d r a f t (altho’ a better word might be ‘work in progress’ as I keep adding resources)
A writer whom I want to study (for reasons that will become obvious as you look at her bio and the blurbs from a Jesuit YouTube channel linked below) …
She’s Kaya Oakes, and she teaches creative nonfiction at the University of California Berkeley. Her website at
has a bio that sets out her credentials better than I can:
Kaya Oakes is the author of five books, most recently including The Nones Are Alright (Orbis Books, 2015) and Radical Reinvention (Counterpoint Press, 2012). The Defiant Middle: How Women Claim Life’s In Betweens to Remake the World, was published by Broadleaf Books in 2021. Her sixth book, on the limits of forgiveness, is forthcoming in 2024.
Kaya’s essays and journalism have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Sojourners, National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, Religion Dispatches, Tricycle, On Being, America, and many other publications. She also writes a quarterly column for The Revealer on forgiveness. She was the co-founder of the arts and culture magazine Kitchen Sink, and is currently on the editorial board of the website Killing the Buddha. Kaya received Religion News Association’s award for best commentary in 2021.
I would only add that her first book (not counting a slim volume of poetry), Slanted and Enchanted, was about the indie-rock scene; she started out in the world of secular journalism, and she brings the discipline and craft of a professional to her religious writing.
Especially helpful (I think): A webinar on the Society of Jesus YouTube channel: Writing Faith for a Broad Audience with Kaya Oakes. Blurbs from the YouTube videos:
- 1 of 2 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVuq5ZwxV3U&t=2753s — Part One: Getting Your Work Out There. The contemporary news cycle seems overwhelming, but the role of people who can talk about religion and faith to a broad audience has never been more important. We will discuss ways to approach editors, linking your expertise to issues in the news, and what the process of working with editors to develop a personal essay, opinion/editorial, or investigative journalism is really like.
- 2 of 2 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO_BAXxOBrk&t=59s — Part Two: Crafting and Revising. Once a pitch is accepted, how do you go about writing? In this segment, we will look at some of the issues of style, craft, and audience that come with writing about issues of religion and faith. We’ll also discuss how editors work with writers and the role a writer plays in developing and sharpening an essay.
A link to a 10-minute video on Oakes’ UC-Berkeley course on “Spiritual Autobiography in a Secular Time” for people of all faiths, people who are “none of above, and people we would refer to as all of the above — I am from Berkeley.” [Cite: Kaya Oakes, “Spiritual Autobiography in a Secular Time,” IgniteTalks, 2015, Center for Catholic Thought, Creighton University, Omaha https://dspace2.creighton.edu/xmlui/handle/10504/118949.]
MORE TO COME [watch this space] …
[Published, at least in first-draft form, Aug. 12, 2022]