2017 has been a landmark year for me as a writer, in some ways obvious and others not at all. I’ve written for more publications than ever before, and while that’s been a satisfying accomplishment to be sure, there have been two other developments in my writing life that mean immeasurably more to me as both a person and a writer.
The first is that I learned to appreciate editorial feedback. The first time I received substantive edits on my work, I started sweating, slammed my computer shut, and considered never writing again. 24 hours later, I relooked at the feedback and slowly began to realize that if someone cared enough to critique my work, that meant they saw something in it that was worth saying.
Good editors aren’t destroying what I’ve created, they’re helping me mine it for treasure. My affection for editorial input has risen to an almost comical point now. I crave feedback, which leads to the second development.
I used to think of writing as inherently lonely, or at least as a task primarily undertaken alone. But due to friendships with fellow writers, editors, and readers, I now think of writing as one of the most profoundly communal dimensions of my life. A few pieces I wrote this year were conceptualized by other people, including my favorite piece of 2017, and there’s been nary a piece I’ve sent to an editor without asking at least two other people to read it and offer feedback first.
I’ve formed friendships over the past year that have offered me safety, challenge, comfort, and encouragement both as a person and a writer. While I have every intention of continuing to pursue new writing and publishing opportunities, there is no byline or book deal in the world that could offer me the joy those friendships born of vulnerability in both writing and relationship have offered to me.
These are my favorite nine pieces I wrote this year.
When Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, and Derek Webb seemed to reappear at once in my Twitter feed, I contemplated the allure of Christian celebrity and the precarious nature of Provocative Platforms. [Fathom Mag]
Upon the conclusion of the Gilmore Guys podcast, I penned a tribute to the way they offered Hope in my Earbuds. It is, in one sense, a piece about a niche bit of pop culture, but in a much greater sense, it’s about hospitality and family. [Christ and Pop Culture]
Life often seems to pay no mind to how hot the water is getting, how greatly the pressure is bearing down. I wrote about this broken world’s way of Extracting the Essence in an essay to my husband. [Mothers Always Write]
Through the lens of the poem Good Bones by Maggie Smith, I explored the idea of Parenting as Narrating, and what it means to tell the story of life to our children. [Fathom Mag]
My marriage is the result of two teenagers choosing one another when we barely knew what that meant, when we were novices at the practice of Shedding Summer Skin together. I pondered our story, the power of music and memory, and the band Death Cab for Cutie in a reflective essay. [Christ and Pop Culture]
After writing only prose since my days of angsty high school poetry, I tried my hand at a poem about motherhood called I Smile at the Bruises. [Fathom Mag]
A Thursday night of Shondaland viewing led to a conversation with several friends, and ultimately an article, about a question I find myself asking often: Are Women Really Welcome in the World? [Christ and Pop Culture]
It’s of deepest importance to me that my practice of writing be deeply intertwined with tangibly doing justice and loving mercy in my day to day life. That intertwine found its way into a piece on How to Be Faithful and Focused in the Face of the World’s Pain. [iBelieve]
I asked what it is about Louisa May Alcott’s March sisters that keeps us coming back to them, and how the church might embody a similarly compelling posture, in Little Women and the Imaginative Power of Family Identity. [Christ and Pop Culture]
I’ll think back on 2017 with deep fondness as a writer for decades. It was the year I turned over a new leaf in writing toward my voice, became a podcast co-host, wrote a study guide for a book, and traded in tightly clenched fears for hands more free to love in word and deed. It was a year of continuing to be pressed thin, of undoing and redoing, of preparing me for the mantra I’ve chosen for 2018: “an ear to the ground–and wait” (Charles Bruce).
Toward greater love, deeper listening, and what I pray will be beneficial writing, I go.