Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Column at Patheos.com, and Other News

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on UnsplashJuggling writing adventures has left me with quite a few loose ends these last few months–including blog updates here!–but there is, happily, some forward momentum.

As of last week, I launched at Patheos.com, under the column name, Another White Atheist in Colombia. I will be posting there twice-weekly, at minimum, and if you like what you read there, I would humbly ask you to consider forwarding links to specific articles, or signing up for regular email updates, or “liking” and following my associated Facebook page. Or, hey! Even better! Joining the conversation!

Now, some folks will see the word “atheist” in the column name, and think my focus is the usual, stand-up-comedy shtick of “So what about those believers, eh?” I have already received some bizarre emails from people close to me who want me to tear down or make fun of X belief with my column. Uh, no. (Way to show how little you know me!)

I am an atheist, sure, and a secular humanist–and this latter label matters more. As such, my focus with this project is secular storytelling. I especially want to see contemporary humanist practice focus on what is shared between persons across the belief/non-belief spectrum, rather than pointing and laughing at difference. I think we have a great deal of unpacking to do of our secular myths in order to improve the world, and I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to those changes with essays and fictions alike.

On the fiction front, too, there is progress. I am finally satisfied with the more integrated and increasingly bilingual voice of my stories, and… I simply need to convince editors of the same! It has been two years now since my last short-story acceptance, but I have grown so much in that time frame, and I look forward to finding just the right venue for some of the stories I have finally been able to write from my new home of Medellín.

(When in doubt, though, I remind myself of all the great writers who never saw their works succeed in their lifetimes. The fact that I have seen any success is a privilege.)

I also look forward to getting back to the Failed Story Project, and I have two more essays about Colombia that I would like to post by the year’s end. I am also struggling to finish the novel, which… has been surprisingly challenging despite how close I am to the end of that first draft. (Certainly, the onboarding process to my new position with Patheos.com has taken up quite a bit of mental energy!) I look forward to being able to dedicate a few more days entirely to that book project, and expect that it will be out in the hands of my first potential literary agents by the end of December.

I’ve also had a touch of success with non-fiction writing, especially with reviews for Strange Horizons, but I’m lagging in freelance pitching. I suspect the problem has a great deal to do with how new the activity is, which leads me to envision that every step will take ever so long to complete. As I gain confidence and learn to handle rejection in a whole new realm, I am sure I can reach a point where 2-3 pitches are sent out weekly. I certainly want to be writing more about Colombia for North American audiences, so at some point I simply need to get over my hang-ups and start letting the pitches fly.

…And granted, too, even as I write all of this down, I recognize that I am trying to do too much. However, I do think this gig at Patheos.com will offer just the framework I need to start making real headway in the fields that matter most. I am a strong believer in the idea that “the work expands to meet the time allotted”–so by having more stringent obligations between the Patheos column and my paid work, I have every confidence that I will gain greater efficiency with what little time for writing and pitching lies between.

How about you fine folks? Where do your creative projects find you? Are you bewildered by their breadth? Their varying degrees of accomplishment? Do you have urgent new literary dreams filling your every spare hour? Are any failures weighing on your hearts?

Wherever you are, whatever setbacks the year has contained for you, I hope you’re able to see the road ahead for what it is: an opportunity, each and every day, to regain focus, purpose, and maybe even a little success in the work that we love most.

Go get ’em, tigers!

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Update and New Writing Outlet!

Tomorrow I will post a long-overdue essay about “routine”, and the sneaky way it creeps up on a body even when still adapting to a new context.

Today, though, I started posting on Patheos.com, as a part of the group blog The Secular Spectrum. I will be posting twice-weekly there, and if I am successful at building an audience, I will get a blog of my own for the site. I am delighted by the opportunity to blend my observations on religion, secularism, Canadian culture, Colombian culture, and world politics in general on that forum. Not only is this a good step towards a different sort of writing success, but it is also a relief to find a more public forum for many of my currently restricted thoughts about the transition to life here.

My first post, A Humanist in Colombia: Lessons for a Hurting World, offers background info for tomorrow’s Colombian presidential election, and outlines a general concern about polarizing politics (in faith and nation-state discourse alike) that should compel us to learn more from the world outside North America. On Wednesday, I will post about something a little closer to North America, but it will still be interweaving global politics with humanist and religious practice.

If you find it worth your while to read my posts on Patheos.com, please consider sharing them with your friends. As with so much online, my ability to succeed as a writer here will be contigent on the “hustle”. To that end, thank you for reading even this far!

Warmest wishes–and a proper, full essay tomorrow!