Robin Grunder is one of the experts for my Write That Book Subscription Group. She will be teaching, guiding and encouraging those who want to write their legacy or another's. You're going to love Robin's story.
My name is Robin Grunder, and I am excited and humbled to be a part of the panel of experts within this group. Here’s a little snippet of my story:
I am an author, ghostwriter, journalist, and conference speaker. But most of my time is spent answering to the name of “mom.”
My husband and I have a blended family of seven adult and teen children. We added a daughter-in-love to our crazy mix, and we recently became first-time grandparents. If you are doing the math, let me help you—it adds up to a lot of laundry, a lot of college tuition, a lot of schedules to juggle, and a lot of time spent on our knees and prayer.
But mostly, it adds up to a lot of love.
My writing roots began almost eighteen years ago with a mom-blog and a local humor column. It was kind of a hobby, kind of a way to keep in touch with friends and family, and kind of a way to use my brain in a way that went beyond diapers, dishes, and dusting.
The first column I wrote opened up a few doors to (gulp) public speaking at area MOPS groups. I wasn’t very good back then (questionable now!), and my first attempt at professionalism in the speaking world involved an incident with fake fingernails and a zipper that wouldn’t zip. It’s a fun story if you’re not me. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.
On the brighter side, I began to receive writing and photo assignments from my local newspaper. I decided I might try and take this writing hobby and learn a little more about it. I attended writers’ conferences and started submitting articles for publications outside of my immediate circle. As it would turn out, I kind of had a knack for this writing thing, particularly when it came to sharing the stories of others.
I won’t bore you with my resumé, but I will tell you that over the years I have accumulated hundreds of writing credits with pieces that appear in blogs, newspapers, regional and national parenting publications, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. I won the “Promising Pen Award” from the Quad Cities Christian Writers’ Conference and have even received a public endorsement (that I wasn’t expecting) from a best-selling author and ghostwriter while I was attending on of his events. I later began to receive ghostwriting referrals from this same author. These projects were small, and none have been been published in book form, but it bumped my confidence in this writing-hobby-turned-profession up a few notches. I may have had to deliver the mail or wait tables while I was building this writing resumé, but I finally had some credentials to show for it.
And then I did one of the most meaningful writing projects I had ever been asked to do. My grandma was taking a life-story writing class at the retirement community where she lived. She mentioned to me that she was overwhelmed with where to start and what to include. She had so many stories that she wanted to share pass on.
I happened to know that she already had a lot of family history written down. My grandma had researched and written about our family and genealogy before the days of internet. I also knew that she and my grandpa had completed a project that my kids and I had given them several years prior called “A Journal in a Jar.” It was a crafty sort of gift where the kids and I had written a number of questions on slips of paper and placed in a decorated mason jar. The instructions that came with this gift were to draw out a slip of paper, write the question at the top of a journal page, and enjoy the memories as they recorded their answers.
We found these journals and a lot of other recorded family history tucked away in a storage box. Grandma had asked me if I could help her compile all of these stories into a document that she could print and give to all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
We worked together on this for almost a year. When I finally had a rough draft of her manuscript complete, I called my dad to see if he wanted to go along with me to present it to her. When dad called me back, he told me that the night before, grandma had fallen asleep in Iowa and woke up in heaven.
Grandma never saw her completed book. But I was able to read in her own words how she wanted to be known and remembered at her funeral just a few days later. Her stories became an instant “best-seller” to the members of her family. She was able to create a connection both now and for generations to come because she wrote her memories, her stories, and her family history.
This project changed me. I saw the power and importance of passing on stories of faith and family history firsthand. I wanted to help others create that same connection to their future generations through writing their life-stories. This can be done in a variety of ways, but he end result is the same:
Today much of my ghostwriting is focused on helping others write for the purpose of leaving a legacy.
I’m also really excited to report that the idea of legacy writing is catching on at writers’ conferences. I’ve taught several workshops in the last couple of years on the importance of writing life and faith stories, not necessarily for the purpose of mass publication, but to leave a spiritual legacy in writing.
Because even if your story never makes it to a best-seller list, it could make heaven look different. And that book is worth writing.
That’s a little bit of my story. Let’s talk more about yours!
You can connect with Robin! Robin will have Office Hours on November 29. You’ll be able to get your questions about legacy writing answered then.