As a freelance writer I have always wanted to share my gift of writing with the world by means of evangelization. God has called each and every one of us to use our talents to help build up the Body of Christ and share the love of Christ through the message of the Gospels.
The deeper I delve into the writing world the more I have observed the toxic culture that exists not only among some writers, but also some of the editors. I did not expect to encounter such an atmosphere, especially with regards to fellow Catholic writers and Catholic editors. It caught me by surprise although I know it should not have since even Catholics suffer from the consequences of Original Sin and have a fallen human nature.
The culture can be so toxic that some Catholic writers who have a beautiful God-given talent are distancing themselves from the writing world all together. They have had it with other writers making irrelevant and often nasty demeaning comments on their pieces and being pushed around and treated unjustly by some editors.
I have had various negative experiences in the world of writing with both writers and editors. I have encountered writers who feel a topic they addressed belongs solely to them and that they have a monopoly on the subject, that which no one else can dare to touch upon in relation to their own experience.
Why are we competing with one another instead of motivating and celebrating our pieces being published that which helps to spread the Good News and bring attention to significant and much needed discussion on certain topics amongst Catholics? Time and time again I have read similar topics written by various writers and I always enjoy seeing how the different take and writing style of the author flows through the words on the page.
Recently, a friend and fellow writer wrote a beautiful piece on thanking the priests in her life. The article is called “Thank You Father,”and is written by Alycia Hartley. I have written on the topic in the past in a similar way, but this piece was her specific take on the subject, and I was not overcome with envy when she published it.
Why should I be green with envy? She made it her own, and her article deeply touched me. I am thankful that someone else has written again on such an important topic. We should thank the good priests in our lives, and why shouldn’t more writers have articles published on such a subject?
I have too often had bizarre and cruel experiences with editors to not believe that Satan has become embedded within the writing world. There have been times when editors accepted my work after having me edit my piece, which took time to do, and then without warning drop it without a proper explanation or simply never publish it, and fail to even contact me.
I value my time as a writer, and a part of being a writer is having one’s work rejected at times. I would much rather have an article rejected at the beginning then put my time and effort into edits only to have the editor decide that after all is said and done they no longer want to publish the piece, which I am told in a snide e-mail, or they simply never mention it at all. I am sick and tired as a writer enduring abuse by editors, and being treated with a lack of dignity and respect. There are a few publications that I will never submit my work again due to a snarky and disrespectful editor.
I have had an experience with an editor rejecting my piece, but then wanting me to help one of their publication’s writers by providing her with the resources necessary to write an article on a similar topic. Another words, the editor wanted my topic, but did not want me to write it. Then the individual tried to gaslight me to feel guilty about not sharing the information I had for the article with their columnist.
Anyone can write on the topic I had suggested, I do not own a topic, but it was one that was close to my heart, and if a piece was written from that publication I felt that I should be the one to write it. How could someone else write about my personal experience in the convent? I could also never simply hand over the names of young women who have had similar experiences in the convent because it is their stories to tell and their permission would need to be granted to write such a piece.
I have since written on the topic, and look forward to releasing it with Missio Dei. I am honored to write for such a publication, and I am grateful to our editor, Phillip Haden, along with all of our writers on the Missio Dei team because we all support one another. There is no ruthless competition among writers because we all celebrate one another’s works, and have the same goal of evangelization.
I have had yet another experience where an editor completely rewrote my piece, and published it under my name. I never received an edited copy. I saw my article published one day and quickly realized that the words upon the page were not mine. Thankfully the issue was quickly rectified, but I still had the overarching question of “Why does this keep happening?”
I have come to find that more often I am treated with much more respect as a writer from editors of smaller Catholic publications. It seems to have become more about fame, fortune, and power than about spreading the Gospel message and inspiring readers for editors of big name and popular publications.
I am content as a writer offering my skills to those smaller publications. I do not write to get paid or to become famous. I write because I enjoy writing and love Christ. I want to share that love with others by using my God-given talent.
I am perfectly content in being a part of the small corner of the Catholic writing world, and I will continue to write for Christ without fear or hesitation. I am not afraid to speak the truth because I have the Holy Spirit burning bright within me, and He is a fire that cannot be tamed Who continues to guide and protect me every step of the way.
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The Holy Spirit must speak through the baptized! It’s the business of every Catholic.
I expect this wherever there’s more supply than demand. Not that it justifies it. This is where I’ve found the notion that only thing that’s up to me is my deliberate choice, which should have Christ as the focus, to be helpful. The people doing what you describe have their success as their aim, not letting go and trusting God to the outcome.