Today’s special guest is: Timothy Fountain
I think you will enjoy Tim’s insights into a writer’s motivation to put pen to paper. He and his wife take care of an autistic son and lessons learned have turned into a book, Blooming Idiots to encourage caregivers which will be out in a month. As I have friends and family with autistic members and have worked in a special education classroom, I’m very excited about his book. If you know someone who has a family member on the autism spectrum, please share this blog. Here’s his story:
Tim, thanks for visiting my blog. Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California despite having no football skills. After a stint running a jackhammer and then three years in the Army, I abandoned thoughts of a legal career, attended a seminary in New York City, and devoted almost thirty years to Christian preaching. I met my wife of 26 years, Melissa, in church. We have two sons, the elder a Naval officer and the younger a lad with autism. We moved to South Dakota in 2004. I lead a life of trial and error as a husband, dad, family caregiver, preacher and blogger. And, come August, a published author.
I attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in 2010. From that came an inspiration to write a book of encouragement for the 65 million Americans who, like my wife and I, are amateur, learn-as-we-go caregivers to chronically ill, disabled or aging loved ones. A few years later, I ran the idea and some sample chapters by Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. They will publish the book, Blooming Idiots, this August.
For you is writing a passion, a calling, or both?
Both and more. It is what I would want to spend my best hours doing if paying bills wasn’t a necessity. I’m filled with gratitude to God when the time is available, and when the words have come together.
Writing is a way in which I process and clarify my own thoughts and emotions, and try to distill what I’ve received in prayer and Bible reading. I think of the passion of the Prophet Jeremiah, who felt like a “fire was shut up in his bones” and had to come out as the Word of God to the people. And I think of the calling of the Apostle Paul, who “delivered what he received” to people that Christ was calling as his own.
Writing is a cross-shaped intersection of struggle and joy. There’s the need to wrestle with my own limitations like impatience and the intrusion of my own ego in place of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and that’s painful. But there’s great joy when a piece emerges that glorifies God and blesses people with Christ’s good news.
What was your journey to publication like?
Because I was writing about family caregiving while actually caring for a son with special needs, the journey was fits and starts. Blooming Idiots took six years from inspiration to publication, but not all of that time was a writing grind. More of it was living out what would here and there turn into a chapter.
Do you have any favorite books on the writing craft?
Stephen King’s On Writing is rich with encouragement as well as insights into craft. I often share his story about moving from a nail to a railroad spike to hang all of the early rejection notices he received.
Gregory the Great’s Homilies on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel is not an easy read, and is really about preaching, but it is full of useful insights about the struggle to turn spiritual insight into human communication. He says that a preacher, and I would add a Christian writer, is like someone who witnesses an amazing blaze, turns around to portray it to others, and can give off only puny sparks. We have to keep at it just the same, stoking our craft into full flame.
Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer is a great resource, especially helpful for overcoming the things that stop us from exercising our craft.
Do you have a publishing secret you’d like to share with other writers?
Be thankful for editors’ insights and corrections. My first pieces in print were op/eds in newspapers, and by God’s grace I understood the changes the editorial staff made in them. Say “thank you” and acknowledge the ways that these folks get rid of distractions, digressions, and words that tickle our own egos but detract from the message that can bless our readers.
Share with us the most meaningful truth you hope your readers glean from your writing.
That Jesus lives and reaches out to help those who are struggling and failing.
Where can we find you on the web?
My wife and I blog at Sometimes Care Giving Stinks, https://caregivingstinks.wordpress.com/ . We have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SometimesCareGivingStinks/ I Tweet @NPASDK
Please give us a summary of Blooming Idiots
When autism became part of our family, our amateur status as caregivers felt like our trial and error efforts at gardening. Outcomes were seldom what we hoped. But with love, spiritual insight and some humor drawn from our yard work we found inspiration and encouragement to raise our special needs son. We hope that Blooming Idiots shares this in ways helpful to other caregivers. The title comes from this thought: “Caregivers are ‘Blooming Idiots’ who tend and nurture while being sliced and diced by thorns. Beauty grows no other way.
Nan Jones says
Carol, this is a great interview. I have come to know Tim and his wife, Melissa, through social media. Melissa and I call each other “my faraway friend”. These two live in the real world of caring for a special needs child and all that comes with it – judgment from others, discouragement, inspiration, thankfulness in the small things, and laughter … lots of laughter. Tim, I’m so excited about your new book. Let me know how I can help when the time comes.