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A wise teacher of mine once described the December holidays as providing “light at the darkest time of the year.” In my family’s winter tradition, the magic number coming up is eight.

As it turns out, there are eight (myself included) Popcorn bloggers. As we head toward the end of the year, I’ve been thinking about how much I have learned working on Popcorn the Blog.

Here’s a quick sketch of how my talented co-bloggers have brightened my writing life:

Carol has written about creating word collages and lexicons to activate our writer’s toolbox—words, sounds, alphabets—that are the keys of our craft.

With her first novel, The House Girl, coming out in 2013, Tara has cracked the code: She reached the finish line with a well-received work of fiction—which will have a life and new beginning of its own.

In addition to my appreciation of Karen’s other juggles (teaching, writing, parenting), I am staggered by the depth of all she has read. I love reading her seasonal recaps, and considering her picks. All this sheds light on my own reading life. When there’s mention of a much-loved, oft-reread author such as Jess Walter…and until Popcorn I had never heard of him…I ask myself, “Where have I been? Under-caffeinated—or really, under which rock?”

(A side note: I realized I spent a decade reading parenting books. My deep dive into Becoming the Parent You Want to Be was the occupational hazard of writing about parenting (the blind leading the blind).

Ruth is the language-is-reality rockstar: What we read and write and say matters. What we read to our kids matters. And just as Adrienne wrote recently about letting what we read change us for the better, Ruth’s posts nudge us to question the status quo. Adrienne also helps us keep things in perspective: Creative writing does have its frustrating moments, but ultimately it is fun.

Susan comes with many commas: award-winning memoir writer, SEO goddess, e-publishing pioneer, literary community leader. I’m inspired by her bravery, wit, business smarts, and a keeping-it-real kind of dedication.

Both Susan and Susie gave me a fresh take on poetry.  I read their posts and poems and began borrowing poetry collections from the public library. I hadn’t sought out poetry in years and was happy to revisit. In these too-busy times, I could see again that to hold a poem, with its deliberate images, rhythms and lines, adds something delicious and vivid to life.

Refreshing our perspective is a key theme in Susie’s Creative Experiments post, where she challenges her students—and all of us—to do something decidedly different from their habitual artistic approach. The post gives us a boredom-busting, productive mission: Think different.

Also in that post, Susie describes her approach to the writers in her life:

Just gratitude and the desire to work together to make every one of us the best writer we can be.

Onto the eighth writer in Popcorn’s editorial ensemble: … me. Despite the calendar crunch to squeeze in time for each post, once I get going, I’m grateful. This blog-as-conversation about how we as writers imagine something into being is awesome.

Back to that light-at-the-darkest-time-of-the-year tradition: There’s a ninth candle that lights all the others. Without getting too gushy, I would say, that ninth light is YOU. You are the fourth wall in this theatre. You prevent our tree from falling in the forest with no one to hear.

At any time of the year, we love getting cozy with a great book. Especially this season—festive, but weather-wise, a little depressing (call it Winter in Seattle)—be sure to find what brightens you, and watch it glow.

Which Popcorn the Blog post this year really brightened your writing life?