Home now from the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW), I'm going to try and pick some pearls from the week to share here. This is a hard task considering that the three days were the equivalent of a long triple strand of the finest quality natural pearls of highest luster. How to choose only a few pearls to highlight? I'll start with one from most of the talks or panels I attended.
Tobias Wolff: "Is it possible to have certainty without arrogance or blindness? Without harm to others?"
Dani Shapiro: "Insist that suffering not be meaningless." Writing is a way to do that.
David Kim: We must do whatever we can to "counter atrophy of the imagination." The role of the arts is to "cultivate the imagination." He suggests reading through the Biblical narrative twice a year in order to shape the imagination. "Scripture is so wildly imaginative!"
Zadie Smith: Refuse to be a brand, to be a product, to slip seamlessly into capital.
Erik Lokkesmoe: Signs of life – truth, beauty, goodness – are everywhere!
George Saunders: "I imagine my reader so close and lovingly that she is practically bonded at my shoulder."
Hannah Notess: "Put energy into things that are worth it."
Caroline Langston: "Literary achievement is about spiritual practice."
Paul Harding: After being a drummer in a rock band failed when he was in his 30s, he took a 2-week writing course at a local university. Marilynne Robinson walked in and started teaching and it hit him: "This is the life I want for my mind." His life was never the same. (I love that story.)
There's more that could be said. Much more. This doesn't capture much and certainly not what I learned from conversations or the simple but profound excitement of ideas buzzing all around.
If you also were at FFW, please join me and add a pearl of your own in the comments or feel free to post a link to something you wrote about it elsewhere.
[Photo: taken of FFW program, which you can take a look at here.]