No one was around when my friend dropped me off at home yesterday after the long drive from Grand Rapids. My family was at a soccer match. The house was empty.I dropped my suitcase not far from the back door.Got a drink of water.Climbed up the stairs to my bedroom.Flipped back the covers (The Belgian Wonder had made the bed, people–am I not blessed?) and flopped onto the bed.I slept.When I awoke an hour later, I wondered, Was the Festival of Faith & Writing just a dream? As I threw a load of laundry in the washer and scrubbed the bathroom sinks, I thought about the people I met.Except for my actual acquaintances and friends–Brent Bill, L., and Jim Poole, for example–I doubt if the people in the photos that I posted yesterday will remember me personally. They were simply gracious enough to pose for a snapshot with an admiring fan. Elizabeth Berg probably didn’t even realize I was leaning next to her. She was appropriately focused on the person whose book she was signing. She may have been trying to ignore me!The festival high is fading even more this morning, as I was jolted into reentry by a clogged toilet. Nothing as raw and humbling as a clogged toilet to yank a person back to real life. Plunging will ground you.Real life. Where macaroni-and-cheese is dished up, pans are rinsed, and outside, pops of yellow dot the spring-greening yard–I came home to spot the first dandelions of the season.Here, in real life, is where The Boy leaped out of the car, rushed to me, threw out his arms and squeezed me, leaning firmly against my legs for a full minute-and-a-half.Real life is where stories of soccer matches won…and lost…are told and retold. It’s where birthday parties are planned. Where little boys sing bedtime songs with their mothers, and say, “It’s good to be with you again.”I’m home.And it feels like this is all I have left from three days of literary bliss:This stack represents the tiniest fraction of authors who were there. These are only the books that I own or happen to have checked out of the library before I left.Working my way from the bottom of this stack up, I have to assume that Francine Rivers has flown home to California to keep working on whatever book she’s on. Kathleen Norris, whom I couldn’t bring myself to do anything silly around, has likely returned to South Dakota or maybe to New York, to work out the final details on the galleys of her forthcoming book or speak somewhere. Elizabeth Berg is on a mind-boggling book tour, with almost nonstop appearances across the nation. Deb Rienstra, a Calvin professor, may be teaching writing students this morning with renewed enthusiasm for pouring vision into them of writing as art. Phyllis Tickle, according to her website, is at this very moment–even as I type–speaking at The Associated Press Annual Meeting, giving the Keynote Address during their luncheon in Dallas, Texas. Claudia, though she wasn’t a speaker at the Festival (but I had her book to place on the stack) is probably working on the novel she described to us when we were sitting in the comfy chairs. L.L. Barkat (also not a speaker, but I have her book) appears to be back home, processing her experiences and posting them on her blog. And finally, Cindy Crosby, I would assume, is back home being contemplative, finishing up a book she mentioned she was working on.And I’m plunging the toilet.On Mondays, I host Monday FunDay, a carnival dedicated to swapping simple, amusing–maybe even silly–everyday ways you enjoy good, clean fun. I do this so that we don’t all wallow in that “rainy days and Mondays” quagmire.To participate in Monday FunDay, just post a story, idea, or explanation at your blog of how you and/or your family has livened up Mondays (or any day).
Then link up via Mr. Linky below (if you don’t have a blog, simply explain your idea in the comments) and we’ll collect all the ideas in one place. Again, please remember: ideas must be squeaky-clean, family-friendly fun.First, here’s Ann’s Family-Friendly, Post-Festival Monday Fun idea this week:
Do Something Creative Every Day
Shauna Niequist, the perky young author I met on the first day, read an essay from her book Cold Tangerines. In it, she said, “Do something creative every day.”Sometimes it’s good to have someone say this to us. We can say it to ourselves, “I am going to wake up and do something creative today.” But sometimes it’s more effective to hear it from an outside source. It seems more urgent, more important and valuable. When someone else insists, “Do something creative every day,” the investment of time and energy seems worth it. We can take the risk. We can act on it. We can make a list of things we love to do–dance, sing, paint, write–and go do it.A while ago, I posted about digging up and dusting off long-lost creative interests. Perhaps that post, “How the Cuckoo Found Its Voice,” will inspire you to pull out some old cross-stitch kit or tap out a little tune on the dusty piano keys.Or perhaps some words from Shauna will inspire you. I found this lengthy passage typed out on someone else’s blog (thanks, Ashley, whoever you are, for sharing this excerpt):
Art slips past our brains straight into our bellies. It weaves itself into our thoughts and feelings and the open spaces in our souls, and it allows us to live more and say more and feel more. Great art says the things we wished someone would say out loud, the things we wish we could say out loud.It matters, art does, so deeply. It’s one of the noblest things, because it can make us better, and one of the scariest things, because it comes from such a deep place inside of us. There’s nothing scarier than that moment when you sing the song for the very first time, for your roommate or your wife, or when you let someone see the painting, and there are a few very long silent moments when they haven’t yet said what they think of it, and in those few moments, time stops and you quit painting, you quit singing forever, in your head, because it’s so fearful and vulnerable, and then someone says, essentially, thank you and keep going, and your breath releases, and you take back everything you said in your head about never painting again, about never singing again, and at least for that moment, you feel like you did what you came to do, in a cosmic, very big sense.I know that life is busy and hard, and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art that you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.And if, for whatever reason, you’ve stopped — stopped believing in your voice, stopped fighting to find the time — start today. Do that. Do something creative every day, even if you work in a cubicle, even if you have a newborn, even if someone told you a long time ago that you’re not an artist, or you can’t sing, or you have nothing to say. Those people are bad people, and liars, and we hope they develop adult-onset acne really bad. Everyone has something to say. Everyone. Because everyone, every person was made by God, in the image of God. If he is a creator, and in fact he is, then we are creators, and no one, not a bad seventh grade English teacher or a harsh critic or jealous competitor, can take that away from you.So to all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything.Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it.Thank you, and keep going.
Do something creative today. Not only might it be fun, but your efforts make the world, as Shauna says, a little “better, brighter, broader.”Do something creative today, this Monday, and all week.Every day.
Instructions for the WordPress Mr. Linky (which is different than the ones you’ll see on WFMW and other Typepad or Blogspot blogs):1. Write your post. Type up your Monday FunDay edition and post it at your blog.2. Come back to this post and click on Mr. Linky. A window will pop up.3. Type in your name (or blog name) and if you like, you can include a short “teaser” for your idea in parenthesis. Something like this:
Ann K (do something creative)
3. Paste in your url. Below the spot for your name, there’s another for the url of your own post. Copy the url for your own Monday FunDay and paste it in (including the http:// part of it).4. Press Enter. That’s it! It should be saved by Mr. Linky.5. Link back. Please link back to my blog here. It’s nice for people to find their way to home base and see all the fun.To see what others have posted, click on Mr. Linky and pay a visit to the fun bloggers who have joined in!It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how![Check out previous Monday FunDays]