My friend Kelley Nikondeha recently asked me and the members of our writing group what we were going to be reading in transit to the Festival of Faith and Writing. Since I'm going to be driving with a friend, my travel reading will be limited. But I am ashamed to admit that, as a reader and writer who is usually in the midst of more than one book, I haven't been reading as much lately.
I spent a lot of my emotional energy working on a book proposal for the FFW so afterwards, I couldn't read anything for a week or so. In my normal, non-festival life, I am a very emotional reader anyway. If I'm feeling insecure about my own writing, it's hard for me to read writing that is similar to my own. There are also certain subjects that spark my anxiety so when my anxiety is high, even something seemingly innocuous can be a trigger. That's when I turn to very happy television shows on hulu.
Fortunately, I just picked up the last YA novel in a fantasy series I've been reading from the library called Winter from the Lunar Chronicles. It will satisfy my requirements perfectly: it has nothing to do with my own writing, there are no triggers, it's an entertaining book to keep me company while waiting in the airport to pick up a friend in Grand Rapids, it's something to read at night if I can't sleep, and it might relax me in between my attempts at the gauntlet of editors/journals/publishers in the Exhibition hall.*
I'm so excited to be seeing some old friends and to be meeting some new online writer friends at the Festival. And the panel/session line-up looks fabulous. Here are a few I'm looking forward to:
Thursday at 1:45pm
LESLIE LEYLAND FIELDS, LUCI SHAW, JEANNE MURRAY WALKER, SARA ZARR are speaking about "various seasons in their careers and also looking ahead. Themes include following one’s dreams, loneliness and persistence, the struggle to carve out room to write amidst family and job pressures, and the spiritual depth that can arise from waiting."
Thursday at 4:30pm
My friend D.L. MAYFIELD is on a panel with CHRIS HOKE (who wrote my favorite book of the year, Wanted) and DENNIS COVINGTON. Even though they are talking about how they have struggled with representing Others from a place of privilege, as I work on my own manuscript- a journey through intentional community, grief, and the Christian Mystics-I am very aware of how I represent my brothers and sisters in community. How do I tell the truth of my own experience without misrepresenting or hurting those around me?
Friday at 8:30am
I can't decide between three sessions:
1. Poets on Motherhood and Faith with SUSANNA CHILDRESS, BARBARA CROOKER, TANIA RUNYAN, ANYA SILVER
2. Prophetic Writing: Constructive Challenge or Total Turn-off? with AUSTIN CHANNING, AIDEN ENNS, DREW G. I. HART
3. How Chronic Conditions Challenge and Enrich the Writing Life with DANIEL BOWMAN, JR., ELLEN PAINTER DOLLAR, and JESSICA MESMAN GRIFFITH
Saturday at 2pm
Another tricky one as there are two sessions I want to see.
1. CHRIS HOKE speaking on mysticism, imagery, and lockdown spaces
2. CHRISTIE PURIFOY (along with SARAH BESSEY, CHRISTIE PURIFOY, PRESTON YANCEY, ADDIE ZIERMAN) in a panel about writing in an age of social media
Saturday at 3:30pm
My friend AMY PETERSON along with DANIEL BOWMAN JR. and will be talking about writing in community.
There are so many other speakers I'd like to hear like Ed Cyzewski, Gisela Krelinger, Kate Shellnutt, Mallory Ortberg, Caroline Langston, Bryan Bliss, and Christian Wiman. There is too much goodness!
What is your in transit reading? What sessions are you excited about?
*In order to appear more refined to any other writers, readers, or editors/publishers/agents, I might be hiding behind some smart-looking books. So if it looks like I'm reading a book about Christian Mystics, don’t be deceived. I am really reading my fantasy novel in the corner, gathering courage. Come and visit if you need a little courage too.