Losing a friend who was a friend to all

Raymond Buckland
A few of Buck’s books.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The news of my friend’s death fell heavy upon me as if all of Autumn’s trees had simultaneously shed their rainbow of colors in one smothering, leafy avalanche. Raymond Buckland meant that much to me.

I wasn’t alone. As word spread of Buck’s death, other friends who knew him began sharing words of praise on social media. All lauded his kindness, generosity, and love for life. He was truly a caring and gentle soul who touched many people around the globe.

Buck’s spiritual heart was full of love and light. His human heart had finally failed him.

Raymond Buckland
Raymond Buckland.
I met Buck through our weekly writing group, the Killbuck Valley Writers Guild. We met every Sunday afternoon for three hours at Jitters Coffee House in Millersburg, Ohio. I think Buck picked that venue as much for the yummy pastries as the central location. At the writers’ group, we called him Buck. To others, he was Raymond or Ray.

Born in London, England, his alluring British accent enhanced his magic words that he loved to read aloud. Buck was facetious about details, extracting them from his broad life experiences and incorporating them into his informative, vivid, and descriptive writing. He often used the settings of his formative years as the scenes for his many books. When asked, Buck didn’t really know how many books he had written in his lifetime. It must have been at least one for each of his 83 years of dynamic living.

Buck never bragged about his accomplishments or his awards. He would share the good news of course, but always in ways that encouraged and motivated his beloved writing troupe. Through living, reading, and research, Buck became an expert in a wide variety of subjects ranging from mystery writing to witchcraft. His preferred mode of transport, however, was a Corvette, not a broom.

Buck never foisted his beliefs onto others. Nor did he judge others for theirs even though they may have differed. Writing came first and foremost for Buck. It’s how he made his living. It’s how he connected with the world. It’s why he formed and nurtured the writing group.

Raymond Buckland
My last shot of Buck.
The genre of writing didn’t matter to Buck, just so long as you wrote. We had song lyrics, poems, allegories, newspaper columns, essays, narratives, short stories, science fiction, non-fiction, and novels both written and read in our little collection of scribes.

We had lots of laughs in our writing group thanks to Buck’s good sense of humor. He put that jovial approach into supportive action for the good of the community. Buck helped organize and sponsor comedy night benefits as fundraisers for the Holmes County District Public Library.

Buck showed his generosity in various forms. If he knew you were serious about writing, Buck would gladly spend his valuable time advising and encouraging writers, novice and experienced alike. He also freely gave away computers, books, and various writing resources.

He was a realist and idealist, a visionary and a professor all rolled into one loveable and likable human being. Buck’s generosity was a byproduct of his gracious living.

Buck believed in using descriptive, sensory words efficiently. As he would remind us, one word is better than two. “Show, don’t tell” was another essential writing reminder. Showing is precisely how Buck lived his storied, charitable life.

Buck loved music, both playing instruments and singing. He was as engaging as he was creative. In part, that’s what attracted so many readers and writers to him. It’s also why he will be missed so very much by so very many.

Buck enjoyed participating in the benefit comedy nights.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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

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