By Sam Elliott
Tracy Line has long combined two of her passions, writing and her faith, into her work.
Faith and God — as well as life, family and a variety of related topics — are common subjects on her blog, TracyLine.com. Her first book, “Chasing God: Finding Faith From the Outside Looking In,” became a memoir of faith-related essays and stories dating back to Line’s childhood that first manifested itself from free writing sessions after she shelved her first book idea.
Now Line is helping aspiring authors and writers of all skill and experience levels find their voice and further develop their thoughts as she’s leading a faith writing workshop out of her home church, Geist Christian Church.
“Chasing God” had been used in bible studies by members of Line’s church family, including pastor of family ministries Sarah Renfro, who approached Line about leading the writing workshop.
“So I just kind of mapped out what I thought might be good,” Line said. “I just thought we’d talk about writing — because anybody who’s going to come to this class obviously likes to write. I thought I’d kind of go over different writing techniques and things I learned from writing my book and freelancing and things like that — things like adding dialogue to a story to make it better, learning to use good descriptive words and really making your writing come alive. Each week we go over some writing technique and then we usually do a writing exercise related that technique and I assign homework to write about a subject that’s faith-related.”
The group first met Jan. 10 and will continue to do so each Sunday through Feb. 21. Writing topics the first few weeks included initial faith memories from childhood, faith mentors who have provided guidance and influence along spiritual journeys, and doubt, fear and things that have gotten in the way of a relationship with God.
“Each week I kind of have a theme, we’re writing about that theme and we’re talking about the writing and how to make our writing better. And everybody has entirely different voices and different writing styles. It’s really fun,” Line said. “One has a writing contract, another has a book almost fully written and she just needs a little motivation to get it done, a couple are brand new to writing and a couple love to write just as a hobby. It’s a good mix … It was really interesting for me to write my book and kind of go through all my memories. It kind of gave me an idea of how I develop my faith and I thought other people might be interested in kind of the same thing.”
Marcia Gilson, who has goals of writing faith-based children’s books and inspirational greeting cards, among other projects, said the workshop and its topics have been perfect for her.
“She’s targeting what I want to write about,” Gilson said. “She’s really helping shaping my thoughts about the kind of writing I want to do anyway.”
Renfro, under contract to write her first book about ministry and motherhood, credited Line’s assignments with helping her organize her thoughts and she’s enjoyed hearing stories from members of the church she joined just last summer.
“For me, I get to hear people’s faith stories as well as share a few of my own. It’s really cool hearing different stories and we all have our different voices and how church and faith and God has all played a part,” Renfro said. “Maybe we can offer this again or more regularly because I think it’s important to be able to write your life.”
Line has just started work on her second book and would like to repeat the faith writing workshop with other churches or bookstores after getting feedback from her first go-around.
Get to Know Tracy Line
Family: Husband of 24 years, Steve; 22-year-old daughter, Sarah; 19-year-old daughter, Megan; 13-year-old daughter, Abby.
Started writing: Almost 20 years ago after a prior career in the travel industry.
Blog: TracyLine.com — “I just do that for fun,” she said. “I think I have the theme of life, faith and family because that just tends to be what my life is about. Anything I find interesting, I’ll write about there.”
First Book: “Chasing God: Finding Faith From the Outside Looking In,” released by Carmel-based Hawthorne Publishing in July of 2015. “I always wanted to write a book. It took me a long time to do it, but in 2013 I started working on that,” Line said. “I didn’t like what I was writing, so I shelved that and started just kind of free writing. What came out were a bunch of stories about my childhood and they were all related to faith, so it turned out to kind of be a faith memoir… Even though I started with wanting to write a book, I wasn’t sure this was going to be the book. I was just having fun with this and since I liked doing it I wanted to keep doing it.”