For some months, now, I have been writing an essay about the movie Inside Out and my daughter's obsession with it. I don't know how many hours I have now spent on the essay, but the process of writing it has been a long reminder of just how hard it is to write a good essay; I took a break from writing them for several years and forgot just how much they demand, how much time they take and how much self-doubt one has to wade through in order to make them really work. The goal is to make the essay come across as effortless, so that every every succeeding word appears inevitable, but a good, literary essay requires more effort than anything else I've done, certainly more than anything else I've written. I'd like to write an essay about why they're such hard things to write, but then I suspect someone has probably written it already.
Maybe it was E.B. White. Maybe the essay is "The Ring of Time."