What is an essay?
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       This might sound like a silly and broad question but I wanted to throw it out there.  I have been reading some discussions about essays and their different types.  I am new to writing essays.  I have always written for myself and for my work which is comedy.  There is a huge difference between writing a joke that has a context based on a live performance and a piece of writing that stands on it's own in black and white.  I am attracted to writing that has been referred to as "essay."  I also tend to write from a personal, self-reflective, anecdotal point of view.  Can anyone talk about what are some basic requirements or ingredients that make up an essay?  Is there a word count requirement?  I would love to hear people's opinions, advice and experience on this topic.  Thanks in advance for your time!