Fire Hoses and Groupie Love at Festival of Faith & Writing

I’m at the end of the stellar Festival of Faith & Writing.  And I’m grateful.  For syllables, words, syntax, advice, collaboration.  For listening to master storytellers tell stories, real stories and the stories of how the stories are created.  I’ve thought about social media; I’ve contemplated rhyme; I’ve made a long list of books to read immediately; I’ve met great people.  As I said, I’m grateful.

YET in the attempt to gather in the lessons learned, I’m feeling less than peppy, less than centered, less than me.  And I’m trying to sort out why.  I feel like I ricocheted from building to building for three days, a fire hose propelling me forth with a spray of words to the next venue, the next hour chock-full of wisdom, edgy cleverness and often more content than I could take in.  Overload.

I’m wishing I could have stopped mid-FFW for listening, for prayer with and for others, for contemplation of all that was said, of all that wasn’t said, for worship.

I heard authors speak who were clever, scintillating even, and the audience twitched with twitterers quoting the bons mots as they came flying.  Yet I couldn’t escape a certain sense of sadness permeating some of the speakers beyond the podium. Maybe it was the “Isn’t there more to worship than ME?” sentiment that comes when adoring fans practically wet their pants to be in the same room with a favorite author.

I loved Parker Palmer’s reaction when someone asked him, in a Q&A, about being the “guru of the spirituality of education,” and he practically choked at the idea of being a guru and said he always tried to throw in dumb stuff so no one would count him too wise.  I’m paraphrasing.

I came to FFW asking one main question: “How do I as a writer shepherd a love of words (gift from God that that is), live life with ‘God’s name and renown being the desire of my heart’ and yet focus on the all-important platform-building that insures that writing will find a wider audience?”  I’m still asking.

The speakers I heard who seemed primarily interested in seeking God and responding to His love while shepherding a gift of writing just gave off a different vibe than the ones who seemed largely concerned with how they connected with the audience or with how many people bought their books.  Don’t get me wrong; I got something from all of them.  Every speaker I heard bravely and generously delivered something that fell on the spectrum of helpful to life-changing.  Yet some exuded a franticness to be relevant, edgy, loved, while others exhibited the fruit of the Spirit.

All the groupie love made me tired, though.  It made me want to hole up with God in my decidedly dingy, chlorine-pungent hotel room, even with the tattooed, bikini-ed teens running down the halls.

The fire hoses have sprayed me, shoved me, doused me with torrents and rivulets of words and wonder  and wondering for three days, and when I dry off, I have a lot to think about.

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~ by Cary on April 18, 2010.

3 Responses to “Fire Hoses and Groupie Love at Festival of Faith & Writing”

  1. Touched by this, Cary. Even Christians often “sell out” to the success-and-activities-oriented lifestyle and I really appreciate your ability to be thankful for the good but see so incisively through the bad, even when the bad is as pedestrian as this constant need for validation from the next person or the newest thing or the future event.

    • Thanks, Sarah. It was hard to put my finger on since the festival truly is amazingly good, full of people seeking God as they hone a craft, and I am grateful for all of those generous presenters and all of the earnest and kind folks with great books and/or ideas they’re developing. Still thinking on it!

  2. […] is a talented writer and cool woman.  I met her at the Festival of Faith & Writing this spring.  We drank martinis, talked about books and met a guy who gave us Tater Tot shirts. […]

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