Heather Calvillo is a first year resident with The Austin Stone Story Team. Heather served for three years as an editor for Story Team before beginning her editing residency. The story “Faith on Amen Corner” was Heather’s first assignment as a writer for Story Team, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about it.
Story Team: What was it like to meet Bobby and Debbie and to hear their story for the first time?
Heather Calvillo: I met Bobby and Debbie for the first time two weeks before I conducted the official interview for their story. I felt an instant bond with both of them—like they were extended family members I’d never met before. I loved the way Bobby and Debbie showed the way they love each other just by the way they were sitting on the couch together—close, relaxed, holding hands.
When they explained the basic threads of their story, it was evident that they wanted God to receive all the glory. That was a quote that I didn’t repeat in the actual story, but it was a phrase that both Bobby and Debbie repeated throughout our initial meeting and the interview: “We want God to have all the glory. We want it to be all about Him.” They said that over and over again.
Story Team: What did God teach you through the process of writing this story?
Heather: As a writer by trade, I have a process for how I write stories. I have experience with writing magazine features, and I have a pretty particular framework I write through. When I sat down to write this story, while I definitely drew from that framework, God really pressed it upon my heart to write this story with open hands—letting Him guide the narrative. After all, He’s the real author of this story; I’m simply the pen.
Whenever I felt the ever-so-hated writer’s block, it was because I was trying to impose my own tactics upon the story. In those moments, God lovingly reminded me that I needed Him to continue writing. I needed to ask Him what to say and how to say it. It really helped me to see that my gift of writing is completely reliant on the gift giver Himself. It was cool because God gave me the creative inspiration, and then I’d write a line and think, Wow! That sounds good. So, in that way, too, God also lets us enjoy our work.
Story Team: What is one thing that wasn’t in the story that you think people should know about this story?
Heather: You should know that Bobby is an amazing chef! He prepared a casserole/cheesy pasta dish for their Sunday bible study and I am not ashamed to say, I went back for seconds. Okay, maybe thirds!
Story Team: You have been an editor on Story Team for three years and this was your first time actually writing a story for our team, what was that experience like?
Heather: It was really humbling to be on the writing side of the story this time. I got to experience what it’s like—for the first time in a long time—to submit your first draft and receive critical feedback from an editor. My editor on this story, Sarah Saxton-Frump, was so gracious in her feedback. She lovingly pointed out the areas that needed reworking, and she was such a cheerleader for the places that were written well. She’s just really cool, overall, but that is beside the point. My second editor, Lindsey Lundin, said she cried when she read the story. I couldn’t believe it. Really? My words brought you to tears? And then God reminded me that His story brought her to tears. Only He can do that with stories! Lindsey also gave me great feedback and pointed out specific things to remember for my next story.
It was also really interesting to see the areas of the story that both Sarah and Lindsey edited, because there were things in there that I thought were gold. And come to find out, they didn’t need to be there. Or, they were written in passive voice instead of active voice. When I edit stories, that is the first thing I look for—phrases that are passive instead of active. And I chop them up. So, it was humbling when I saw that I have the same tendency when I write. It showed me that even editors need an editor and a fresh pair of eyes to look over their work. It solidified for me why our stories have two editors—because it makes for a better story in the end. When we collaborate, we just get a better product! So yeah, it was humbling. And I can’t wait for the next story that I get to write!
Feature image by Karen Schlink.