WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Frequently I see tweets asking what #WWBC or #MyWANA means. Probably everyone who reads my blogs could give the short answer to that. But what do those terms REALLY mean?
WWBC—Warrior Writers Boot Camp—is a complete departure from the standard critique group where members bring a certain number of pages from whatever they are working on and read them to the group. Kristen Lamb and I were president and vice-president of such a group for several years, and we saw severe shortcomings built into the structure.
Lest I be accused of attacking anyone’s sacred cow, let me assure you that’s not my purpose. The traditional group allowed several writers to come together and share experiences and ideas and lend moral support to one another. For anyone writing five-page articles or poetry or other pieces that could be read in a turn at the group meeting, it also gave valuable feedback to the writer.
The problem Kristen and I saw with our group was that no one could get a real sense of an overall novel from reading five pages. We might give some good critique on grammar or catch spelling errors and typos, but that was about it. We had no idea where the pages you read today fit into your novel or how well the overall novel was structured.
We started Warrior Writers Boot Camp nearly three years ago to correct that problem. Funny thing was, once we started the group, we realized that we didn’t really understand the depth of the problem.
The first thing we figured out was that we didn’t understand what an antagonist was or his or her importance to the story. We thought the most important character was the hero(ine) or protagonist and that the antagonist had to be a serial killer or mass murderer or at least a serial rapist.
As the importance of the antagonist became clearer to us, and we began to see his real nature and crucial importance to the story, other things began to fall in line. With a bit of borrowed wisdom from Bob Mayer, Les Edgerton and others who have written books on the craft of writing, we began to develop a whole series of evolutions for a novelist to go through in preparation for writing a novel.
Ironically, Kristen and I have both become involved in non-fiction projects and blogging and have not actually produced a publishable novel using our format. It has fallen to Piper Bayard to lead the way on that. She has completed a novel which Kristen assures me will be a blockbuster.
We shortened Warrior Writers Boot Camp to WWBC for convenience. I put a hashtag to it some months ago to provide a cyber-gathering place for novelists familiar with our method.
WANA, as most of you know, is an acronym of We Are Not Alone, the title of Kristen’s bestselling book on social media. Once the book began to enjoy wide sales, she made the hashtag #MyWANA as a gathering place for writers who have read one of both of her books or for others who just want to hang with us.
Obviously, the thought behind the book title and the hashtag is that writing tends to be a lonely pursuit and that we can make it a bit less lonely by sharing experiences and just knowing there are others out there going through the same struggles and fighting the same battles we are. But there’s more to it than that.
One of the most famous and most oft-quoted sayings of Jesus Christ is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s important to notice what He did not say here.
Jesus didn’t say, “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” Nor did He say, “Do unto others what will cause them to do something for you.” His was a completely altruistic command.
In following this command, we don’t do a favor for someone else in hopes or in expectation that person will do something for us. That’s called manipulation. We do unto others because they are human beings created by God in His own image.
The more of Jesus’s character I have in me, the more I will love others just because they’re there. Not with any expectations. Just because it’s my nature. I’m sure there are many among you who have the character of Jesus more fully formed in you than I do, but this is one area God has really worked on it me. I do love you because you are a child of God created in His image.
Sounds like a lot of preaching, but that’s the principle Kristen had in mind with WANA. She has said this many times, both in her books and in her blogs: help one another. Period. Don’t help someone in hopes of getting whatever. Just help one another. Period. I know Kristen’s heart well enough to know she truly has no ulterior motives when she tries to help you.
As with God’s principles in general, there’s a bonus when you follow this one. That bonus is the Law of Reciprocity. Buddhists call it Karma. The Law of Reciprocity says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Even though I don’t offer a suggestion here or point out an important fact there with the intention of reward, God sees to it that reward comes to me in some form. It may be directly related to whatever I did and come straight from the person I did it for, or it may be totally unrelated. But God sees to it that it is there.
And that’s the essence of WANA. Help someone with no ulterior motive—just because you want to be helpful—and you can’t keep from benefitting from it in the long run. All of which brings me the little blurb I put at the top of this post.
I ran across this on a sign in a restaurant, and it resonated so powerfully in my spirit I decided to use it as a slogan for my blog. I’ve also suggested to Kristen that she use it somehow as part of the identity of anything she does with WANA.
What do you think of this new slogan? How do you feel about helping others with no thought of personal gain? How have you benefitted from helping other writers without seeking payback?
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.