I call the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing my “guilty pleasure.” What could be better than spending three days surrounded by people who love to read, have a passion to write and like nothing more than talking about both?


An early morning workshop at the Festival of Faith and Writing.

My fifth Festival experience is awash with nostalgia as I hike back and forth across the beautiful Calvin College campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here is where my oldest son acquired a college degree and found the love of his life. Eight years ago, when he was a junior at Calvin and engaged to his lovely wife, I signed up for the Festival. I had no idea what to expect, and I spent the weekend in awe of the esteemed authors who were willing to share their writing lives with me, a former newspaper reporter with dreams of writing a novel, essays, anything but a news story.

This morning, I sit in the beautiful Calvin Seminary Chapel with three published authors talking about “What Fiction Can Do”. Later I’ll find my way to workshops on writing about faith, food and failure. I’ll listen in on an interview with writer Rachel Held Evans, and tonight I’ll hear novelist, non-fiction writer and political activist Anne Lamott talk about “Meaning, Hope and Repair”. Sigh……

Some nuggets from this morning’s fiction workshop:

“Fiction is an opportunity to give language to longings.” — Author and pastor Sharon Garlough Brown.

“When I’m writing, I’m living on a higher plane. I’m happier when I’m writing….by writing I put order in the world.”” — Canadian novelist Hugh Cook.

“Fiction is a lie that tells the truth.”

“See it, feel it and write it.” — Author and book store owner Tracy Groot.

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself.” —¬†Harper Lee quoted by Hugh Cook.




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