Last weekend I attended the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing for the third time in approximately eight years–and it was, as always, an incredible event.
This trip was made even more wonderful because I was able to spend a little more time with my writers’ group. (A shout out to group members Shayne Moore, Caryn Rivadeneira, and Tracey Bianchi for giving a wonderful presentation on . . . writers’ groups!)
I was also able to chat with, and learn from, Chad Allen, Editorial Director at Baker Books, and Lil Copan, Senior Editor at Paraclete Press. And then there was a long longed-for lunch with my friend, the amazing writer, Amy Timberlake. Plus, an all-around lovely time with my comrade in car and on foot and through talks, Pastor Sherrie Lowly.
So . . . a good, rich time.
Then I came home and had surgery for my deviated septum. “Good” and “rich” are not exactly words I would apply to this experience. I’ll spare you the gory details; suffice it to say: I’m flat on my back with splints up my nose. I keep thinking of Proust . . . didn’t he write on his back and bed? I keep wishing for madeleines dipped in tea, but there are only rice cakes, and somehow, with my throat so sore, these just don’t do the trick. Nor does the Vicaden. The books aren’t working either; nor are the dvds I checked out from the library.
What I have instead is the little red book I took to the Conference–the inside and cover all scrawled with notes. I may not feel inspired personally right now—where is a madeleine when you need one—but I can, with my limited focus, remember that others are inspired and inspiring, or were, last weekend, and some day soon will be again.
And so, in honor of this blogging community, here’s my memory of what the poet Scott Cairns said, speaking on recovering the body, and the Body, as writers, as community, as Christians (in fact Scott suggested that the major danger lurking in our culture is that there are so many “severed members,” isolated from the Body, and until we are all reconnected, the whole Body suffers):
“Writers write to see what they had not apprehended before . . . our vocation is a way of knowing, of glimpsing the enormity of what we had not understood.”
And then there was this gem on writing from the essayist Scott Russell Sanders: “Take away the confusion (on the level of craft), so readers can focus on the mystery (of the piece).”
And finally, though there was so more, this from Parker Palmer, who talked about the value of being simply curious: “What lies around the next bend of words . . writing is a way of thinking and feeling my way into what baffles me.”
And, oh, look! I found this, too, in my little red book–the quote Parker Palmer shared, from Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom it [writing] is more difficult than it is for others.”
We are all rewriters, Parker Palmer and Mary Karr both said.
If not a madeleine, a little bit of protein, to keep me healing on this day.