Precious Memories: My Start in Creative Writing

Writing has been a vision of mine for decades. Those who sat under my ministry, or maybe I should say, suffered under my ministry, could tell that I had a lot to say but so little time to say it. Usually, for a preacher, that is a good thing. But my thoughts have always run deep. Research and recording the results fit more in the classroom than in the pulpit. Could this be a spiritual gift?

After leaving high school, many were not sure that I had the intellect to go on to college. This angered me enough to do it anyway. I was going to show them. It has been said regarding college, to succeed, you have to either love it or loathe it. The first thing I learned was that I loved it.

During my first semester at Washington State University, I voluntarily spent many evenings in a reading room, not reading, but learning how to read. There were antiquated machines that pushed me to read faster to improve my comprehension and vocabulary tests. It was no wonder some drew the conclusion I was not smart enough to go to college. My grades were mediocre at best. But I was determined to go on to graduate school.

Again, I encountered a hill to climb. Learning Greek, reading dry, confusing theology books, and writing papers all required good study habits. My study habits were nil. So, with an undergraduate degree in education, I set out to teach myself how to study and how to learn.

In 1989, Dr. Roy Sprague, the Executive Director of the Northwest Independent Church Extension (NICE), took note of some comments I shared at a pastors’ breakfast and asked me to set my thoughts down in article form. He published the article in the fall edition of The Increase, a publication of NICE. The title of the article was Relationships in the Local Church. (see reprint under the category, Christian Living, on this website)

I was bitten. From then on I wanted to write. I contacted the registrar at Seattle Pacific University to see if there was a creative writing course I could take. They said there was none at my level of education. But, after consulting with the chairman of the English department, it was agreed they would establish a course just for me.

During the fall of 1989, I registered for the course. The title was ENG 4995 DIRECTED READINGS for 3 credits. I was the only student. My professor was Dr. Rose Reynoldson. (See a copy of her memorial at the end of this article)

Each class period we met in the student union building cafeteria and sat at a small table. At the beginning of the first session, I offered to buy Dr. Reynoldson a cup of coffee. She refused saying it would be unethical. I did not offer again.

The goal of the class was for me to write 2,000 words of manuscripts of various types. I would submit my completed assignments from the previous week at the beginning of each class. She would go over the papers with a fine-toothed comb making notations and corrections in the margins in green ink. She used green ink, she said, because she thought the standard red ink was too negative. I would make the corrections and she would correct them again until she was satisfied I had successfully completed each assignment. Instead of 2,000 words, I ended by writing and her correcting over 6,000 words. Most of the manuscripts were eventually published in various Christian publications.

I used Dr. Reynoldson’s teaching methods, including green ink, when I taught classes at Moody Bible Institute Northwest Center for External Studies in Spokane, Washington in the 1990s. I was determined that every student would learn how to write a decent paper. The students responded marvelously. I did not keep their papers but turned them back to them thinking it would be unethical for me to use their material for any purpose without their permission. I wish I had many of those papers. It was rewarding for me to see how much improvement they made.

When Moody Bible Institute in Chicago learned of my methods of teaching students how to write, they requested that I publish those methods which I learned from Dr. Reynoldson. They became standard for all of the Moody extension campuses.

At the end of my SPU course, I learned Dr. Reynoldson was organizing week-long conferences for aspiring writers at SPU. I attended two on campus and another at Warm Beach Conference Center. These were exciting times and set me ablaze to publish. However, one thing I learned was that most well-published authors either owned or were owned by publishing houses. There was little interest in the subjects I wanted to write about.

I did finally self-publish a book, Can We Talk: About Matters of this Life. I have reprinted it on this website.

Now that I am “retired” I finally have the time, the tools, and the opportunity due to the internet, to write, write, write. This is not a hobby for me. I believe it is as much a “calling” as God leading me into full-time Christian ministry. Like the wonderful opportunities that God gave me over five decades of preaching and teaching, I want to exegete and expound the Scriptures, promote the edification of Christians everywhere, and encourage those in ministry today.

It seems like yesterday that Dr. Roy Sprague and Dr. Rose Reynoldson came into my life. It seems like such a short time but these two individuals were used by God to bless my life and reshape everything I have done since then.

Read more regarding Dr. Rose Reynoldson