I'd like to request a new section that would contain essays written by forum participants. The essays could either be written especially for this "Essays" forum section or they could be placed there by anyone who wants to excerpt a post from any forum section, whether by the author or by someone who thinks a particular post deserves further refinement and somewhat more permanence in essay form.
Readers of the "Essays" section would be invited to P.M. the original author with suggestions for refinement of particular essays. The author would then be able to make any changes s/he chose to make on the piece.
I would suggest a word-count limit of perhaps what a standard Op-Ed piece has. If any essay goes beyond that length, it would need to be broken up into sections, such as "Part 1," "Part 2," etc. This enforced brevity would make it easier for someone to refer another forum participant to a particular essay or a paragraph of a particular essay.
Creating an "Essays" section such as what I'm describing would accomplish at least a couple of terrific things. First, forum writers would be able to refer to already-refined writings (written either by themselves or by other forum writers) rather than needing to restate some of their favorite arguments. I think discussions would be more free-flowing as a result.
Secondly, forum writers could, by excerpting various posts into the "Essays" section, draw attention to pieces that might be strong enough to be submitted for publication in newspapers, magazines and relevant websites that invite and make use of such writings. The "Essays" section, in this sense, might end up having a positive political impact.
Just in the past few hours, I spotted two posts that I would excerpt if an "Essays" section were in place, but I know of many more written over the past couple of years that would fit, as well. Here are links to the two that struck me this morning as being highly worthwhile, deserving of some sort of permanence:
"End of Faith" section, by CanZen, 2-11-07, 9:17 a.m.
"Christianity" section, by Rami, 2-11-07, 2:30 a.m.
One more thought: Essays being considered as potentially publishable in other media (newspapers, etc., as described above) could perhaps be accompanied by a poll asking readers to rate publishability potential as perceived by the readers. Such a poll might have the effect of encouraging otherwise busy people to take the time to polish and submit their writings for the benefit of wider audiences. I have read many truly remarkable pieces on this forum, and would love to see some of them distributed further.
Anyone agree with me?
Many thanks -h