Well, I had grand intentions of writing an essay about the Incarnational movement of words to flesh, how language pours into our living, the beauty of digital friendships culminating in face-to-face hugs and hellos.
But truth be told, I’m pooped. Still catching up on the work that was put on hold two weeks ago for the ever-inspiring Festival of Faith and Writing. And the best I can do right now is bullet points.
The Festival of Faith and Writing is a biannual event hosted at Calvin College, and all I can say is that if you love the Word and words, I can’t recommend a better event or conference for you to attend. This was my third time and it is always soul-stirring, luminous in its art and craft, and enriching in this community of reading and writing folk (some of the best kind, I think).
A few impressions I took home with me:
- The insecurity we often feel as writers is universal. It seems a good 3/4 of the speakers at the Festival began their talks with disclaimers, self-deprecating jokes, apologies for not being capable or poetic or eloquent enough, and then they all continued in their talk and did just fine. Show me a confident writer, and I will show you a sham. We may love what we do, but we always wrestle through it. This is comforting to know that the best of them feel the same.
- The Festival is a rare environment where an author can use “damn” as an adjective in a seminary chapel, and no one will flinch.
- “Writing and spiritual practices are both about rising and failing, over and over.” ~Author and editor Jana Riess, who wrote Flunking Sainthood
- The Festival is a funny place where birds of a feather flock together. Day 1, we creative types get drunk on idea, conversation, and art, complaining about the isolation of writing, and then by day 3, because the creative types are also the introvert types, we all get slightly grumpy and exhausted and caffeine-drained and want to back to our familiar writing nooks at home.
- “Expect to bury something as you create a body of work. You will either have to bury your faith in fear, or you will bury your talents in fear.” ~ Ann Voskamp
- There’s nothing quite like meeting digital friends out of their avatars and face to face.
- I loved Zondervan Editor John Sloan’s description of foreshadowing as “the echo before the sound.”
- Caring for Words author Marilyn Chandler McEntyre urged us to “PLAY with words,” to incorporate play into both the writing and the spiritual life. We don’t have enough of this.
- I’m intensely grateful for great books on the fringes. A publisher, big name endorser, or title hook is not always an indication of a great book, and it’s healthy to widen our reading range.
- Volumes could be written about the parallels between the writing and spiritual life. I am grateful to sit and learn from a community of people who draw connections between the two, who are committed to both.
- It seems that balance is the constant envy of all writers, a quest which never ends. We all feel the tension of keeping the wheels spinning, between writing, living, relationships, and responsibilities. Whether or not this is encouraging to know we’re not alone in this, or downright depressing, the jury is still out.
- Gary Schmidt, Claire Vanderpool, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre and others all talked about the irreplaceable value of teaching children to love books. It teaches children empathy, heightens self-esteem, enhances interpersonal communication, cultivates imagination. I will be afraid of any generation who is not raised to love story.
Fresh on my reading list, thanks to Festival recommendations:
- The Getaway Car by Ann Paggit (which is $2.50 right now on Kindle)
- See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity by Amy Frykholm
- Restoring the Christian Soul by Leann Payne
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
- Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and the Spirit by Luci Shaw
- And many more.
What’s on your shelf or reading list these days?