Cynthia Beach is a professor of creative writing. She authored the novel The Surface of Water and writing book Creative Juices for Writers. Her contributions appear in newspapers, literary journals and books like Media Ethics (Longman) and Hope in the Mourning Bible (Zondervan). She cofounded Breathe Christian Writers Conference and Scriptoria: Writers Moved by Faith with Newbery-winner Gary Schmidt. Her Irish historical fiction, The Seaborne Series, is forthcoming.
Writing has been my driving force since the day I cut through pine needles at Big Basin Campgrounds and a story about my Cracker Jack ring whirled into my mind on what seemed like a magical paper plane.
Through elementary and high school, I grew enamored with words and cadence. Unfortunately, I let a “C” on a college essay dissuade me of my literary dreams. Instead I ventured into a psychology major until an English professor grabbed ahold of me and said, “You can write!”
Soon after, a journalism masters from Wheaton College equipped me to teach college and to freelance. In 1990, I began my career as a writing professor, a career that immersed me in the luxury of being a student of writing for life.
One example of fruit from teaching is Creative Juices for Writers (2019, 2021). This book can fuel fiction and nonfiction writers with its collection of writing how-to’s.
My other nonfiction contributions include over a hundred articles in Seattle and Grand Rapids newspapers and chapters or stories in books like Zondervan’s grief bible, Hope in the Mourning and the textbook, Media Ethics.
In 2014, I completed a delicious MFA in fiction writing. An MFA—with its emphasis on craft—helped me master craft and supported me as I polished my novel, The Surface of Water.
I also freelance as a creativity coach and editor. Writers can be glitchy creatures. Process glitches. Craft glitches. We want to write, and don’t. Writing coaching coaxes writers through blocks, can help them devise process strategies and/or discover how to improve weak areas in their writing.
Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and creative formation practices—akin to spiritual formation—have cleared my creative arteries and let me stay writing, fresh and green. Since the mid-90s, I have led creativity groups and classes in Seattle and Grand Rapids. I was certified in spiritual direction and studied creativity coaching under guru Dr. Eric Maisel. Before Covid, I co-led the writing retreat Breathe Deeper with Sensible Shoes author Sharon Garlough Brown.
In 2021, I was Christianity Today’s fiction judge for Best Book Awards. Fiction winners, Eden Mine by S. M. Hulse and God’s Liar by Thom Satterlee, were dazzling.
Now I’m working with Newbery-winner Gary Schmidt (Okay for Now, The Wednesday Wars) to create a faith-based writing workshop in West Michigan with Calvin U, Cornerstone U and Aquinas. June 20-4, 2022 was our pilot residency for Scriptoria. Now for Scriptoria 2023!
(Photo credits: Mussenden Temple, Northern Ireland by K. Mitch Hodge and author shot by Rob Keys.)