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Friday, July 23, 2021

Small town, big ideas: Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network remains strong through pandemic

Photo courtesy Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network
When the pandemic prevented meeting in person, the Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network didn’t miss a beat, instead turning to Zoom. Zooming weekly training and critique sessions allows out-of-town members to attend and enables them to host and hear award-winning authors and presenters.

By Allyn Schuyler
Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network

At 9 a.m. every Monday morning, a dedicated group of writers meet in a small church in a small town to do something big — change the world, one story at a time. When so much of what we read is worrisome, these writers bring an open and fresh perspective. Inspired to write of hope and encouragement, the group has collaborated and produced three collections of stories and individuals have published dozens of books and hundreds of articles in a wide variety of genres.

In the beginning

In 2015, a lifelong pastor, a local artist and a published author met to discuss their shared calling to write. All three had a wealth of ideas and passionately set about to form a group to equip and encourage others through the power of the written word. As a result, the Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network was born.

Their group has grown to include well-known authors, business owners and consultants, college professors, housewives and home-schooling moms, students, poets and — as you might expect in Colorado — a few bohemian free spirits.

In 2020, when the pandemic prevented meeting in person, this die-hard group didn’t miss a beat. Zooming weekly training and critique sessions allowed their out-of-town members from as far away as Niagara Falls to attend. This approach also enabled them to host and hear award-winning authors and presenters, a practice they still enjoy.

Why we write

A few members have been writing for a lifetime, but some are just starting out. Their motivation for crafting stories is as diverse as the group itself.

Jessica, a gifted 20-something writer of young adult fantasy, learned to love stories listening to her grandpa talk and imagining the people and places he described. “I felt like I had the chance to try on someone else’s shoes, or life, for a moment.” Wisely, she added, “God has blessed me with a gift that I do not wish to waste — so, I write.”

Richard, recently retired from the pulpit, started writing after a visit to a seriously ill friend who had been an active missions volunteer. During their conversation, his friend’s wife said, “I wish someone would write Jerome’s story before he passes away.”

“I’ll do it!” Richard offered, and that led to his successful second act — writing for Christian publications and producing several books about outstanding Christian leaders and world mission adventures.

Designed to create

Betty was a prolific painter and art teacher before she felt compelled to write. She has written for her local newspaper since 2008 and has published several books of fiction. “I’m an idea person. I painted every picture that came into my mind. I do the same thing with my writing. I’d dry up if I didn’t have somewhere to express my creativity. I used to redecorate my house every week as I was cleaning it. I painted an old orange phone turquoise. I moved furniture around. When the kids came home from school, they never knew what to expect.” Now Betty focuses that creativity into arranging words.

Michael, an executive ethics coach, has written a book on that subject and concurs with Betty. The child of immigrants from Germany and Hungary, his great-grandfather was a count.

“I have a strong need to create. Sculpting is one of my hobbies. Building teams and organizations is part of my calling. Writing is a way to communicate God’s message through my filter.”

A generational legacy

Sometimes the passion for writing is passed on from one generation to the next.

April’s father was a state department diplomat who took his family all around the world — Turkey, Columbia, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, England and Hawaii are just some of the exotic places she called home. Cleaning out her mother’s basement, April discovered a wealth of family history through letters and writings that she has now curated and compiled into a book.

Pam, one of the group’s newest members, found writing fulfills a purpose in her life, but also nurtures a legacy. “Creating a piece of writing makes me feel accomplished and it keeps the memory of my mother close to my heart. She enjoyed writing also.”

The sheer joy

Joyce’s experiences living and working overseas have given her countless ideas to share in her writing and poetry. “No other endeavor makes me feel so alive as when I’m in the midst of crafting a poem. To get it to express exactly what I’m feeling or envisioning, and with the right meter, rhythm, rhyme, subtle lilt or mystery is such a gift. To express myself in a fresh and beautiful way satisfies my creative instincts and helps my readers to see or appreciate something in a new, deeper sense.”

Lynn began her career when her church asked her to write a book about her very popular children’s program. “When I pounded out two little words, Picture Craig, on an old Royal typewriter, the writing bug bit me. I realized I didn’t know how to write and went on a quest to learn. Ten published books later, I’m still happiest when I’m pouring out stories.”

Importance of community

One of the most unique things about this group is their dedication to fellowship and continuing education. Attendance every week, even during the lockdown, was remarkably consistent, with most people agreeing that the ongoing training and small group critique has been integral to their success.

Kathy, from Southgate, Mich., published a book on educational resources for home-school children with special needs and speaks to the importance of her writers’ groups. “The encouragement is priceless; so are the relationships gained there.”

Richard agrees. “This group of dedicated friends has taught me how to grow as a writer and learn the craft of writing. Where would I be today without their encouragement? I am grateful.”

Divine call

Linda started writing as a teenager and published her first stories in Seventeen Magazine. She continues to traditionally publish historical fiction and is toying with indy publishing a young adult book. 

When asked what she would say to someone just starting out, she replied, “The moment someone says, ‘I’ve thought about writing, or I’ve always wanted to write, or I have so many stories in my heart,’ I believe God is calling them to use the talent and gift He has already given them. They need to dip a toe in and learn to swim. They may not become Olympic champions or even the level of a hopeful, but everyone trained for the sport wins.”

As Betty sits down to her column week after week, she reminds herself, “God has entrusted us with a gift. We are told to witness the light. What better way than writing down our heart and letting the light come out.”

If you have a longing to write, look for others that share your passion. Whether you are in a small town or large city, find a group or start one of your own.

For more information about Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network and its members, visit its website at www.wolfcreekwriters.com or find it on Facebook at Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network.

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