For a quarter century, Steve Sherwood has been part of TCU’s William L. Adams Center for Writing, a program he helped create and a place where he helps others become better writers.
“Everybody struggles with writing because it is difficult,” he said. “The idea that was in your head comes out differently when you put it on paper. We’re groping at meaning. We’re grasping at meaning that’s not fully formed yet.”
A former staff writer and editor for the The Ranger, a newspaper in Riverton, Wyo., Sherwood also concocted a mystery novel based on his experiences near the Wind River Mountains. His novel, Hardwater, won a George Garrett Fiction Prize.
“You set out to be a best-selling author, and you win a small literary prize,” he said. “It’s all good.”
Though far removed from the Wind River Mountains, Sherwood said nature still energizes him. Occasionally, he gets a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk from his office window overlooking the treetops. This view, he said, is the best on campus.
His parents’ love for literature helped fuel his own, Sherwood said. When he is not helping students and faculty improve their writing, Sherwood is crafting yet another novel, No Asylum. He lopped off 40 of its pages recently, he said.
Yet another book, Field Guide: Tales from the New West, is also in the works, he said.
“Cutting is really the key in a lot of cases,” he said. “Make sure everything is worth keeping.”
Writing early is also a good idea, Sherwood said. He recalled when he would begin a writing project the night before it was due.
One night, he said he had to write three.
“I suffered immensely for it,” he said. “You can’t do that and succeed.”
The Center for Writing, located at 419 Reed Hall, utilizes peer writing consultants and writing associates who offer help with essays, research papers, dissertations, manuscripts, resumes and more. Teacher resources are also available.
Associate Professor of East Asian Religions Mark Dennis said he sends his students to the Center for Writing for guidance from a writing associate.
“I require that they go,” he said. ”It is an effective way to help them improve their writing,”
Dennis said Sherwood sometimes helps him with his writing and recently looked over an 11,000-word article Dennis wrote about comparing Buddhist texts.
“He’s very generous with his time,” Dennis said.
Wendy Williams, visiting lecturer for the John V. Roach Honors College, said she agrees.
“He helped me with every single chapter of my dissertation when I was a student,” she said.
Williams said having the opinion of other readers with different perspectives is helpful.
“He is really good at what he does, and he truly cares,” she said.
Sherwood said writers become attuned to small details, and the pursuit of excellence is, in some ways, its own reward.
“You’re never done. You’re never good enough,” Sherwood said. “You’re always in a process of growing.”
The Center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also has an annex in the Mary Couts Burnett Library that is open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is open Sunday through Thursday in the fall and spring. Appointments can be made online and walk-ins are permitted if time allows. Documents can also be submitted for review via the online writing lab.