I’m excited to finally introduce readers of my column to a book I’ve worked on for the last year and a half, titled “Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media.”
Masthof press is the publisher. In the book you will learn how this column, Another Way, came to be. Along with many many other things you likely never knew. If you read to the end of this column, you’ll find out how to enter a drawing for a giveaway!
This is my tenth book and this one took a good deal of research, checking facts, digging in my memory, and resurrecting stories from 43 years ago. It took writing, editing, rewriting, proofreading and also choosing photos which help illustrate the story — and I hope, bring this history to life.
Here’s one of the opening stories in this book:
“I spent most of my time while in the chicken house daydreaming about what I would grow up to be, reflecting on my Mennonite faith (which only permitted Sunday work like gathering eggs and feeding animals, no field work), and boys. I also sang to the chickens, and enjoyed watching them cock their heads sideways at me, likely in horror at my sometimes off-tune voice. If I went opera on them or gobbled like a turkey, which I loved doing, they responded with a swelling chorus, cackling back.
“It was in this earthy, smelly place of great contemplation and musical excellence where I first penned out my ambition in life on a scrap of paper. I still have it to this day, hidden in a file.
“On this day, November 18, 1967, Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., I decided what I want to be: a Christian writer.”
“I was 16 years old and by then had my first poem published in WITH magazine, our church magazine for teens — my second snort of the addictive drug called “Byline”.
“In retrospect I felt just a bit of holy awe as I wrote those words down, with no idea — not a clue — of how to get there as a young farm girl. Everyone else and my two older sisters were aiming for more traditional careers for women of the day: nurse and teacher.
“What would people say if I said I wanted to be a writer? I had been a faithful reader of the Mennonite church Sunday school papers and publications over the years put out by the denomination’s publishing house in Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Words of Cheer, Youth’s Christian Companion, Gospel Herald, Christian Living.
“But a writer doesn’t just write for bylines in church publications and ten-dollar checks. Writers want to make sense of things and perhaps offer a hint or a help to others going through dilemmas. Some people need spread sheets, equations, formulas. Writers need sentences and paragraphs.” (Page 5 in the book.)
You may ask, a work memoir? That sounds tedious. Who wants to read the ups and downs of an ordinary woman working in media for the Mennonite church? Here are a few more stories I tell in the book:
• Escorted out of a large city mall for testing magazine ads there — without getting permission.
• A national civic club demanding that Mennonites cease and desist from unlawfully using their name in a TV spot.
• A church editor surreptitiously finding a workaround when Mennonite Media’s print director refused to divulge how much a full-page ad in Newsweek was costing the Mennonite denomination.
Mining years of memories (and files), in the book I aimed to combine personal memoir with the colossally changing media landscape of a Mennonite mission-oriented communications agency from 1975 to almost 2020. Not your thing? That’s fine, but if you’d like to register for a chance at one of three free copies I’m giving away, see the information below!
To enter the giveaway for my new book, send your name and address to me at email@example.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. Deadline for this drawing is Sept. 2, 2022. The book can also be purchased on Amazon or the publisher at Masthof.com