Sunday, August 17, 2014

Flies, Fairy Tales, and Shakespeare


Somebody left the screen door open, and now our house is overrun with flies. I keep killing them with fat insurance envelopes and a TCF Bank flyer printed on sturdy coated stock. I wish I had a fly swatter, but thank gooodness we still live in a world where there's junk mail.


C. Peevie has killed a few flies also, and likes to brag about it. 
Brooke's Brave Little Tailor
He walked out of the bathroom and said, "I just killed another fly."

"Me too," I said. "I added three more notches to my belt this morning."

"You put the notches on your belt?" he asked. "I put them on my knife." I pictured him throwing a Bowie knife and pinning flies to the wall, their tiny legs flailing. 

He is apparently unfamiliar with the Grimm fairy tale, The Brave Little Tailor--so I sent him the link.

"Read it," I told him. "Clearly, your education has been sadly neglected."

"OK," he said. 

We both know he won't. You might want to re-read this clever story, however. It's more entertaining than I remembered.


The flies, however, who understood no German, would not be turned away. 
When he drew it away, and counted, there lay before him no fewer than seven, dead and with their legs stretched out.
His heart wagged with joy like a lamb's tail.


I could go on--but I'll just let you read it for yourself.

There are good reasons to read fairy tales even beyond the fact that they're entertaining.  Albert Einstein is questionably credited with saying, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

Whether he actually said those words or not, the essence of the quote -- that developing the imagination is key to an educated mind -- correlates with his belief that "imagination is more important than knowledge." Others have extolled the value of the imagination for learning, success, and life as well. 


Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night. --Edgar Allan Poe
Imagination rules the world! --Napoleon Bonaparte

You can find dozens of pages of quotes on BrainyQuotes, ThinkExist, and similar sites--but the chain of proper attribution on these sites unreliably begins and ends at "I read it on the Internet!"

I don't know how I got from a fly infestation to Shakespeare, but I leave you with these words from Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream:


Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, 
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt;
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heavne to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Not Yet.

"Made his final transition."

"Crossed the river."

"Passed on/away."

"Went to be with the Lord."

"Departed."

A euphemism is "the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant" (Merriam-Webster). This website offers more than 200 euphemisms for death.

It's still hard, a year and a half later, to say the words, "Aidan died." They stick in my throat like a cinnamon challenge. When I say them, I have to clench my jaw and swallow to hold my facial muscles in place. I don't mind the tears one little bit -- but I hate my lack of control over the ugly, contorted facial expressions of grief.

But I refuse to make this unacceptable death more palatable with euphemism or spiritual platitudes. I don't want anyone to get the impression that there is anything right or OK about the fact that I have to live the rest of my life without seeing, touching, or hearing my son. Aidan, a fourteen-year-old boy on the cusp of manhood, gentle and kind, enthusiastic about learning, funny, quirky nearly to the point of diagnosis--this child died a sudden, harsh death; and we are left with memories, photographs, and flashes of PTSD.

Both C. Peevie and M. Peevie dreamed about Aidan recently; and both of them woke up sobbing into the reality that Aidan is gone. Euphemizing this death does not make it easier. In fact it makes it harder, in a way, by minimizing the harsh reality of our future without him.

I recently attended a funeral where the euphemisms, especially the spiritual ones, were on everyone's lips. There seemed to be a conspiracy to substitute spiritual bromides for real emotion and authentic grief. 

"He's in a better place," they said. "He's still with us; I can feel him."

At one point I offered my condolences to a relative of the deceased. He said, "It's OK. Everything is OK." 

I looked at him in disbelief. 

"No," I said, "It's not OK. Nothing is OK." 

Mr. Peevie echoed my words: "It's NOT OK," he said. 

I saw him two more times that afternoon, and both times he reiterated, "It really is OK."

I realized in retrospect that this was a coping mechanism--but at the time I felt so furious at those words I wanted to have a temper tantrum and say fuck a lot. 

I am still -- almost exactly one year and nine months later -- in the place where every death is Aidan's death, and every funeral is Aidan's funeral. Every grief, every sorrow, every loss is connected to Aidan in a way that I don't really understand. When the grieving relative said, "It's OK", it felt like he was telling me that I should feel that Aidan's death is OK. 

A few days ago the New York Times printed a letter in Philip Galanes' Social Q's column from a woman whose 18-year-old son died a year ago from an undiagnosed heart condition. She said she and her husband 


find it extremely distressing when people we haven't seen in the last year rush up to us at social events to tell us how sorry they are and how they 'just can't imagine' our loss. We know they mean well, but it makes us overwhelmingly sad and ruins festive occasions...What can we do to stop people from launching into their grief for us?

Mr. Galanes suggested a line to divert the conversation--but then took it one step further.


And for the rest of us, hold back, even though our hearts are pure. Sending a condolence note or even an email allows the bereaved to deal with our sympathy in their own time. Let them bring up their loss in conversation, not us.

All of this is very upsetting to me. If I see someone for the first time since Aidan died, I expect and hope that the first words out of their mouths are,"I'm so sorry about Aidan." Because guess what? This is in the front of my mind. All. The. Time. Someone expressing their condolences doesn't make me overwhelmingly sad because I'm already overwhelmingly sad. It doesn't ruin festive occasions because for me, there is already a damper on every occasion, festive or otherwise. We are never without the presence of Aidan's absence.

I find myself avoiding festive occasions not because I dread people bringing up our loss, but because I resent it when people avoid the subject. 

And this whole business of 'let them bring up their loss' is for the birds. I'm sorry, but it is. I will gratefully accept your sympathetic concern and your fond remembrances of my son. But I am not going to hijack the conversation at a social occasion by bringing it up myself. 

The letter writer, of course, gets to deal with her grief in whatever manner feels most helpful and appropriate to her. But please do not take Mr. Galanes' advice about avoiding the one topic that is foremost on the mind of any bereaved person. Say your words of condolence--and then follow her lead. Respect her choice if she says, "Let's talk about this another time." But chances are, she will be grateful you took the risk. For a brief moment, you will have given her a gift, and you will have made her sorrow a mite less lonely.  

Eventually, I hope, I will be able to keep my own grief separate, and allow others the comfort of their own coping mechanisms, rituals, and euphemisms graciously and without judgment. But not yet. Not yet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Unabashed: Five Shopping Days to Go

My birthday is a day when I unabashedly receive all sorts of love and attention and presents from my minions, as well as from my friends and family.

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm unabashed about receiving love and attention and presents every day of the year. But especially so on my birthday, and during my birth-week and birth-month.
Aidan in costume. Can you guess who he is?

Last year was the first year since 2008 that I did not post a birthday wish list. I only wanted one thing last year. I still want Aidan back. But now, after spending a year and a half figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other--which is essentially what grief is--I have found that I can find moments here and there of peace and joy and contentment, even while my heart is broken.

So, with no further ado, and with a mere five shopping days to go, here's my 2014 birthday wish list:

1. Say Aidan's name to me. This is very simple. You don't have to have a script. I was texting my friend Soap about some assorted topics, and then suddenly I get a text from her that just read "Aidan today." I texted back "Aidan today what?", and she said, "I am thinking about him and wanted to say his name to you." I loved this. 

2. The recovery of the 200+ Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorists more than a month ago. I just heard that they've been located.

3. Diet Coke. I know, I know--it's bad for me. So is pollution, but I'm still gonna breathe.

4. A hanging flower pot for the backyard. It doesn't have to be this elaborate.

5. An agent or publisher for my almost-finished novel.

6. Good Lord Bird by James McBride. I despise and eschew our selfie culture, but I took a selfie anyway with my friend The Generous Listener (TGL) at #FFWgr because James McBride was signing autographs in the background. His book sounds like a delightful and completely new take on the John Brown story.










OK, that'll do it for this year. Happy shopping!

[Update: Apparently James McBride's people do not allow unauthorized use of James McBride's image on wildly popular personal blogs with upwards of seven loyal followers. OK, whatever.] 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hashtag FFWgr, Part Two: The Reading List

In case you missed part one, you can read it here.

I promised to put together a reading list based upon the books and authors I heard cited at the Festival of Faith and Writing 2014. I've organized the list list into four categories: books about writing, works of fiction, books about faith, other non-fiction, and poetry and poets.  The list that follows is only partially annotated because there were SERIOUSLY a LOT of books and authors mentioned. I got tired of annotating and linking. Sorry.

Books about writing

Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction
--This is a college textbook. Interestingly, Amazon only offers an option to rent the book for a semester; it's not available for purchase new. You can buy a used copy on Amazon for $43.98, or on EBay for $52.89.

Kenneth Burke, Permanence and ChangeA Grammar of Motives.
--the latter work offers the dramatistic pentad, a model for analyzing narratives to understand human motivations and predict behavior. The five rhetorical elements include act, scene, agent, agency (or method or means), and purpose (or motive). 

A]ny complete statement about motives will offer some kind of answer to these five questions: what was done (act), when or where it was done (scene), who did it (agent), how he did it (agency), and why (purpose)." -Kenneth Burke

Annie Dillard*
--Mr. Peevie presciently gave me The Writing Life for Christmas, so I will be starting there.

Sol Stein, On Writing
Just reading the description of On Writing from Stein's own website makes me want to drop everything and read it, and while I'm reading it, start revising my novel-in-progress.

Works of fiction

Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman
--I think I need to read more Margaret Atwood.

Raymond Carver*, Cathedral Stories,*, especially the short story A Small Good Thing; What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
--Carver's name was invoked at least three times during FFW.

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
--I'm embarrassed that I have not read this yet, and I just downloaded it to my Kindle for zero dollars and zero cents.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
--If it took Harold Bloom three times to make it all the way through Blood Meridian, I don't hold much hope for my own ability to do so any time in the next century. But it's on the list anyway, because Bloom says McCarthy "has attained genius with that book."

Flannery O'Connor*, the short stories Good Country People and Revelation
--I have the complete short stories downloaded to my Kindle and ready for my summer beach reading; and I just read Good Country People for free here. Read Revelation for free here.

William Faulkner, Barn Burning, A Rose for Emily
Read Barn Burning for free here. Read A Rose for Emily for free here.

Ernest Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber

Khaleid Hosseini, The Mountains Echoed

Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
--Here's a switch: instead of reading it, listen to it!

Barbara Kingsolver

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace
--You probably read this one in high school, but in case you want to refresh your memory, you can read it online here.

John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums

Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych

Mark Twain

Anne Tyler, The Beginner's Goodbye


Books about faith

Walter Brueggemann
--There are 68 publications listed on his Wikipedia page; where is a beginner to begin? That's not a rhetorical question, Internet.

George Herbert


--You can (sort of) read The Temple, Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations online--but you may need a stronger prescription in your glasses when you're done. It might be worth it. 


Julian of Norwich
--Read the complete Revelations of Divine Love online here, as well as excerpts from the Revelations.

Denys Turner, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism
--From the Amazon book description: Turner "argues that the distinctiveness and contemporary relevance of medieval mysticism lies precisely in its rejection of 'mystical experience,' and locates the mystical firmly within the grasp of the ordinary and the everyday." A quick look tells me I'll need to read it with my dictionary at hand.



Karth Barth

Frederic Buechner

Andrew Krivak, A Long Retreat

C. S. Lewis*, The Screwtape Letters

Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Walker Percy*, The Second Coming

Eugene Peterson

Jan Richardson

Teresa of Avila


Other non-fiction

Henry David Thoreau
--I read Thoreau's essay The Last Days of John Brown because FFW speaker James McBride's new book, National Book Award Winner The Good Lord Bird tells John Brown's story from a brand-new perspective. I was delighted to see Thoreau refer to his neighbors as pachydermatous--which he used in reference to the thickness of their heads, not their skin. Awesome.

Mary Karr, Lit, The Liar's Club
--Stephen King wrote this about Mary Karr's writing: "I was stunned by Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality--she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years."

Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Rural Life
--Interesting. The Rural Life is a weekly column in the New York Times about life on a farm and boots getting stuck in mud and stuff. Some people think it's a little pretentious and condescending.

Michael Perry

Poetry and Poets

Maya Angelou

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Mary Oliver

Ron Padgett, Center of Gravity 

Lucy Shaw, The Crime of Living Cautiously

...

So now we have a reading list for the next two years--until FFW 2016 gives us another one.

Which of these books and authors have you already read? Which are you going to look for the next time you head to Myopic? (Shout out to M. Peevie--that's her favorite bookstore.)

I'm starting with Flannery O'Connor.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Testimony

I had a dream that I got to church and suddenly found out that I was supposed to get up front and give a testimony. I was not prepared, and I wondered, "What would my testimony even be?" 

A testimony is supposed to tell the story of God's work in your life. If you google "Christian testimony" you will get almost 17 million hits. You'll encounter a page called Christian Testimonies on the official King James Bible online website, or "Amazing Stories, Christian Testimonies, Healing Miracles, and Inspirational Stories" on the 700 Club website. (I'm not linking to that one. Sorry.) 

All of them, if the sample I read is representative, tell stories of healing and forgiveness and change. They all come from the perspective of having been through the fire, and come out on the other side in a place of transcendental hope and joy.


"...the Lord took my dad dying, took my worst nightmare and showed me how he can make it into the best thing that's happened to me."
"All the chains that held me captive for so long have been shattered!"
"J. surrendered to God and hasn't touched drugs or alcohol since."
"All I have to do is live and love in the grace God has given me, and I just stand there and let him do what he loves best--and that is make my life perfect."


After I woke up, I kept thinking about this testimony business. I am in such a broken, desperate spiritual place--I definitely don't have a 700 Club-type testimony. I mostly can't worship; I can only grieve. I can barely praise; sometimes it's hard to be thankful. I can only grieve. 

I can't sing the words to hymns that proclaim 


"I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless; Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness.Where is thy sting, death? Where grave thy victory?"

...because I do most definitely feel the "sting" of Aidan's death, and the grave has an excruciating, if temporary, victory. 

I especially can't confess, because my only sorrow is the constant presence of Aidan's absence. I can, however, sing the parts that ask God's help: "In life, in death, Lord, abide with me." This is the only part of worship that I can do these days, most of the time. 

But maybe we need more testimonies that don't have a happy, feel-good conclusion, in which the believer testifies from the other side of suffering. We need testimonies that come from right in the middle of pain and suffering and inadequacy and sin and despair--because that's where we live. 

Even if you're on the other side of your own worst troubles, you are still in this world, and the people around you are suffering; so you must, if you walk with Jesus, feel their sorrow and pain. That should be the place where every testimony begins and ends--rather than beginning with sin and sorrow and ending with the theme song from The Lego Movie.

The wife of a person I know suffered from a dangerous, life-threatening health condition; he was by her side for more than a week, watching the doctors try to diagnose and treat her, watching her sometimes seem like she was getting better, sometimes seem like she was dying.

I emailed him, "You must be exhausted and scared. Hope you get a restful sleep."

He replied: "I'm NOT scared. Why would I be scared? God is in control of space, time, and place. He is in charge; and I and my bride have placed our trust and lives in Him. Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow."

All I can see when I read that are huge flashing red letters: D E N I A L.

It doesn't ring true. If he had said that he did feel fear, but he prayed, and now feels comfort and peace--that would be more believable. But to not even admit the presence, ever, of fear? I'm not buying it. It's definitely not the kind of testimony that buttresses my own feeble faith because it is so far from my own experience.

We need to hear stories from people who are STILL struggling with sin, who are STILL afraid, who are STILL sad, even though they are believers. Trusting in Jesus does not mean we no longer feel normal human emotions like fear and sadness. It doesn't mean we no longer experience the hold of sin on our lives. Rather,the beauty of Jesus is that we are invited to bring these normal human experiences and feelings and struggles to Him, and He will meet us right where we are.

That's my testimony. I mostly can't worship or confess because I don't have it in me. I guess that's Gospel 101. I don't have it in me. But if I do have moments when I can worship, moments of faith or joy or thankfulness, it is very clear to me that those moments come directly from the hand of God. God supplies grace to allow me to cling tenuously to faith and hope; and God provides comfort from other sufferers, other doubters, others who don't have all the answers.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem in Your Pocket Day

For Poem In Your Pocket Day, here is my selection:

A Warning To My Readers:

Do not think me gentle 
because I speak in praise of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace 
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I 
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

--Wendell Berry

It's not too late for you to grab a poem, print it, and put it in your pocket. Then it's ready for you to pull out during the day and read to a friend or to a stranger on the train.

What poem did you put in your pocket today?


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hashtag FFWgr

Ninety-nine percent of you won't know what that title means--which is sort of the epitome of bad communication. Nonetheless, I'm starting there, because I ended there--at #FFWgr. 

#FFWgr, the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a biannual conference of writers and readers of faith: about finding faith, leaving faith, and returning to faith; about the connection between faith and writing. I make my pilgrimage there to find inspiration and motivation. I'm completely positive (in the ironic sense of those words) that I will eventually be one of the speakers there, talking to the little people about getting up at four a.m. and sitting down in front of the computer and waiting for God to show up.

Actually--that was James McBride's line. My perspective will be more of a p.m. perspective, because mornings give me hives; and my topic will be Why I Keep Writing Even Though I've Never Been Published; And As A Matter of Fact, Why Would You Even Listen To Me?

I'm going to give you two kinds of #FFWgr candy: motivational and/or interesting quotes from some of the talks I went to; and a reading list. I kept notes as I listened, and wrote down the names of books and authors that the speakers mentioned. I may have missed a few, but I've still got a pretty good list.

So first, the quotes, in order of their appearance:

Daniel Taylor:

"Everyone should write their own apologetics--how do you tell this story of faith to yourself?" This is a riff, he said, on Milton's idea that everyone should write his own theology. I tried to confirm that Milton actually said or wrote something like this, but could not. Internet, could you do me a solid and let me know a) did Milton ever say/write anything like that and b) what's the source?

The topic of Taylor's talk was The Use of Story in Apologetics. He said, "stories defend faith by making it desirable, powerful, winsome. Stories don't just tell truth. Truth can be a sledgehammer. Stories can make faith not just reasonable and believable, but also attractive."

"Stories are convincing; they require us to change, and tell us how to do it."

"Stories don't prove anything, but stories prove everything that's important."

"Don't just tell anecdotes, tell stories. Anecdotes are reduced; they lack personal experience and emotion." I'd like to learn more about this distinction.

"Look for evidence of the divine in the mundane and even in the profane." 

John Suk talked about something called "perspective by incongruity," an idea of Kenneth Burke's which I didn't quite get but will add to my growing list of Things I Want to Know More About.

(Sigh. #FFWgr always leaves me with the existential exhaustion of realizing ever more clearly how much I don't know.)

From James McBride

"Most of what I do fails. Learn to fail. Fail--then forget it." I'm not sure I believe this. Maybe it's hyperbole? I would like to know, operationally, what that looks like.

"I wake up at 4 a.m. and just sit there waiting for God to come into the room." Many speakers at the conference mentioned the productivity of the early morning hours, which discourages me a tiny bit.

"Skepticism is good, but cynicism is a killer of dreams." Ooooh, this was good. (And by the way, how do you spell "ooo" that rhymes with "mood" rather than ooooh that rhymes with "road"? Because I was aiming for the oo in mood sound there, but it just didn't look right without the h.)

Shannon Huffman Polson

"Grief and loss are lonely, but they connect you to humanity." I think this is why suffering is such a useful tool for an artist, writer, musician. Dammit.

"I wanted to suffer, wanted the pain of grief--because it would keep me closer to those I had lost." This certainly resonated with me, even though I remember when I said it to a friend, she looked at me strangely. I saw other heads nodding--and I was glad to see that this counter-intuitive feeling of wanting to hold on to the pain of grief was not merely a glitch in my otherwise well-adjusted persona, but that it had universal resonance.

"If the grief ebbed, did it mean that the love and connection were not that great? There is a lot of guilt in grief." This, too; both the question and the statement.

Andrew Krivak:

"Take small acts--actions outside of the interior life of grief and loss--and write them into your story." This is actually a paraphrase, but I like the notion that small acts have great value. I think he was making a reference to the book Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity and Ingenuity Can Change the World. 
Peter Marty

Peter Marty (whose appearance reminded me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer):

"If you want to be a better writer, become a deeper person." I wish he had offered Seven Steps to Becoming a Deeper Person.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"We keep on outsourcing our brains--we know and remember less. We externalize our knowledge, our taste, our experience, and our faith. We reference and rely on the faith and experience of others. In Genesis, by chapter three they stop talking with God and start talking about God."

"Is it possible for some people to miss their lives in the way that they miss a plane?"

"Tell me what you love, and I can tell you what you believe." Oof.

"We identify our center through suffering." More on this, please.

Anne Lamott:

"Life and writing are very, very hard. I don't think we're here to figure things out."

"There is perfect healing, but people die anyway. Frankly, if I were God, I would have a completely different system."

"I think if there is a God, he probably looks a lot like Isaac Stern. Or Bette Midler."

"We were taught to stay one step ahead of the abyss. If the abyss opens up at your feet, go to Ikea. Get an area rug."

"It's OK to admit that you're crazy and damaged. All the better people are."

Hugh Cook offered practical advice about writing fiction:

"Your character must desperately want something; but something thwarts her. She must make specific, decisive actions."

"Use dialogue not for narration or description, but to show your characters."

"Reveal your character's age early on."

Brett Lott:

Start a story with what you know, and head into "what if"--what if this happened, or that?"

Suzanne Woods Fisher:

"Answer the call to write; keep the calling at the forefront of your vision all the time."

"Living for the opinions of others is seductive; don't do it. Remember who you are."

I have no quotes from James Vanden Bosch, but his presentation on corpus linguistics was one of my top three sessions. Who knew. I might even sign up for the eight-week MOOC in September.

Miroslav Volf:

"Atheists point to ways that religion and Christians have failed and malfunctioned."

"We must listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters from around the world to penetrate our own self-deception. We must listen to the wisdom of saints and critics."

"We are restless for God; we reach for the transcendent. The orientation of our selves to the Divine is the primary function of faith."

This next quote is from an audience member who might have been quoting someone else, but it struck me as worthy of inclusion: "Christianity has become so sentimental and shallow that we can't even produce good atheists anymore!" This was connected to the part of the interview in which Volf said something to the effect that he'd take Nietzsche over Dawkins any day.

"I don't bemoan the marginalization of the Christian faith. There are strengths in the margins. When Christians were in the center of power we were used, and the faith was abused. Like the band of twelve followers on the outskirts of Jerusalem, we can testify to the beauty of Jesus Christ from the margins."

Rachel Held Evans:

"Every challenge--the challenge of writer's block, distraction, discouragement, fear, lack of ideas--is solved by getting back to work. In writing, that work is paying attention, naming things, telling stories." 

"Remember that God is generous, and grace is scandalous. God has called us to this work. There is no scarcity principle at work in writing--there's plenty of work to do, plenty of stories to tell."

Now, I bet you can't wait until #FFWgr2016! I know I can't.

Stay tuned for Hashtag FFWgr, Part Two: Reading List.