Editor’s Notebook: Happy Anniversary, Sinners!
Cheryl, Suzanne, and I first came together as a team in 2012, when we co-created the essay series “7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life” at Hunger Mountain, the literary journal published by the low-residency MFA program we all attended at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cheryl and Suzanne wanted to explore the ways in which we writers are beset by SIN as we make a writing life. What writer doesn’t struggle with Envy and Sloth? In the context of the writing life, what is Lust, Gluttony, Wrath, Greed? Does Pride inevitably lead to shallow work? I was an editor at Hunger Mountain, looking for creative nonfiction about the writing life, so they pitched their idea for the series, and we got to work. Long, detailed work. Work enriched by email threads that digressed into countless personal anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of our individual writing lives. We responded to each other’s personal stories with empathy, shared our own parallel or contrasting experiences, and offered advice. All the while hammering out thoughtful, creative essays about how to play with the notion of writing-life sin as a way to develop better, more fulfilling writing habits.
At the end of that intense collaboration, we were a bonded writing community of three. That earned faith in each other has sustained our writing lives ever since, and gave birth to this magazine in 2020.
To celebrate our 10th anniversary of that life-changing project, we’re re-publishing the essays in the final 7 months of our third season of Waterwheel Review, each on the first day of the month to coincide with a new issue, from November 2022, through May 2023. I’ll tease them here each month, and you’ll find the essays at our new site, 7sinswriting.com.
Today we’re publishing the introductory essay to the series, and the first SINFUL essay, “Envy.”
Here’s my favorite part from the introduction:
Traditionally, stories about the deadly sins were meant to teach sinners how to travel through a long trial and back to virtue after a fall from grace. So too does a fall from grace exist in the writing life. The difference I see, is that the path back is not one toward virtue, but toward the work of writing.
And here’s my favorite part of “Envy”:
Despite its potential for damage, Envy carries a perk. The sunny side of Envy is that it shines on what we most want, which can be a valuable time-and-sanity-saving device in a writing world so bloated with opportunity to submit, subscribe, post, apply, and enroll. Most of the time I click “like” on Facebook, there’s nothing more to it than that. I like it. But if Envy bites while I click, I want it.
If you’re reading this post, you’re almost certainly a writer. If you’ve ever felt an envious pang at a writer friend’s accomplishment… you’re like every single writer who has ever existed. Likewise every other selfish, sinful impulse that falls under the 7 Deadly umbrella of dark thoughts and deeds. Welcome.
May you indulge and enjoy all writing sins forevermore. And may you write well today.