The joy of being with other writers

The festival folder and my scribbly notes.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I love being with other writers. They inspire me, challenge me, and rally me.

That’s one reason I belong to the Killbuck Valley Writers Guild, a small band of area writers devoted to honing their skills at the craft. We meet weekly, though I can’t always make it. We read, we write, and we share. It’s the writing process personified.

I also like to attend writing conferences on occasion. Doing so helps me keep up with what’s going on in publishing, and in today’s world of instantaneous information, there’s a lot. Time and experience have given me that perspective.

As a youngster, I took my writing ability for granted. I thought everyone could write. It took me a long time to realize that wasn’t the case.

In college, I chose to major in journalism, in part because I enjoyed writing, and because I had experience writing for local newspapers even as a teenager. I can thank the late Hymie Williams for that opportunity. Williams was a sports writer for The Plain Dealer, and got me started writing for the paper at age 16.

Raymond Buckland is a driving force and a valued member of the Killbuck Valley Writers’ Guild. Having written 70 books, he serves as a mentor to the group’s members. We just call him Buck.
But an internship at a major metropolitan newspaper showed me the inside out of the publishing business, and I didn’t like what I saw. Instead, I turned to my first love, helping children. After my 30-year career in education ended, however, the ink in my veins still flowed.

I began my second career in marketing and writing, working for two local, successful businesses extolling the virtues of their products and services. I began writing my weekly column about the same time.

Now in my retirement phase of life, writing has finally become the priority it should have been all along. I greatly enjoy sharing stories week to week. But I also recognize that I still have much to absorb about writing.

When I learned about the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I signed up for the three-day deal. My wife and three other friends who also love to write accompanied me. I could not imagine what a wise decision we had made.

It was pure joy to mingle with people who know and love the printed word as much or more than I do. I was grateful for the chance to learn, grow, and improve my writing by attending workshops, listening to speakers, and joining informal breakout groups.

The campus of Calvin College.
I had been to other writing conferences, and found them to be very helpful. But they did not compare to the breadth and depth of the offerings at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Held on the campus of Calvin College, the hospitality shown by the staff and volunteers, and even students that I encountered, was generous and gracious.

To be able to hear the personal stories of noted authors like Richard Foster, James McBride, Anne Lamott and Rachel Held Evans was simply amazing. To have the opportunity to speak briefly with them was icing on the cake.

These were real people, with real life issues, not much different than you and me. Hearing them, seeing them, conversing with them gave me renewed hope, and encouragement to keep writing.

The conference was a reminder that we all have stories to share. Attending the Festival of Faith and Writing inspired me to keep telling your stories, my stories, and to continue pursuing my dream of one day publishing a book.

For me, the conference affirmed three points. Writing is hard work. Having a circle of trusted friends is critical for effective writing. And I need to accelerate my writing endeavors here and now. Time is fleeting.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

4 thoughts on “The joy of being with other writers”

  1. Glad you got to this top notch conference. Did you get to meet Valerie Weaver-Zercher there as well; I’m sure you’ve met her before but she enjoyed it so much too. Nice to hear about your own local group.


  2. This sounds like such a joyous experience, I hope you learned a ton of new skills. Hopefully I can make it to one of them before the end of my lifetime or theres.


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