One of the great joys of editing Wineskins is getting to research foundational work on a particular theme and also read contemporary "takes" on that theme by sometimes up to 50-60 different author submissions. From those submissions, with the help of our editing staff, I peel off layers of the theme and communicate with writers, informing them whether we can use or cannot use their article.
From there, we vigorously edit the articles. In the current stack I've asked for a completely different lead on one article. A review was completely reworked by the author and me. Yet another article was left alone--it was good, written by an English teacher. Even so, she and most writers are willing to allow shaping to their article. And we shape . . .
Many articles are turned upside down and inside out. I want to give you an example of what I enjoy most in working with writers. In many articles submitted, I can see a glimmer of a story that is trying to come out. One of the most common "mistakes" I see in submissions is that the real story doesn't get told. It's not that what is submitted is not a good sermon or good spiritual or biblical point, but submissions often miss the mark on how telling a personal story.
So here's what I'll often do. I ask a writer to tell me more about a particular sub-theme in the piece. That's when I see that glimmer of hope of a deeper story. In several cases, this has totally changed the piece, driven a writer deeper, to the heart of the matter, changed it into more of a story form, more biographical. It matches more of what Wineskins has come to be for readers: a forum for telling our stories of life on the journey with Christ. Stories that are messy and uncertain yet they are authentic, full of hope and restoration and revival and redemption and irony and vitality and when we least expect it God's mercy and grace and forgiveness and love and joy breaks out in the deep middle of our pain, heartache, suffering, anxiety, and grief.
That's why we have whole issues on themes such as "Desperate" and "A Great Grief." And this is at the heart of what drives us to the issue on Unity that we're working on now that pushes the edges, calls us to tell our stories with authenticity and honesty. After all, that's what makes a good sermon, book, article, movie: honest telling of what life is yet also what it ought to be.