Memories of the Festival of Faith & Writing are beginning to dim, and you’re probably losing interest in my April literary adventure.But before memories fade altogether, I thought I’d share the last of my notes from a panel discussion featuring Luci Shaw, James Schaap, and Robert Siegel (and no, he is not Robert Siegel, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered; this is Robert Siegel the poet).Forgive me for offering only tidbits; I scribbled as fast as I could with pen on paper. I did my best to keep up by means of antiquated technology (all the while coveting those attendees tapping away on netbooks and Macs), and these are the nuggets I scratched onto the page: Continue reading
The Festival is over. I’ve returned home to laundry and lunches. I’ve also typed e-mails with numerous typos due to the blur of fatigue. Dare I continue the story even though the fun is fading into quotidian reality? I’ll try…let’s see how it goes.After Eugene Peterson’s talk on Friday, my anonymous friend headed off to visit a friend while Leslie Leyland Fields and I walked across campus toward the chapel. I wanted to see Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Tale of Despereaux.I slipped into the room a little late. Kate was in the middle of her message.She quoted Ray Bradbury, that writing requires risk … that it’s “like jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” Kate also read portions of Charlotte’s Web and wove that into her message about writing.“In Charlotte’s Web,” she said, “what saved the pig? Words.”She continued with her own thoughts, like: “The sound of a single voice speaking or singing is capable of lifting someone else off the ground.”On rewriting and editing: “Let the truth that is there reveal itself through the polishing.”And I have the following on a page by itself. I’m pretty sure it’s from Kate:“To look well at the world and to look with your heart is our duty as writers and humans.”When Kate was done, she opened it up to Q&A. My friend Nadyne stood up and thanked Kate so eloquently and passionately that the entire room erupted in applause; Nadyne expressed what we were all thinking with more boldness and love than any of us had the nerve to stand up and say.Kate was whisked away for a book signing, which the entire room seemed determine to attend.I’d brought along Because of Winn Dixie, knowing Kate would be there. Then I bought three more books for her to sign as gifts for my kids. Nadyne was a few people in front of me, getting people to snap pictures of her with Kate. Nadyne stuck around to take a picture of Kate with me, and we got all silly and talked Kate into letting us photograph her boots. Nadyne has some fabulous pictures she’s going to share, so I’ll upload those when they arrive. In the meantime, you’re stuck with my low-quality snapshots. Here I am with Kate DiCamillo:Here’s Kate’s boot. I was too close and too slow to get both the boot and the rest of Kate, so you’ll have to trust me that it is indeed hers:After our antics with Kate, Nadyne and another festival friend named Mary invited me to grab some lunch with them. This photo was taken on a different day, but this is Mary:I went to Luci Shaw’s afternoon session. She said so many great things–poets do that, you know. I only wrote down a few:“We need translators…writers, especially poets, are translators.”And she said she always has with her “something to write on, something to write with, and an open mind.”After Luci, I attended a session with Thomas Lynch. I got to sit right next to Ann Voskamp. He told stories of some old ladies who would stir up discussions on Sunday afternoons at his family’s “festival of faith and language.” He said, “Every time I think I’ve learned something new, it turns out it was something old I’d learned by listening to two old ladies talking at our family festival of faith and language.”And, “There’s a thin line between the sublime and the ridiculous…between that which makes us laugh instead of cry…between the way things are and the way they ought to be…between our will and the will of God.”Thomas Lynch said he was named after a famous doubter from the Bible, who got famous for asking questions. “It’s as if he wondered if Christ is really one of us?…did it really hurt?…did He live through the same kind of suffering as us?”He said, “Want to learn about life? Change diapers…for the young AND for the old.”And, “What relates us to Calvary is not the rays of sunlight bursting forth, but the suffering.”After that session, Ann V. and I wandered toward the book area and saw our friend L.L. Barkat’s book Stone Crossings nicely positioned on the Inter-Varsity Press table. The last Festival is where I met L.L. for the first time other than when our words and gravatars would intersect in a blogger’s comment section. Seeing her book brought a big grin, and a little heartbreak that she wasn’t at the Festival this year:We also ran into Lisa Samson:I was able to thank Lisa on behalf of my daughters (a tween and two teens), who discovered the Hollywood Nobody book series and loved the quirky heroine and her search for self. Hollywood Nobody (Book 1)Finding Hollywood Nobody (Book 2)Romancing Hollywood Nobody (Book 3)Here’s a photo of the two Anns with Lisa (hey, check it out—no ink on my lip!):Ann V. and I had the fun of dinner with the team from David C. Cook, and I finally got to meet my editor, Susan Tjaden, in person!Susan was the one who insisted I cut the manuscript down, down, down. She even plucked out an entire chapter.And she was right on all counts. Not So Fast is a much better book because of her.But I digress.Ann V. and I drove back to campus and ran into several people, including Anita Lustrea of Moody Radio’s Midday Connection.Meeting Anita marks one of the last interactions of the day.The next day was Saturday.The day I suspect I annoyed a portion of the Chrysostom Society, people I’d been waiting to meet for 14 years.The day of the spilled root beer. The day the Festival ended, and I was hit with a wave of melancholy.
Friday morning, Leslie Leyland Fields and I made plans to connect during the morning coffee hour. She was running a little late, so as I stood around the refreshment area, I spotted Keri Wyatt Kent. I explained that I’m chronicling my time at the Festival in photos, so she kindly posed with me.She said she was here with some writer friends. Late Friday night I encountered Keri with Tracey Bianchi who wrote Green Mama (the woman who remembered my book The Contemplative Mom). It was then I discovered she was one of Keri’s writer friends. In that same evening encounter, I met another of Keri’s friends, Shayne Moore, who has a book coming out entitled Global Soccer Mom. She had a really cute elevator pitch, but the details escape me at the moment. Besides, I’m getting ahead of myself. The Keri-Tracey-Shayne meeting didn’t happen until late Friday evening, and I’ve only gotten as far as Friday morning. Leslie hasn’t even shown up yet!I drifted from Keri, who was enjoying coffee with a friend, and spotted Jim Schmotzer again, sitting by the fireplace reading a book. I plopped down next to him and hoped he didn’t mind. He was waiting to talk with Bob Hudson, of Zondervan publishing, whom he knew. I glanced in the direction Jim was indicating, and Bob was chatting with a friend of mine! I didn’t know she was at the conference and hadn’t seen her yet. In the past, she’s preferred to remain anonymous online, so to respect her privacy I’ll show you her face but leave off her name.You can see Jim in the background talking with Bob.Just about then, Leslie arrived.She immediately spotted a Wheaton professor she wanted to talk with named Brett Foster.We all enjoyed a brief conversation about Wheaton and writing, and then Leslie walked with my anonymous friend and me to a session with Eugene Peterson speaking on “Poet and Pastor on Patmos.”A few Peterson quotes:“John was told, ‘Write on a scroll what you see,‘ not what you know or have figured out.”And “write in a way that invites participation.”Also, he told the story about a puppy who wasn’t well trained … it couldn’t sit or stay, but one thing it did very well. As soon as the puppy heard “Fetch!”, it would race off to catch a Frisbee or a stick or a ball. The puppy would enthusiastically return with it and offer it up. Peterson said he was like that puppy. He heard “Fetch!”That’s a little, teeny-tiny bit how I feel at this moment. I went to this Festival and as I type up this part of the review, I feel like I, too, heard “Fetch!” And now I have the privilege of bringing back to you a few thoughts and interactions so that they aren’t mine alone, but yours, too.There’s more to Friday, but because it’s late, I think I’ll stop here. I’ve left a slobbery tennis ball lying at your feet. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll bring back a stick.