Summary of “How I Wrote the Moth Essay—and Why”
In her essay “How I Wrote the Moth Essay—and Why”, Annie Dillard explains how she wrote the first essay “Form Holy the Firm” and tells us the reason why she decided to write it. She concludes the wisdom on writing and expresses her attitude towards the personal writing. Annie Dillard had detailed journals descripting how the moth flew into the candle and got burnt. She was happy about that she had kept notes of what she read and what had happened in daily life because she can take advantage of them like in this case. Then she used these journals to complete the essay “From Holy the Firm”.
After the essay finished at first, Annie Dillard revised the essay very carefully both by taking out the fancy but not closely relevant paragraphs and by adding some her thoughts about burnt moth. She is opposed to personal writing and likes to write in a bigger picture because she thinks that writing too much about the writer’s personal experience in essay would lead the writer to forget what he or she really wants to express. Therefore, as a good writer, she believes that an essay must be objective and clear rather than deliberately mystifying.
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Also, in her point of view, keeping notes in journal is a great way to “accumulate” life and make later writing easier. The reason why she wrote the first essay is also explained in this second essay. Before writing that essay, Annie Dillard was very successful but puzzled and lonely. She wanted to figure out the the meaning of life and the meaning of everything. That morning Annie Dillard saw hollow moths which reminded herself her experience in a camp where she learned how to identify moths when they are empty.
The empty moth made Annie Dillard think that a writer is like that moth and she should empty herself to dedicate herself to art. Also inspired by Rimbaud, who was a famous crazy poet and respected by the author, Annie Dillard wanted build a connection between herself and her writing work. Therefore, Annie Dillard decided to write an essay about the moths with her thoughts on them, which is the first essay “From Holy the Firm”. Eventually she made it as a whole book.