Festival of Faith and Writing (#ffwg) Brain Dump

 

Here’s a collection of quotes and impressions that struck me during the writers’ conference last week. More quotes than these struck me, to the point that the beat down tired me out and I stopped taking notes. Here are the blows I managed to record.

If you attended, I’d love it if you added yours in the comments sections. If you didn’t, I’d love to hear your reaction to these:

  • “Story gives us more to be human with.” –Gary Schmidt
  • ” Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind.”–quoted from A Man for All Seasons.
  • Gary Schmidt noted at the end of Namaan’s narrative, he asked the prophet if he was allowed to return to work and worship in the pagan temple of his people. Schmidt said this points to the complexity of life. To make things more complex, the prophet didn’t prescribe an answer and simply told him to go in peace.
  • I wonder, do some introverts instigate skirmishes to avoid having to make their own conversation. By “some introverts”, I mean me.
  • Marylinne Robinson spoke on fear, faith and writing. Some quotes:
    • “There’s a fear we cannot write about that which is closest to us.”
    • “The claiming of a religious identity is often more valued than the practice of that religion.”
    • “People will be gracious to religious expression if that expression is gracious to them. If we weren’t shadow boxing with the world, we’d be better off.”
    • “Our anxieties create smaller versions of ourselves.”
    • “Fear is  a stimulant. It’s addictive. It normalizes itself. We believe our fear gives us a hidden knowledge.”
    • “By historical standards, we have lower levels of threat than other generations. But we choose to live in psycho-social bomb shelters.”
    • “Patriotic enmity: We have the majority of the people who are different than us.”
    • “There’s a strength and elegance in showing restraint and grace with toward those with whom we disagree.”
  • Hmmm, Robinson is by far my favorite living Calvinist. I wish she were the face of the movement.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer spoke about curiosity:
    • In Jewish education, one never studies alone. At least in pairs so you have someone to poke holes in your arguments and push you to explore harder.
    • “Dread and anxiety point us in the right direction.”
    • “Curiosity and fear are connected.”
    • “The difference between curiosity and information is vulnerability.”
    • “Every answer should provoke more curiosity.”
  • “Vocation is when the gladness of the soul meets the world’s greatest needs.” Fredrick Beauchner quoted by Francisco Stork.
  • “Writing Technique is secondary to integrity.” — Stork
  • Toss live chickens
  • When you write, start by building a fully bodied character. Only then confront that character with a problem and see what happens.– Stork
  • “A pencil disappears with use, and so does a good artist.” –Foer
  • “The older I get the more I thing there is nothing that shouldn’t be talked about.” –Foer
  • “I am interested in a religion that makes like harder not easier.” Foer
  • “Memoir writing is the act of giving power to the powerless.” — Katie Braestrup
  • “Suffering, by itself, is not wisdom.”– Braestrup
  • Debra Dean was delightful and I couldn’t bring myself to take one note. The Madonna’s of Lenningrad is on my reading list.