The Space or Event Essay: Thirteen Examples


Unlike the memory essay, the space or event essay will require you to write about something you will be experiencing for the first time as you write. This does not mean you cannot employ elements of memory as you investigate and discuss your topic. What it means is that you will be writing in “real time,” experiencing something with the intention of writing about it.

Until this point, many of our pieces have relied strictly on memories. Going into a new environment or experience with the intention of writing about it will change the way you experience and record the event. I am asking you to enter the moment or space with a writer’s eye, using powers of observation to both participate in and find the significance of a space or event you enter purely for reasons of creating this essay.

If you are choosing a space, choose one you have easy access to and will be able to visit readily. If you are choosing an event, make sure it is happening within the confines of the essay dates. Keep in mind that an event need not be something large. It can be something small, a gathering, a visit, or it can be a concert or a lecture. Any of these ideas and other choices will be relevant if written about in a thoughtful and prepared way.

In this essay, whether based on a new experience on not, the space or event should be a main character. Space or event can be important for structuring a narrative, and objects and surroundings can communicate a lot about the experience to the reader. Focus should be on the power of these elements to act as characters in the narrative alongside descriptions of the self and other people. Space and event are not necessarily separate. Your piece may focus on both; do not feel the need to separate these concepts artificially.


Student Samples

These essays went through two drafts. This means that students revised these pieces with peer and instructor feedback.

Mike reflects on a childhood experience involving injury and hospitalization.

Tyana reflects on her childhood neighborhood and family dynamics.

Maria reflects on being an adopted child.

Adriana reflects on her experience attending Coachella.

Will reflects on coming out as a gay man to his family.

Neziah reflects on writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

Emma reflects on participating in a gymnastics competition.

Justine reflects on working at a fast-food rest stop.

Anne reflects on her childhood beach home and her brother’s struggles.

Hannah reflects on attending Comic Con for the first time.

Jillian reflects on the closing of her childhood church.

Zachary reflects on the death of his grandmother.

Erika reflects on her experiences with basketball and her relationship with her father.


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