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Reviewing 2020, Starting 2021

January 4th, 2021 | 5 min read

By Jake Meador

Inspired by Chris’s post over at his blog, I’m trying something similar here.

A Review of 2021

My main goals going into this year were the following:

  • Complete the manuscript of my second book, forthcoming from IVP.
  • Fundraise for Mere Orthodoxy, such that I would hopefully be FT by year’s end.
  • Write for 2-3 new publications on a freelance basis while continuing to do most of my work at Mere O.
  • Improve my reading habits, such that I make it through more books this year than in year’s past. (Briefly, the combo of Mere O’s growth the past few years, such that Mere O has come to be, in terms of work load, a FT gig for me while also having a growing family and another FT job has been awful for my reading.)

How’d I do?

I didn’t complete the manuscript. My new goal is to have it complete by February. I’m feeling hopeful about that, but books are hard, y’all.

In terms of fundraising, we did successfully raise $37,000 via Kickstarter and I’ve had some limited success with private fundraising, but due to COVID I have had to stay home and that has limited what I can do in terms of fundraising, which means I’m not yet able to go FT with Mere O.

I wrote for Breaking Ground, but that was my only new publication this year, which was a disappointment as I had several opportunities fall through with other outlets.

In terms of reading, I completed 41 books in 2019 and only made it through 22 in 2020, which is my worst reading year in a very long time. A complicating factor here is that I basically didn’t read fiction or light current events this year, save a couple exceptions, and so my page count is probably not as far off ’19’s numbers as you might expect and I feel good about some of the books I made it through this year. I read books from Ellen Davis, Niels Hemmingsen, Eric Gregory, and Oliver O’Donovan this year, all of which are somewhat heftier volumes. So I feel good about that.

Even so, my reading this year is the one I’m most disappointed about, honestly, and probably it also is accountable for my slower pace with this book, if I had to guess.

Looking ahead to 2021, these are my goals:

  • I need to finish the book and hand that off to my editor at IVP.
  • I need to continue fundraising, though I’m holding on setting any more fixed goals until I know when it will begin to be more reasonable to travel again and fundraise that way—the largest plausible fundraising bases for Mere O are in Chicago, Nashville, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, New York, and DC and I’ve not been able to make it to any of those places yet. I expect that a lot of our success in the financial area is going to be contingent on my ability to travel more. (Also, if you have contacts in those areas or know people in those areas that you think would want to support a Christian ideas magazine that aspires to no more than saying true things for our readers, I’d love to meet them.)
  • I’m going to keep my ’21 reading goal what it was in ’20: Improve on what I did in ’19. I’d love to make it through 50 books this year. We’ll see. If the book manuscript is not hanging over my head and life begins to return back to normal, I think I can get there.
  • Specifically, these are the books I want to either finish in ’21 (after starting them this year) or read in their entirety next year:

Those are all what you might call professional development books. There are also a few other books I’m hoping to read that are more bucket list items, most notably Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West and Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion.

I also used some holiday book money I was given to buy a number of works from the early church, which is still a rather enormous gap in my theological reading. So I’m hoping to spend a bit of time with the church fathers this year, especially Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus.

Any other goals beyond the above feel much too ambitious to me. That said, if I could get into a few new publications this year, I would be quite pleased. But at the present it feels like my primary work goals need to be finishing the book, fundraising for Mere O, and improving my book reading habits.

Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).