Posted tagged ‘writing’

Report From A Rookie Writer

May 18, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 18, 2018

                               

Day 3 of the Christian Writer’s Conference is upon me. There are a lot of people here just like me, hoping and praying that some editor or agent likes their manuscript or idea for a book so much that they hand them a business card and say, “Send it to me!”

That happened in my first appointment yesterday, and I could sense the rising up of tears. Not all of my 15 minute appointments ended up like that, but a couple did. I have two more today and one tomorrow.

It was encouraging to hear the leader of our Fiction Intensive Clinic say that there were many more who applied to be in that group who were sent letters saying “Sorry!” He told the six of us that were accepted that although each of us had things to work on there was potential in each of our writings to be taken to the next level. 

The group spends an hour on each of the admissions, which are usually about the first 10-14 pages of the manuscript. My turn comes Saturday morning and then I will have a half hour Saturday afternoon with the instructor.

This conference is about learning- learning to write more effectively, learning that there are other aspects to getting a book published besides pecking out 100,000 words on my AirBook, learning new terminology, and learning many of the little things that raise a writer’s readability level. 

I’m also learning that it’s necessary to risk. Coming here is risky, because you may get trampled on. Years ago, my fiction clinic instructor was ready to walk out of the same conference because he was so discouraged, but the conference coordinator got a hold of him and gave him a word of encouragement. Years later he’s now the fiction class leader, and author of a number of books. 

There are other conference first-timers here, just like me, but the bulk of the attendees have been coming to this conference for years. They know what to do and where to go. There’s been a few times where I’ve looked like a new freshman standing in the hallway of his new highs chool trying to figure out where the Band Room is.

We all come with stories that we think are the best thing since sliced bread. They are our babies that we want to protect. Having someone suggest that a writer might change the story or the wording sometimes feels like another person telling you to change the way you parent your baby.

Through it all, I’ve become more thankful for the God who leads and guides us and the people he brings along the path to walk with us. 

The Value Of Being Told You Aren’t All That

April 29, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     APRIL 29, 2018

 

In seventeen days I’ll be pulling out of our driveway and heading to Estes Park, Colorado for the Christian Writers Conference. For me it has the feel of a rookie arriving at spring training camp…the anxiety of being the new kid, the uncertainty of what I’ll find out, and the fear of being told my writing sucks the wind!

I received the good news this past week that I was accepted into the Fiction Intensive Clinic, a group limited to six that will spend a number of hours together during the three day conference affirming, questioning, and dissecting the synopsis and first chapter of each other’s book.

In preparation for the conference, a friend of mine arranged a luncheon meeting with him and a man, who works for the same Christian publishing company, to discuss my book and offer me some guidance. At Estes Park I will have the opportunity to meet with several literary agents, but each of those appointments are only 15 minutes long.

We sat munching on our lunch and chit-chatting and then my lunch partner asked me a question: “Tell me what your book is about in one sentence.”

I pondered for a moment between bites and then offered something that didn’t make much sense, and was more than one sentence.

Followup: “Would you say the book is character-based or a plot-based?”

“Well, I think it would be character-based, although there is the building to a climax and…”

A couple of other followup questions and then the bad news.

“If I was a publisher I don’t think I would be interested in pursuing the book.”

Gulp! My sweet beverage suddenly had a sour taste to it.

It was hard to hear, but probably what I needed to hear. Not that the book isn’t good enough to be published, but rather that I need to be clearer on my understanding and presentation about it. A fifteen minute appointment is not a long time and in those brief moments the presenter needs to communicate what the story is about, its audience, and why I wrote it. My critic did me a favor. He showed me that after you write a double-spaced 400 page book you have to do the hard work of being able to present it.

Part of who we are, our DNA personality if you will, is the desire to “be all that”, to think that we have it…the next Hemingway, or Missy Franklin, or Taylor Swift. We want whatever our performance is to be awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping.

Words of reality are needed to bring us back to who we really are and what we need to do. I officiated high school and small college basketball for sixteen years, and I saw my share of officials who never raised their level of performance because they wouldn’t listen to the words of their evaluators. I was only able to raise my level because I listened to people who were willing to tell me where I needed to improve, questioned me about certain whistles I had during games, and quizzed me on “what if’s”.

There is value in being told that you aren’t all that! In Estes Park I’m sure I’ll hear variations of those words a number of times, but there will also be words said in a way that will spur me on towards a desired outcome.

Why I Wrote A Book

November 13, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        November 13, 2017

                            

I’ve enjoyed writing in my spare time, and now especially in my retired life time. I’ve progressed just a bit since I flunked English Composition my first quarter in college back in 1972. And now I’ve written a book!

Before you become too dismayed let me say that it hasn’t been published yet! In fact, two special friends who edited the manuscript for me are helping me figure out what publishers  and literary agents to send it to, and what each of those publishers and agents look for. So…it’s done, and yet it’s a long ways from being done!

The book is about a young man who has moved to a new town in West Virginia with his family. His dad is the new pastor of the First Baptist Church (Yes, that sounds familiar!), and the young man is going into ninth grade. New town, new school, and he has bright red hair. Everyone notices him! This young man is an exceptional basketball player, but also a teenager who has great character and humbleness.

And that’s why I wrote the book! In my twenty plus years of coaching and sixteen years of basketball officiating I’ve witnessed a growing trend: athletes who think the world should stop and pay homage to them for making a three point jump shot. There is the stink of arrogance that has filtered into athletics. I long to find the young athletes who have a firm grasp on the reality of life; that athletics is a form of fun and recreation and there are many other things in this life that are much more important.

That list includes such pursuits as treating everyone with respect, showing compassion to the hurting and grace to the fallen, making responsible decisions, and seeking to serve in various ways.

Young athletes need parents who are well-grounded and lead their sons and daughters towards that healthy understanding of what life is all about. Sometimes warped young people are the direct result of having parents who were already twisted in their priorities !

And so I wrote a fictional story about a kid who understood that making a free throw wasn’t as important as his friendship with the seventh grade neighbor boy who had always been made to feel he wasn’t good enough.

I wrote a book about a young man who held the idea of being a team as being more important, win-or-lose, than being the star of a team.

I wrote a book about a new kid in a place of unwritten traditions and practices who lives a life that has been planted with humility and fertilized with grace. I’m hoping that in the future I will meet that young man often and each day, whether it be a court, a field, a stage, or a track.

Coming Up With A Title

September 12, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 12, 2017

                                     

I enjoy writing. It’s where I drink most of my coffee, while sitting on a stool at Starbucks at 7:30 in the morning…or at one of the lower level tables at our local library. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine that gets the words percolating or the comfortableness of the writing spot. My life is now a mixture of writing, coaching, substitute teaching, Sunday preaching, and grandpa-ing!

I recently completed the manuscript of a book I’ve been compiling for a while. Over the summer I was able to put more time into it and, finally, came to the words “THE END” about three weeks ago. A teaching friend, Marise DeKlerk, and a long-time friend, Diana Stucky, are doing editing of the manuscript for me and offering suggestions. Diana, especially, has given me some great feedback that has helped me to strengthen the characters and storyline.

The only thing is…I can’t figure out what to title the book! Titles make people take notice! I spend a lot of time at my public library looking for a new book to read. I survey the shelves that hold countless titles in numerous categories. The title draws me in…or not! I can only read one book at a time, and here I have a multitude of choices.

The book is about a boy named Randy who has moved to a new town, Fleming, West Virginia, with his family as he is about to enter his freshman year of high school. His father is a Baptist pastor coming Fleming to pastor the First Baptist Church. Randy has bright red hair that makes him stand out. He is a young man of great character and humbleness…who also happens to be a very, very good basketball player. He befriends Ethan, the seventh grader who lives across the street from him, and who is seen as being the weird kid in his class because of his thick eyeglasses and awkwardness. Randy’s basketball talent draws attention to him from around the state, but it never changes who he is…a person of character who understands that basketball is just a game, and there are more important things in life.

I could title the book simply “Randy”, or “Shots from Red”, or “New Kid”, or “New Freshman”, or “Bowman” (his last name!). I could go with location and title it “Fleming”, or “The Flame of Fleming”, do basketball specific titles like “Swish!” or “Roundball!”

None of those, however, really catch my eye! I’m stuck! I’m at a loss! How can I write a great story but be clueless about what to call it?

GoReadMe

December 30, 2016

                                                                                   December 30, 2016

                                          

I’m thinking of a new venture called “GoReadMe.com“. It would be completely self-serving and ego-stroking in a culture that is self-serving and ego-stroking. The purpose would be to increase reader traffic at my “WordsfromWW.com” blog.

I got the idea in my sleep last night. Well, actually it came about the time my senior citizen body took a bathroom break from actually sleeping. I figured that if “gofundme.com” can raise over 3 billion dollars for special causes, perhaps a new “GoReadMe.com” might greatly multiply the viewership of the “Wolfe words” I hammer out.

Sounds crazy, I know, but a “GoFundMe” cause set up to help Betty White survive 2016 has raised almost $7,000 so far! What??? I’m not sure what happens to her on January 1, 2017. Perhaps a new cause will emerge to finance another year of survival for her.

On “GoReadMe” I could develop categories such as “Non-sensical”, “spiritually uplifting”, “for substitute teachers”, “family reminiscing”, and…”other.” Or perhaps, like when we would go to buy a new household appliance or television and then get the warranty pitch from the salesman…”This may have been assembled on a Monday when the workers were still hungover from the weekend. You never know, so you might want to purchase a warranty to protect yourself!” Maybe my categories would be the seven days of the week, because…you never know!

Bottom line…I am totally clueless about how to attract people to read my writings. If you have any ideas, please let me know! In a world that is wordy, getting more readership feels kind of like the owner of a restaurant attracting more customers so he can stay in business.

And please…please…please…I do not want someone to start a “GoFundMe” campaign to help Bill Wolfe survive 2017! I know Betty and I have the same initials and all, but…NO!

Writing A Book

August 14, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              August 13, 2016

                                           

I’m trying to write a book!

If James Patterson can spin out about a book a month I should be able to write one in a year…or two…okay, maybe three!

I, however, am not a mystery writer. I did read a lot of Agatha Christie novels in my earlier years. They were always intriguing. I often felt compelled to have a spot of tea as I read them. Murder On the Orient Express, Three Blind Mice, Death On the Nile…I enjoyed them all. But in terms of writing a mystery novel…not me!

I did write Lassie stories when I was in the third grade…longhand, and almost legible! I can’t remember what the plots of those Lassie stories were, but I’m sure I had him leaping over fences and saving chickens from foxes.

When I was in my forties I wrote two books of mini-dramas that got published by my denomination’s publishing branch. They did not make the New York Time’s Best-Sellers List. In fact, they didn’t make any list, but it was pretty cool to see my name on the covers!

Now I’m trying to write a feel good story that combines high school basketball, innocent teenage romance, an unlikely friendship, and the admirable qualities of integrity, honesty, and fairness. It’s a good story, but some days I feel like the words are coming to me about like a “Sally, Dick, and Jane” first grade primer!
See Sally run. Dick, see Sally run. Spot, run like Sally. Run, run, run!

Other times it seems like the words flow through my mind like a fine culinary recipe progressing without a hitch.

Some days I get constantly interrupted, other days I wish I would be interrupted.

And all this for the very, very, very real probability that no one will be remotely interested in publishing the end result. Unlike James Patterson, I do not have someone who has advanced me a million. But I sit in front of my laptop and peck on with two fingers on my left hand and one on my right…and the word count keeps climbing as the story slowly unfolds, characters get further developed, the past gets illuminated and the possibilities of the present get played out. I read a Harlan Coben mystery at night and write about a red-headed pastor’s kid named Randy Bowman during the day.

Writing is my release, as well as what grips me. It’s something I can’t seem to not do…all those years of writing sermons for Sunday mornings at church, but then having so many other things to write about that never seemed to fit into a Sunday message.

Today I sit at my perch in Starbucks with the question, “Well, Randy, where will our story take us today?”

600 Posts!

July 8, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 8, 2016

                                              

Today I’m writing my 600th Words from WW blog post. It’s been an adventure! The first post emerged on December 30, 2008. There have been times of writing frenzy, like in June of 2014 when I took on a challenge that wordpress.Com presented of writing a blog post each day for the entire month. Plus, they gave you the subject matter.

I’ve written about death…greatly on my mind when my mom passed away Labor Day weekend of 2013.

I’ve written about grace…and how it so often is lacking, oddly enough, in the church.

I’ve written imagined coffee conversations with Jesus…stressing that things are not always so cut and dried as people think.

I’ve written about personalities…people who have greatly influenced my life in various ways.

I’ve written about how weird people are…or should I say we all are!

I’ve written about stories in Scripture and what they teach me.

I’ve written about the church…my hope for it, and my frustration with it.

I’ve written about life…normal life and life moments that have a sense of sacredness to them, like my daughter’s wedding and car rides with my granddaughter.

I’ve written from a stool at Starbucks, my home study, and a cubicle at the public library. There’s been many occasions where I’ve sat on my Starbuck’s stool, looking out at Pike’s Peak, with no idea what I would write about and then God gives me a thought, an idea, a moment of remembering something from the past…and the words tumble out. With my earbuds in, tuned to the Coldplay station on Spotify, I go at it.

And the thing is, I write and trust that God will take it from there. He’s like the paperboy for my blog. I trust that he hits the driveway to whomever he sends it to, and it doesn’t end up underneath the shrubbery.

A couple of weeks ago someone I least expected told me that she really enjoyed my “Words.” “It is so where I live!” she exclaimed. I greatly appreciated that. I’ve never been one for high academia, as my college grades would attest to! I’m more like “The Hardy Boys”, rather than “The Brothers Karamazov!”

One of my best friends suggested that I try to get money for my blog. He knows someone who does. My mind can’t fathom that. My writing is kind of like my baseball card collection. It keeps getting bigger, but I never sell any. I’m just thrilled that people seem to enjoy reading it. According to WordPress I have 128 followers. I’m not sure what that means, and, quite honestly, I don’t know ninety percent of them. How closely do they follow? Are they more like stalkers who are following me, or readers who are looking for a chuckle in the midst of a ho-hum day?

And so I write as I sip on my Pike Place brew. Perhaps someday I’ll be on The Today Show…not!

What or whom might be the subject for #601?