Jul. 6—After years of writing, local author William Thwing's three books, all inspired by his life, have been published by Shires Press Books.
"There's a lot of livin' that went into these books," the Westmont resident said.
From the year he spent in the Vietnam War, to the five years after returning home that he spent traveling the country and Europe, his studies in theological school and the songs he's written since then, Thwing's work covers a wide span of time.
All three books are also told in a non-traditional manner.
After being introduced to and becoming interested in haiku in the mid-2010s, Thwing chose to tell his stories using the ancient Japanese writing style mixed with prose, known as haibun.
He wrote "Vietnam Days," about his time in that war; "Restless Days," chronicling his time after returning; and "Open Your Eyes," a collection of songs, poems and haikus.
"Writing is something that I love to do," Thwing said.
He said he appreciates the haibun approach because of how concise it is.
"I like short," Thwing said.
The author has been writing throughout his life and partially credits his time with the U.S. Army for his admiration for to-the-point correspondence.
'Just loves writing'
Thwing was drafted in the late 1960s and served in the infantry doing intelligence work while in Vietnam which required direct communication.
He said he was there for the Tet Offensive and when he returned to the country he was left to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It took a long time to get myself recovered," Thwing said.
That's why he spent time traveling — logged in "Restless Days" — and following about one year of soul-searching and skiing, the Massachusetts native went back to his roots and enrolled at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts.
While there he connected with a commune and worked to establish similar groups around that area.
During that time period he met his wife, Joy Schrock, who hails from Johnstown.
"He's a wordsmith," Schrock said. "He just loves writing."
'Really loves people'
Finding out her husband's books would be published was a joy for her.
She said she's glad that he can now share his writing and that she relishes his work.
Schrock described Thwing as "the kind of person that would go the extra mile with you."
"Bill is the kind of person that really loves people," she said. "He will get to know you more than you could imagine."
Following their departure from Massachusetts, the couple moved to Alberta, Canada where they'd spend the next 11 years.
Thwing said he enrolled and completed his theological studies in the neighboring country and worked as a pastor.
He and his wife then decided to move back to her hometown in 1985 and relocated to Johnstown.
Since then, Thwing has continued his pastoral work in the city and in 1996 at the First United Church of Life in Ebensburg before retiring in 2009.
It was soon after, when he and Schrock moved to Vermont to lend a hand with their son, that Thwing began his literary career.
He became involved with a church there that sported a poetry group, which Thwing joined as well as other similar groups.
That's where he was introduced to haiku, which he believes "is a tool for changing the world."
Thwing's books can be purchased at www.northshire.com, on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Additionally, he will host a book discussion and signing Aug. 14 at Classic Elements, 345 Main St.