Cynthia Beach is a professor of creative writing and author of the novel, The Surface of Water, and writing book, Creative Juices. Her articles and contributions appear in newspapers, literary journals and books like Horse of My Heart (Revell) and Hope in the Mourning Bible (Zondervan). She cofounded Breathe Christian Writers Conference and founded the retreat, Write Season (formerly Breathe Deeper). Her 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 lost 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: A Splash of Story Craft, Process & Creative Soul Care (2019). 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 four 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.
Traveling with other writers, I’ve found, to be akin to having water as you cross the desert. Since 2006, I’ve belonged to The Guild, which founded the writing conference Breathe. We established this two-day conference to encourage and equip other writers.
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 and artist-instructor Elizabeth Ivy Hawkins. Once COVID lessens, we will continue offering writing retreats, now named Write Seasons.
Recently, I was Christianity Today’s fiction judge for the 2021 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 MFA in West Michigan with Calvin U, Cornerstone U and Aquinas. June 20-4, 2022 will be our pilot residency.