For the past few years on the post calvin, we’ve done a celebratory review of the best stuff writers have produced. Each year, we’ve chosen the posts differently. If you’re in the mood for some nostalgia, check out the past three years in review: Best of 2015, Best of 2016, Best of 2017.

This year, we decided to let the writers speak for themselves. Everyone has chosen their favorite 2018 post of their own devising and will tell you a bit about why they like it. We’ve split it up among these last three days of the month, so check the past two posts (part one, part two) if you don’t see your favorite writer here.

Gabe Gunnink | Wyoming

This past January I made one of the biggest changes of my life: I moved across the country from Grand Rapids to Seattle. This meant forty hours of driving through plains and tundra, left to steep in my own thoughts—nervousness, excitement, worry, curiosity. By the time I finished the drive, I was heavy with thoughts, and I felt something rare: a primal necessity to punch my feelings out onto a page. This is something that I imagine “real” authors feel frequently. For me, though, this sensation is a rarity and always a supreme satisfaction when it does come along.

Emily Joy Stroble | This Old House

This piece is a summing up. It uses interesting details from an unusual summer job as a historical interpreter to make a larger point about communication in general—that it is so much more profitable for others and so much more fulfilling for one’s self to use moments where we teach and communicate, not to flaunt our own knowledge but to delight in the beauty of something together with another person. Sprinkled with a little humor and peculiar tidbits, this piece is honest and unique.

Sadie Burgher | Encounters of the Patron Kind: Three Memories from Work at a Public Library

This piece was my audition for the post calvin and I chose to write it in an attempt to drag myself out of a two-year period of crippling writing anxiety. I still have plenty of anxiety around writing, but this piece helped restore a bit of confidence in my abilities. I spent just over a year in the library job where these memories were created; I started two days after graduating from Calvin and submitted this post just over a year later, two weeks after leaving the position. Putting these memories into words took me a couple of weeks—I took notes on dozens of stories from the year and ultimately chose the three I found to be unforgettable: one terrifying, one enraging, and one heartwarming.

Julia LaPlaca | The Glorious Summer the Ceiling Fell In: A Plan for a Poem

Unlike some of my posts, this one spilled out of my brain at two in morning effortlessly. And it was FUN to write. A nice writing happenstance when it occurs. I ended up articulating some things that I had been thinking about all summer and it felt just right to get them out in the open before plunging into what ended up being an eventful and intense fall semester. I realize, in retrospect, this post set a mental stage of gratitude and optimism that I needed to remember.

Jeffrey Peterson | Ja jsem cizinec a nerozumim moc cesky

This was the first piece I wrote for tpc, before I had even been asked to join the circle, and it felt very authentic to who I was when I wrote it. I also think it happens to be the best-structured, best-crafted in prose, and funniest of my pieces. My hesitation with this piece is that I wrote it on a hyper-personal sadboi impulse, and I’ve learned in the eleven months since that not every piece needs to be a diary of my swirling angsts. I did hear that this one was generally interesting and relatable, but I think it’ll take a handful more writings to bottle that impulse in a productive way.

Katie Van Zanen | Heaven, Like MarioKart

This piece represented a deeper question for me. My other pieces this year were responsive—to themes, to moments in my life—but this one came from a resurfaced memory and an unresolved concern with literal eternity. Gabe Gunnink commented that my writing is different now than when I was last with the post calvin—I’m more interested in exploration than questions. That’s a change I’m proud of.

Nick Meekhof | I Wish I Had Said Something

Writing this post was a great way for me to digest a very disturbing comment I’d heard at work and think about where I stand on a controversial topic. Although I essentially dropped the ball in the moment, writing helped raise my guard for future situations. It didn’t take long, unfortunately. A week after that all went down, that same guy was ranting about Asian food to a trucker and myself, using extremely vulgar, racist language. I denounced his position as politely as I could while still maintaining professionalism, which was awkward, and I immediately lost his respect. But the trucker pulled me aside later to thank me for calling him out. Looking back, I’m glad I’m on the right side of the story now.

Brad Zwiers | Mining the Abyss

Well, I came close to dissolving a few times in the last year. One of those times was in May after Scott Hutchison took his life. I never met the man, but his music meant a lot to me and helped me work through many mentally fragile moments. Writing the post was cathartic and allowed me to name things in myself that brought some peace.

Matt Coldagelli | Terrible, Wonderful Love

This piece required no second-guessing, sweaty palms, or temple-tapping like some of my other pieces. The night described in this piece is seared into my memory, and it was an honor to hear how our family’s story touched so many of the post calvin‘s readers. After writing the post, many people offered kind words and encouragement about my budding identity as a father. I’m still not immune from the nagging inner critic, who becomes especially harsh when I write about my wife and daughter. As I continue growing as a writer, I have tried to elude the critic’s babbling.

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