I nearly stopped writing about movies in 2021.
A year without a trip to the theaters or a regular release schedule interrupted the pattern of moviegoing that had been part of my life since I was a teenager. The pandemic threw a wrench into my post-grad school plans, and I found myself consumed by work, anxiety and the pandemic.
I couldn’t bring myself into the headspace to write about movies. For a while, I didn’t know why it mattered anymore. I attempted to start a new writing journey, blogging about Christian culture. But my motivation was quickly sapped, as the toxicity of modern evangelical culture made me wonder whether it had really been a good thing to be so immersed in it. For a bit, I didn’t know that I’d write anything outside of my day job again. There was anxiety and depression coming into play, which surprised me because I didn’t recognize it until more than a year into the pandemic. In the summer, I talked to my doctor about going on a low dose of some anxiety medicine, and that helped me regain some focus.
Slowly but surely, I found the fun of writing about films again. In September, I began thinking more about this newsletter and how much I enjoyed the opportunity it provided to write about what I wanted in a manner that I wanted. I loved the freedom it provided to write about new and old films, without worry about spoilers, word count or any of that. I decided that I’d dial down and make a concentrated effort to write more, using this newsletter — which originally started as a way to highlight my work elsewhere — as my main writing platform. I committed to publishing at least three pieces a week, and I drew up an editorial calendar (currently, I have plans for most of my writing into March).
And it worked. Since the first week of October, I have consistently posted at least three pieces a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sometimes, there’s a weekend piece. Some of it has been done through repurposing old pieces, but I’m surprised how much of this has been original. A year ago, it took me about two weeks to write one piece; but jumping into a more consistent mode has brought some of these atrophied muscles back, and I’m finding real joy in writing again. I’ve loved the opportunity to write about old movies, do a deep dive into horror movies, and go into spoilers on new releases. Film writing has become fun once more, and I end this year tired from a lot of things, but really excited about the future of this newsletter.
That is because of you, dear readers. One of the benefits to doing a newsletter as opposed to a traditional blog is that I can see who’s visiting this site on a daily basis and who’s becoming an active subscriber and reader. I’m not in a position to boast about huge subscriber numbers, but I can say that my readership today has tripled what it was one year ago. And there are many more peaks in readership than there were just 90 days earlier. Through this site, I’ve had some great opportunities become available recently, from guesting on podcasts I deeply respect to being invited to share my writing. None of that would have been possible with you, my readers. And I am deeply touched and thankful that you’re willing to give some of your time to my words.
This has not been an easy year for any of us. It started with national turmoil; it ends with a new pandemic wave that appears like it could be the worst yet. We’re frustrated and tired. And in moments like this, I think the movies matter more than ever. They’re a diversion from our frustrations. They allow us to express ourselves and explore our humanity. As Roger Ebert said, they help create empathy. Art is essential in these times, and movies have their own unique power. I’m honored and deeply grateful to be able to write about them.
There will be time to look forward and discuss the future of this newsletter in the coming weeks, and I’m eager to write more about that. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I said “thank you” for your readership, your commentary and your engagement. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Have a merry Christmas and enjoy this holiday season with your friends and family.