ESSAYS I LIKE 

Some are about New Jersey and some are not, but all of the following pieces of writing are examples of the kind of work I want to include in New Jersey Fan Club.

comparable BOOKS 

  • Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, and 639 others

  • Meanwhile in San Francisco by Wendy MacNaughton

  • Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit


PROMPTS

If you need a jumping off point to begin your work, maybe one of these ideas will inspire you.

  • When and how did you realize that where you were from was different somehow from where other people lived?

  • How has being from/living in New Jersey shaped your identity?

  • What are some things that you’d describe as “quintessentially New Jersey?” Which of those things are important to you in some way and which are not?

  • If you lived anywhere else for any length of time, what were some things you missed most?

  • What are some things you’ve noticed don’t exist/aren’t available in other places?

  • Have you ever been in a situation where someone said something disparaging about New Jersey? How did it make you feel and how did you react?

  • Have you heard any rumors/stories/folklore that have stuck with you but you don't know if they're true?

  • If someone who has never been in the state was coming to spend the weekend with you, where would you be sure to take them?

  • How did Hurricane Sandy affect you, your family, or your community?

  • How did 9/11 affect you, your family, or your community?

  • Tell us about something you experienced in a diner.

  • Please describe your hometown.

  • Tell us something you experienced while using New Jersey Transit.

  • Please share any gas-pumping anecdotes you might have. Do you know how to do it?

  • How long has your family been in NJ? Is much of your extended family here as well or are they elsewhere?

  • What are some places in NJ that you’d describe as being the most beautiful to you?

  • What are some places in NJ that you’d describe as ugly?

  • What are some places in NJ that have a reputation as being undesirable/ugly but that you have a soft spot for or otherwise appreciate?

  • Is living in New Jersey a choice for you? Do you want to stay or leave?

  • What are your thoughts on New Jersey-related things that have found a spot in a larger pop culture, like Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of NJ, or Garden State? Have you seen any of these shows or movies? Do you think they’re good or bad for New Jersey’s image?

  • Describe a place that is important to you and has either changed/been demolished/no longer exists in the same way.

  • Have you ever gone to a haunted road or landmark at night or searched for the Jersey Devil?

  • Are there any community figures that you think are important to the fabric of your town? What are they like?

  • What do you know about the history of your town?

  • Has anyone famous come from your town? Do you feel connected to this person? Do they make you feel prouder of where you’re from?

  • Have you had any encounters with any famous people while in New Jersey? (I'm obviously thinking a lot about Bruce, because I know so many people with a Bruce story, but anyone is interesting!)

  • Describe any local traditions you take part in (parades, festivals, fireworks, etc.) and look forward to every year.

  • What was/is going to school in New Jersey like for you?

  • As a child or teen, did you have any special places or hangouts? Please describe them.

  • In what ways do you think your sense of humor or the way you speak is influenced by where you’re from/spent the most time?

  • What are some transformative things that have happened to you in NJ and why was the setting important?

  • How did you feel about New Jersey as a child versus as a teenager versus as an adult? How have your feelings about the state changed over time?

  • Do you have any secret spots that you like to go to be alone? What are they (you don’t have to be super specific if you don’t want to be) and why do you go there? What do you do or think about?

  • What are some “firsts” that occurred for you in NJ? What role did the setting play?

  • Do you have any NJ-related art/objects/antiques in your home? What do they mean to you and what do you know about them?