Friday, April 25, 2014

Festival of Faith & Writing Thoughts

I mentioned in a Four Seasons post that I attended The Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. It was a truly remarkable experience. One I hope to repeat in 2016. Now, I don't really think of, or call, myself a writer, so many people asked me why I was attending FFW. The short answer was because Anne Lamott (who does not have a website) will be there.  I'm still processing, but I'm left wondering if maybe there was a bigger reason I wanted to attend.

By the end of the week my brain was full to the brim with thoughts and ideas, my heart was full of God's love and my suitcase was about 15 pounds heavier from all the books I bought. I also had a notebook with 21 pages of notes, full of wisdom. Wisdom not just for the writer, but for anyone interested in living Life.

Wisdom like this from Gene Luen Yang: Art isn't selfish. The art of story gives us a map, telling us how we can organize our life and helping us find our place in the world. And this: Everyone's first experience of story telling is in one's own family. A powerful idea for parents to ponder.

And this from the panel discussion titled “Resisting Speed: The Benefits of Slow Reading” which included Leslie Leyland Fields, C. Christopher Smith, Rachel Marie Stone, and John Wilson: Slow reading is not literally reading slowly, but rather reading with a sense of discernment. In other words, we sit with and become immersed in what we read and let it change us. One interesting tidbit of information from Leslie concerned the number of blogs reported to be currently online. Any guesses on the number? How about 150-200 wonder that rabbit hole is so easy to fall down.

From the panel discussion "Worthy of Attention: Inspiration and the Non-Fiction Writer", I learned from John T. Price that if you survive 7th grade you have enough writing material for the rest of your life. From Christine Byl I learned that we often write what we don't know about what we know. From Peter Marty I learned to look for writing ideas in everything from campus newspapers to the police blotter to wild Las Vegas cab rides.

Finally there were two primary themes threaded throughout the three days: the value of words and the value of silence. Richard J. Foster tells us that words are the best carriers of ideas and that ideas rule the world, therefore words should be revered. A reverence that is only found in silence, in being attentive. Luci Shaw reinforced this idea and urged us to fall in love with words, specific words. Words like enkindled and ponder and attend. Sharon Garlough Brown encouraged us to pause in silence so that we might receive before responding. Anne Lamott calls the silent hour before the world gets to you sacred and precious.

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