The rigors of academia mandate that we write in one form or another for most of the first 21 years of our lives. After that we write to get jobs and to keep them, we write to engage in the commerce of our culture, and we write to communicate with others and with ourselves. This last genre is perhaps the least practiced but among the most important since writing is a process that helps us make meaning. Writing is both a verb and a noun; it represents our best thinking and helps us arrive at it. The irony of the term, the personal essay, is in learning to make rhetorical choices to help us to develop our own literary and personal values and the experiences that helped to generate them we begin a journey that ultimately takes us beyond ourselves and into the community, which can establish our common humanity.