I started as editor of Timbrel in January 2013. And while much of the day-to-day tasks include maintaining and updating our new website and writing and loading the content on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube social media channels…the bulk of my work is centered around the publication of Mennonite Women USA: Timbrel.
So…what does being an editor really look like? Well, after a year of working on Timbrel I’ve come up with a little Top 10 List of what Timbrel 2013 has looked like for me. These come in no particular order of most important to least or more fun to un-fun.
Timbrel got a redesign in 2013. This was no small task…it has gotten an overhaul a few times since it’s inception. One of the most common questions during the redesign phase was: Will you capitalize the “t” in Timbrel? Yes and yes! We returned the importance of that capital “T” to the magazine title. I worked with an excellent designer from upstate New York and she really challenged me to embrace white space and not fear it. So, fearlessly there is much more white space which allows eyes to breathe, gives thoughts time to stretch and makes way for focusing on the content, not the design. What do you think of the new look? Above (and below), on the far left, you’ll see the last iteration of the design and then the redesigned covers.
The first issue that had the new design was a tricky one for me since the theme and nearly all the writers had been organized and planned by the previous editor so I didn’t claim as much ownership over that issue. It debuted the new look and feel and while I still love that cover image, it was the summer 2013 issue that was the powerful black and white image that sealed this approach for the issues to come. The approach being: a powerful cover image in black and white. I received the most positive feedback on this summer 2013 image because readers paid attention to it and were not distracted by color. Goodbye color photos on the cover and hello power! Do you like the simple, black and white cover images?
Writers. Wow. You writers are amazing! Every issue I put together requires me to reach out to women in the Mennonite Church asking for their contribution to the conversation at hand. So many times writers thank me for asking them to write when the truth is I am floored by the generosity of these writers. RaeAnne made me reframe the way I think about women, Linda opened my eyes to the beauty of working with her hands, Stina reminded me to pay attention to all the good parts about staying home with small children. There are stories to share, wisdom to impart, truths to let loose and Mennonite women, frankly, do these things so well. Who should I tap to write for Timbrel?
I love deadlines. I do. As a project manager planning a year of social posts, for instance, was one of my favorite tasks because I love having a vision for the way projects, magazines, campaigns and workflows dance and move through a year. I nerd out on deadlines, it is true.
I have “email days” each week where I only send emails. Send. Send. Send. I set my email messenger to make a rocket blast-off sound every time I send an email because it is so gratifying to get thoughts and work “blasted” as it were. From A Postcard & A Prayer that Berni manages each month and I contribute to and all the social media platforms upon which MW USA posts and engages with you, communication is vital to the life and energy of this organization. How can I do this better to serve you more?
After each issue is off to the printer, finished, proofed, final final final I sit down and write notes of gratitude to each writer. I do not email these notes. This is part of the balance that I talk about in the latest winter 2014 issue: I am committed to striking a balance between time at my laptop and time away from it in regards to work for MW USA. Plus I don’t feel comfortable saying I’m a writer if I don’t actually write with a pen and paper.
We switched printers in 2013 which is always a big step for any publication because even though there may be benefits to switching there is always the concern that the new printer won’t get it, won’t remember the nuances, won’t be “on the same page” as are you. But as it turns out, our new printer has made producing Timbrel a more enjoyable process (who knew?). Look for an extended issue for our spring 2014 with more pages, and more content…woo-hoo! What kinds of content would you like to see in Timbrel?
I nearly never prayed for the people or the projects I worked on in my previous job as a project manager and writer for a marketing firm. I reserved my prayers for other things. But in this job as editor and content manager I am keenly aware of these women I interact with (albeit virtually) and the honesty they bring to their articles. The talent, the heartbreak, the fear, the joy, the careful, the wonderful: I am bringing them to my prayer life and it is different for me to do that. And awesome.
Timbrel surprises me. It is this physically small magazine and yet so many young adults, retirees, moms, CEOs, gardeners, young marrieds, doctors, students, high schoolers, therapists and so many more different kinds of women are picking it up, subscribing to it, talking about it, sharing it, wondering after it, wanting to write for it, paying attention to it and on and on and on. There are so few surprises in life, I’m glad Timbrel is one for me. What has surprised you about Timbrel?
This is fun work. I love the tangible product–to see the fruits of my work go from my computer screen to my hands. It is fun because I get to work with really cool staff members who are kind, honest, forthright, smart, funny and amazing. It is fun to work in my Closet Office (have I told you about this? I’ll write a blog post about it sometime and send a picture…the short story is I converted a tiny hall closet to my office and I ADORE this tiny space mostly because it is too small to get cluttered [!]). It is fun to video conference with whip-smart women from across the US. It is fun to plan and think and pray and print and write and edit. It is fun to do work that puts women in conversation together with God.