Just "Meat Sacks with Feelings..."
Life@GWN with Emily Mendelson
Meet GWN staffer Emily Mendelson, a prolific writer, experienced nonprofit program manager, and hopeful romantic. It's a gift to work with interesting and innovative humans. Fall into her story, in her words…
As Publishing 360’s Community Manager, my professional Life@GWN is planning project-based programming and workshops taking writing skills developed in Writing 360 and Writing Works and applying them to special publishing projects. This year’s projects include a book celebrating Girls Write Now’s 25th Anniversary and an original mentee-authored digital zine. My success is measured in giving mentees opportunities to share their voices, tell their stories, and express their feelings without first needing to impress a largely white, male, privileged publishing industry. Publishing 360 gives them a space to shine.
Well. I’m a millennial, so I rarely take it, opting to check Slack and email when not working; it’s not the best for my mental health, neither is it something anyone expects. HOWEVER, I am a work in progress, unlearning the lies that tie our value to being good worker bees who forego our mental health for our jobs. I believe wholeheartedly in our intrinsic value as people. Each of us decides what holds meaning in our lives. I find my work at Girls Write Now deeply meaningful. When I choose to work after hours, it’s usually because it’s my choice. I also find value in time with my fiance, family, friends, and, especially, in time with myself. Work may be an important part of what I do, but it is not who I am. (And I promise to take all my PTO days this year!)
Within my circle, I am the mediator of almost any group discussion. I keep things calm, helping people to understand one another's perspectives, coaxing people through tough conversations with grace and kindness. In writing groups, I try to understand what might have prompted a writing choice so that we can work together to convey what needs conveying. I love the feeling of getting through a conversation where everyone feels seen, heard, and known.
Death, Sex, & Religion
Before reading this, most colleagues won’t know that my three favorite writing topics are death, sex, and religion. I love complicated topics rich in nuance and intrigue and I’m obsessed with asking questions about why we’re here, how we create meaning, and what we owe each other. Anyone engaging me in small talk experiences how quickly the conversation can find its way into a contemplation of the true meaning of life—which likely involves me shrugging and saying we’re all just “meat sacks with feelings” (clearly I’m super fun at parties). I don’t hide this from colleagues, but would never want to make anyone uncomfortable. There’s a time and place for conversations about big, tough topics, it’s known as Happy Hour!
I am super proud of the fact that I finished writing a whole novel, begun in my senior year of college. Over the last ten years, I learned so much about myself, through three drafts, drawing ever closer to the story I knew I could tell. The writer’s journey, conceiving, editing, querying, sending it to agents, weathering rejections, is not for everyone. I view it as my own sisyphean task —not waiting for relief, finding joy in the endless process. I am proud of myself for writing it, and for trusting myself enough to love it with my whole heart.
I am also super proud of my little sister, Faith, born when I was thirteen. Every time she looked up at me, from the first time with her big, blue eyes - I knew unconditional love. At twenty, Faith is an incredible woman, who changed me in ways I didn’t know my life needed change. She let me know I could feel the love that is always close to the surface for me. I’ll never stop thanking her for that.
I adore our adopted one-year old maltipoo Scout, the most anxious creature ever known. She’s a very smart rescue from Texas, picks up tricks super quickly, very snuggly, but also gets very spooked at the slightest noise.It’s an absolute joy to have her in our lives; we are thrilled to be able to parent our baby girl together!
Snow may be among the single most romantic things that has ever happened to me. On November 11, 2023, I will marry the kindest person I’ve ever known. When I think of my most romantic moments - he’s at their center.
Eschewing sweeping grand gestures, I prefer romance in the small, quiet things;
amid newly fallen snow when he told me he loved me for the first time,
his smiling at me after moving in together, still living out of boxes with half-painted walls and he smiled at me and said, “It’s really lovely coming home to you,”
and his comment upon finishing a draft of my novel…he just kept saying how amazing it was that I’d really made it all up.
Of course, I think of the moment on December 11, 2022, when he asked me if I would marry him, huddled together in a cozy Airbnb, as the snow returned to wish us well.
Commence Wedding Planning...
If you belong to the Girls Write Now community and have a story to share, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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