Write for the Reader
B J Bassett
“You write for the reader,” Dr. Sherwood “Woody” Wirt, founding editor of Decision Magazine, said during our one on one meeting.
When I left, my feet didn’t touch the path at the Mount Hermon Conference grounds. Instead, I floated to my room. Dr. Wirt’s words inspired me then and they still do today. His encouraging words were unlike any I’d heard before.
Beginning at an early age, the words I’d heard were, “Not good enough.” “Stand up straight.” “Don’t slouch.” “Why can’t you be like Linda?” “Four eyes.” And “Loser.” I was labeled a daydreamer in school because I’d rather gaze out the window than pay attention during class. Today, I’d probably be considered as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). If, in fact, I was ADD, I learned to live with it. Yes, I was a daydreamer. Is it any wonder I became a writer? I was primed for rejections. And I got them. Lots of them.
In high school I daydreamed about writing for the school paper. What was I thinking? My spelling, grammar and punctuation were horrific. After I was married and raising a family, the death of my brother in Vietnam was the catalyst that changed my life. I’d read somewhere that sometimes when you lose a loved one, you take on one of their characteristics. My brother, Danny, enjoyed writing.
I felt the nudge to take a writing class. The instructor discouraged me. Those familiar words of my youth echoed in my mind, “Not good enough.” “Loser.” I didn’t’ give up. Living on a tight budget, there wasn’t any money to invest in my passion. Fortunate to live near a large library, I checked out every book and magazine on writing. I devoured them, took notes and eventually began to write. I started a critique group and began to submit my work. I amassed a heap of rejections.
I was persistent—a lesson I learned from my dad. Before my dad became a building contractor, he was a carpenter who wanted to work for a big name builder in Beverly Hills, California. So Dad knocked on the builder’s door—once, twice. The third time Dad asked for a job, he was hired.
A personal experience piece I wrote about my daughter’s anorexia received twenty-two rejections before Focus on the Family published it. After publication, it continued to receive rejections. It’s also been reprinted in a dozen publications.
I’m a jack of all sorts, master of none. I write articles, book reviews, curriculum, devotionals, features, greeting cards and books. As a writer, speaker and teacher, my forte is to inspire others.
Like my anorexia article, I have other favorite projects. One of those is my historical novel, Lily. And like my anorexia piece, Lily was rejected over and over again. Words that brought tears to my eyes were when my daughter Melanie said, “If Lily isn’t published during your lifetime, I’ll make sure it gets published after you’re gone.” Melanie believed in Lily as much as I did. Maybe I’m selfish, but I wanted to see it in print during my lifetime.
Lily was self-published as a result of a horrific car accident. I used the money from an insurance settlement to publish it.
Writing a book is hard. Promoting one is harder. Recently I told Melanie, “I’m not making any money from Lily.” Her response, “Mom, you didn’t write Lily to make money. You wrote it for the reader.”
She’s right. Her words remind me of what Dr. Wirt said all those years ago at the writer’s conference. “You write for the reader.”
BJ Bassett encourages others as an author, teacher and speaker.
Her books include a historical novel Lily; A Touch of Grace—The G.R.A.C.E. Ministries Story, and coauthor of My Time with God which sold 55,000 copies while in print. Her recently released contemporary romance, Gillian’s Heart, is now available. Visit her at www.bjbassett.com.
She teaches writing workshops at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon and at writer’s conference. As a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries, she tells her story of rejection and acceptance, not only in life, but as a writer as well. She also offers book talks, including discussion questions and shares the journey—from the seed of an idea to a publisher book.
She enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, munching warm scones oozing with butter and strawberry jam and sipping earl grey tea. A native Californian, she now lives with her husband of 57 years in Roseburg, Oregon.
Abandoned as a child by her alcoholic parents, Gillian Grant was raised by her grandmother in a beach house in California. As an adult, in tribute to Gram’s memory, Gillian wishes to restore the house to its former splendor. But she can’t do it alone, and hires Dusty Bradshaw to help her.
Gillian and Dusty have nothing in common, except the restoration of the house. Gillian suffers from anorexia and is in denial. While she has a strong faith in God, Dusty is an unbeliever. Add to the complicated mess Gillian’s confusing feelings for Josh and the sudden, unwanted appearance of Gillian’s mother Betsy, who claims the house is hers. And she intends to sell it.
Gillian always dreamed of her wedding in her grandmother’s garden overlooking the Pacific. Will there be a wedding? Who will capture Gillian’s heart — her stable, longtime friend Josh — or Dusty, a new Christian, who has kept secrets from her? And who holds the deed to the house?