Monday, March 18, 2013

Some Thoughts on Write 2 Ignite

What an incredible weekend in Tigerville, on the campus of Northern Greeneville University. It was lovely to reconnect with writing friends and I especially enjoyed rooming with Joyce Moyer Hostetter, a writer of beautiful historical nonfiction, whose workshops I had the privilege of attending last year. This year, because I was teaching, no such luck. But there was time to visit in the evening and during lunch. I don't have much to say about the other presenters because I was either busy teaching, critiquing, or just having some downtime, but let me say that everybody -- editors, agents, authors -- was unstinting of their time and encouraging. Faculty and students had plenty of time to mix and mingle.

Note: As promised, I have my updated handouts on Magazine and Nonfiction writing here. I hope you will find them useful. I had such an enthusiastic group of attendees and grateful that so many of them considered writing nonfiction. Thanks to my first grade friends who shared their handmade nonfiction books at the conference.

Write 2 Ignite is the only children's writing conference that is focused on bringing the Gospel of Christ to children. Many people might assume it's about writing devotionals or religious materials only, but it is so much more than that. It's about learning to write good stories that have the Christian worldview integrated into the stories. Children want good stories! They can go to church for the preaching. I had the opportunity to critique several manuscripts and was so impressed with the quality and content of the writing. It made my happy because I believe that as Christians, we ought to be held to a higher standard.
I was bowled over by the praise and worship led by Donna Earnhardt. If you look at her bio, she says she longs to bring people to the throne of God so that they may worship Him with abandon. And it is evident. Beautiful, heartfelt music to stir the soul. I went to sleep and woke up with the words of offering: All I am, is all I have ...
I’m hoping to return next year with a couple of teenagers for their fabulous teen track. My prayer is for this conference to grow, so that we may learn to spread the Gospel with our stories, overtly or covertly.

I decided to spend an extra night to rest and recover from the long day, and made plans to attend Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Greeneville. I was richly rewarded with a High Mass. It will always be a sacrifice, the priest leading us all to Calvary. When I saw the rich vestments, smelled the incense, listened to the beautiful Gregorian chant, I remembered the alabaster box song ... and it makes perfect sense to have all this richness and beauty poured out in worship. For the priest is in persona Christi ...
We used St. Campion missals and I had the good fortune to meet the owners of St. Benedict's Catholic Bookstore who were willing to sell me a copy. After Mass, we had a lovely visit and now I have my own beautiful copy. I love this missal -- it's got bigger print than the 1962 missal, and has several Masses along with hymns in the back.
It was a long drive, but I had my music, rosary and Gospel of John to keep me company. I love it because it's different *hearing* the Word of God than when I read It. And it makes me wonder whether I, too, would be unbelieving if Jesus said those words to me today in the flesh ... about being the Son of God, elevating Himself to the Father, about being the Living Bread from heaven. How blasphemous! C.S. Lewis writes eloquently in Mere Christianity, that either Jesus was a liar, a madman, or God.
I've rambled enough ... it's hard to believe how quickly this Lenten season is passing. It's been filled with joy and sorrow, peace and anxiety, but always my heart is full of thanks to God.


Faith E. Hough said...

Thanks for sharing your experience here. It's wonderful, even secondhand. :)
I have "Healing Waters" by Joyce Moyer Hostetter on the stand by my bed right now. I had checked it out from the library several weeks ago but never had time to pick it up, so it went into the "Return" bag...but before I had a chance to make it to the library, Mark picked it up and said, "Wow, you need to renew this and read it--this is really good writing." So it's next up. :) I didn't realize you knew her, so now it seems like more than a coincidence!

Becky Shillington said...

This sounds like a wonderful, wonderful weekend, Vijaya! Thanks for sharing--I really hope to make it next year!

Vijaya said...

Faith, you will enjoy Healing Waters. It paints a vivid picture of life on Molokai -- the despair, the joy -- and above all, grace. And Joyce is a beautiful writer.

Becky, are you in the Carolinas? I hope you will be able to make it as well. People from much longer distances come to this conference because it's the only Christian conference focused on children's literature. The ladies who run it are very organized. It goes smoothly and is a lot of fun, and I especially appreciate that everybody makes an effort to welcome the newcomer ...

Anonymous said...

Vijaya - you put into words what I have not yet been able to about the w2i conference. I was blessed beyond words by the sweetness of the Holy Spirit this weekend in and through all the editors, agents and workshop presenters! And thank you for your sweet words about worship! The Lord was there... and brought it all together. I couldn't sing at one point because there was such a sweet outpouring going on! To hear all the voices worshiping and blending so beautifully together? Wow. Just blew me away.

The First Pages time helped me a lot. I heard so many comments about cutting out the "throat clearing" and realized how much I needed to cut in my own stories!

Also, I heard nothing but good stuff about your workshops! I hope you'll present again another year.
And of course, we'll need to hang out then, too. Cause, you know, it just has to happen. It's our thing. :)

Hugs, my friend! and Happy Easter!

Christina Farley said...

Thank you for sharing your insights. I love how you are really finding ways to deepen your life. This is so exciting!

Vijaya said...

Donna, we'll always be the pina-colada!!!

Christina, it's been wonderful.