|Virginia and Norm Rohrer in 2004|
Fifty years ago, Norm Rohrer had a dream to train Christians to write for publication. He developed a correspondence course and began training people through the Christian Writers Guild. Many of us still remember Norm’s “I Fire Writers ... With Enthusiasm” ads that ran in various magazines.
In the days before the internet, Norm and his wife, Virginia, worked as a team to coach aspiring writers through the mail, one at a time.
In 2001, Norm passed the torch to Jerry B. Jenkins. Wanting to be a good steward of the resources from the success of Left Behind, Jerry took on the task to multiply the Guild’s ministry and restock the pool of Christian Writers. He enlisted publishing veteran Les Stobbe to re-write the 50-lesson, two-year course – then plan advanced courses in fiction and nonfiction – and yet more specialty courses.
|Jerry B. Jenkins|
Jerry expanded the team of mentors and placed full-page ads in leading magazines. He planned a series of “Writing for the Soul” conferences with top speakers and teachers at luxury venues. He initiated a contest for first-time novelists that provided a hefty advance and publication by a top company.
At its peak, the Guild was training more than a thousand students in the craft of Christian writing. But times changed. The publishing world began reinventing itself. New online learning opportunities appeared. Even in partnership with a publishing services company, the Guild’s numbers continued to shrink. This fall, the time came to shut the doors.
Jerry never earned a nickel from the Guild. Far from it. He recently wrote to CWG mentors, “I had hoped that by now the Guild might have at least started breaking even so that it could sustain itself, but I don’t regret the considerable investment I have put into it and never cut corners or sacrificed quality.”
If you’re reading this, you’ve been touched by the Guild. If not directly through its courses, conferences, contests, critiques, blogs, or webinars, then by writers, agents, and editors who have.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, if you'd like to say thanks, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m a bit melancholy,” Jerry says, “but I have a heart full of wonderful memories too.” As Norm Rohrer said in the Guild’s original course, “What’s your story?”