2.21.2013

Found: Notes from the Festival of Faith and Writing

I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College last April. It was awesome. (So were the two mugs I brought home, though they are but plain green mugs thanks to the dishwasher scouring away the logo.)

Last week I opened up the document into which I had dumped all my notes. It is full of gems. I didn't take notes at all of the sessions I attended, including at least one that I liked and one that I didn't. 

(There was one speaker I disliked so much I tried to leave, but was thwarted when I realized I'd left my much-needed umbrella behind. I won't tell you who it was because the internet looooooves her.)

So, this is the unredacted file. Parts of it read like a found poem, with a small interlude about marketing in the middle. The only thing I did was scan through and bold a couple of my very favorite lines. Enjoy. :)

***

Jana Reiss - memoir is cheaper than therapy

Wanting to be liked. Flunking sainthood - breezy, funny, familiar. Book defines her as author. Just because we write/publish doesn't mean anyone will read it.

Problem: lots of icky stuff that's not in the book. Have the right to tell story, leave things out because people wouldnt have liked. Sometimes not good mother, daughter, friend.

2. Wanting to be private. Readerly whoredoms. Ricki lake's brand new memoir. Privacy appropriateness? Porous boundaries. Suitable vulnerability, TMI. Self absorbed, obsessed with weight, etc. all about her transcendent moment. Skeptical, irritable. Narcissism is troubling.

Easier to write about friends than family. Memoirists who exploit children's stories. Ayelet waldman. Don't write about children. Have to apply for jobs someday. What to reveal, retain. Power is yours.

3. Wanting the power to define myself. Weave protective cocoon around particular stories. Religious minority. Her decision not to include Mormon story. Culture gives us inner script. Chance to see how others have negotiated problems of self awareness and how life should be experienced. What story will you tell about yourself?

4. Wanting to be good. Want so badly to be the writer on paper that I am on my own head. Literary perspective, not strong. Derivative concept, unimaginative structure. See problems, but best you can do.

Ann pachet - the getaway car. In her head her novels are beautiful. All she has to do and sit down and write them... Act of unbearable courage to write a book. Especially a flawed book. Writing & spirituality - lifelong processes. Moving through repeated failure.

Lauren Winner - it turns out the Christian story is a good story in which to fail.

All that I hope to say in books is that I love the world. - eB white.

Platform. Not begging for attention, but making yourself visible. How can you use platform to woo media. Social media. Yes, need online presence. Has immense value. Personal brand. Traditional media still important, but social media builds brand. Blogging good place to start. Frequent regular interesting. Writing. Jump at any opportunity to expose you to new readers. Bylines that include links to your blog. Huffington post?? Ebooks. Patton Dodd patheos. Speaking engagements. Call libraries. Build,network of contacts.

Excerpt in TYCWP newsletter??

Don't turn down media.

Ubiquitous without overexposing yourself.

Donald miller. Word of mouth success. Networking and emailing.

Five reasons for social media. Build your platform. I have this many fans/followers. Ridiculously powerful means of communication. Make connections that can lead to further opportunities. Look at the analytics. Get a feel for what works and doesn't. If you're relaxed can be very fun.

Please be a normal person. Don't be car salesman. Be who you are. Don't be creepy weirdo stalker.

It's not about being an obnoxious self supporter. Offering good things on a consistent basis. One of those good things is info about your book. Be faithful getting the word out. Remember that it's a conversation.

Best practices. Blog - consistent quality content. Give people a reason to keep coming back. Interesting, informative, helpful, clear. Have a voice. Stick to overall content. Create a schedule that works for you. Overall message. Don't get crazy with the navigation. Straightforward tabs. Hve links to other social media links. Blog roll contextualizes.

I want to be a person who is being excellent to the people in my life. Jennifer Grant.

Brian Doyle - without stories we are mammals with weapons. quotidiana.org Merit badge essay book

More comfortable with creative nonfiction. Essay is mode of thinking. Travel writing, nature writing, memoir writing - any can be written as essay if writer is not only interested in creating a scene but thinking about it. Author shows and tells. Creative writing cautions against telling but essays we make meaning of experience. In interesting ways. No cliches. Deeper meaning.

Naked form, unmannered, unfiltered. Us, our voice, as naked on the page as you can get it. "I'll tell you a story." Immediacy.

At least what the essayist wanted to present of themselves. Turn to the essay to relax. Speak on the page. Essay is natural water course.

Stunt essay? Have to have extraordinary experience to tell? General reader buys book that is shocking.

Perhaps we should fail more and be willing to own up to it.

"other than your lesbian heroin period" Brian doyle is hilarious.

There is nothing ordinary. If you pay close attention = extraordinary.

The world is everywhere whispering essays.

Little tiny thing - its not tiny. Love and pain there.

Tiptoes closer to daily holiness. Amalgamation energy that other forms don't have. Normal to leap from here to there. Bobcats sex suicide oak trees.

One things tumbles out after another and the mind is focused on the theme. - pm Experiences sought and some that come to you.

Start. Start. And be surprised. Brian d. People don't talk in little fascist sentences. Writes the way people talk. It's fun to write. Take it out for a spin play games with language. 9year old kid who will never leave. Is this allowed? This didn't exist before. Voice and playfulness cadence and rhythm.

We get trapped in the prison of our dignity.

War prayer. Shooting an elephant. Flannery oconnor king of the birds. New years eve. Charles lamb. Going on journey. Dissertation on a roast pig. A piece of chalk. Chesterton. Goofy transitions Listen to others. Essays don't have to be about you. Relentless curiosity.

Craig Barnes. Fundamental confusion about who pastor is, what pastor supposed to be doing. Consumerist culture. Pastor opens own soul to others. Vow to love the congregation. Carrying these people in your heart and soul while at the same time you are even more attentive to the presence of God. Heart and soul a crucible in which ordinary and holy words mix together. In tht mix pastors find their... Exegesis of text and congregation. Local pastor is most influential preacher. Be in the line where people stop and tarry and tell you what they are anxious about.

Do more than just service complaints: look beneath the surface.

Major poets do not live balanced lives. Obsessed with a few lines of poetry that last for eternity. Minor poets inculcate the truths of the major poets into the lives of people.

Maybe last person in the congregation who believes that words have the power to change lives.

Exegesis of media. When did sadness become cool enough to sell bluejeans? J crew catalog models. That is not a value neutral image. Shaping youth. Dare not assimilate despair because it is stylish. I believe that despair is a bad, bad idea. Be in afraid to go to the places despair is lurking.

Marilynne Robinson Calvinists fear God and nothing else. Didn't get the memo about liberals in public universities with their conspiracy - same remark as Jana Reiss about Mormons.

Here we are huddled in these psychoemotional bomb shelters.

Historically dangerous for culture to believe it is in decline.

The carapace of legal protection has been swept away and we are returning to vigilanteeism.

Preemptive grace?



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