Every other year, this wonderful, magical gathering of writers happens in a beautiful town called Grand Rapids, Michigan. This Festival of Faith & Writing brings some of our favorite authors together with those of us who enjoy trying to put our souls on paper.
It is a chance for me to think about writing, to hear the writing of others, and to set aside the distractions of every day life. I enjoy spending time with old friends and making new ones. I like the diversity of spending one session listening to a woman who lost her parents to a bear attack in Alaska and the next one hearing from a graphic novelist who authored a book on China's Boxer Rebellion.
All in all - this conference is nurturing to my soul and mind and heart, urging us to just do it: write.
A few of my takeaways:
1) Precision in language helps us see and touch, feel and communicate. Good writers pay attention to details. Thanks for the lesson, Brett Lott.
2) Part of our task as writers and believers is just showing up (Anne Lamott). Show up for church. Show up to write. Show up to care. From Anne I also learned to go ahead and buy stronger reading glasses when needed - don't hold out for a full year!
3) We must guard our right to speak and think and have a voice. Memory is vital to our society. (The Giver)
4) To write memoir, we must often push on the bruise (Shannon Polson).
5) Honesty is everything. But, consider who you might hurt in the process. Weight the costs.
6) Write brutally honest drafts - even if they are only for you, yourself, to see and read. Get the truth out there - and then rewrite.
7) Everybody, even Anne Lamott, has trouble staying in her seat and writing.
8) The church needs to be willing to ask the hard questions. Sometimes we hold on to our beliefs so tightly our fingernails leave imprints on our hands. Rachel Held Evans.
9) You will never be able to research enough to feel capable and confident. Gene Luan Yang
10) Stop hitting the snooze button and live this one precious life. Anne Lamott
And, when you're not absorbing this type of writerly wisdom, you can head over to streets named Lake and Wealthy and Cherry and eat sushi and baked goods and veggie meals and take in a shop or two!