quotes from famous people or indie rock stars, and make sure you self-deprecate at least five times. Ta-da! An essay fit for a king. Or at least, mothers of abnormal children.
Gabrielle Linnell writes in all her spare time and just got back from Barnes & Noble, where she spends her other spare time, pretending to be a normal child.