Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Continuing Ed

Last Tuesday's post was all about research, what I would consider to be one of the toughest parts of writing. I'm all flash and glitter, creativity and fun. When I write I like to feel it, which is about as artsy-fartsy a statement as you could make. Yup, I am that woman. That wide-eyed, believes-in-magic, soul-searching artist. I'm okay with that. I've come to grips with the fact that my wanton creativity means I cringe at words like: deadline, research, publicity, and synopsis. But my bold artistic streak means I also adore words like: refresh, renew, and connect. And that's exactly what I get to do this week.

Tomorrow I'm hopping on a jet plane bound for Grand Rapids, Michigan where I'll be attending the Festival of Faith and Writing. If you've never been to the Festival, run, don't walk, to the nearest calendar and put a big X on April of 2012. Yeah, I'm sorry to say that registration is closed this year, and the Festival won't happen again until 2012. Bummer, eh? But that doesn't mean you shouldn't eagerly anticipate your chance to go... It's that good.

Why is it so good? Hmmm... It's hard to quantify what I learn at the Festival. More than anything I suppose it's an opportunity to connect with other authors and be inspired. It's a time to celebrate creativity, explore diversity, and expand my literary horizons. I come away from the festival feeling like a different person--a better author, a more informed reader, an artist who is better able once again to make that ever-present connection between my art and my God. How could they ever be divided? And yet, sometimes they are.

I'm convinced that the Festival of Faith and Writing (and others like it) are the author's form of continuing ed. When I was a teacher we were required to attend Professional Development (Pro-D) Days. There were classes to complete, courses to take, and new methodologies to learn. Most careers have some form of continuing ed built right into their very fabric. But as an author, no one requires me to take classes on my craft. It's something I elect to do on my own because I always want to be growing and developing as a writer. And I believe that all writers need to seek out these opportunities...

So, off to the Festival I go! Hooray! I'll blog about it next week since I have posts ready to go for the rest of this week. I promise pictures. And I promise I'll try to condense the best of the best from these days away and share it all with you.

Your turn: If you write, what do you do to keep your craft fresh and vibrant? Or, how do you keep your passion alive in any (and every) area of your life? If you're a stay-at-home mom, what refreshes you? What encourages you to be a better mom? What about if you're a photographer, a secretary, a student? What constitutes continuing ed in your life?


  1. I've been trying to get into this creative writing class at my university since I was a freshman. I'll be a junior next year, and am still not able to get in. It's ridiculous (and maddening me), as I really want to take this class! To keep my writing fresh...well...let's just say I don't really do a good job with that, which is probably why I'm extremely unhappy about this current draft of my book that I'm writing. I journal on occasion, have several books on the craft of writing (that I have not been able to read yet because school takes up most of my reading time). So, you could say I am really bad at fostering my craft. :( Wish I had more time during school...

  2. Oh - how fun!!

    Thankfully, it's not hard to keep my passion alive. All I have to do is shop around Amazon for a new craft book. I'm probably the biggest writing dork in the world, but there's nothing like a brand spanking-new craft book. I eat them up! You know you truly love what you're doing when learning about it is the opposite of a chore (sadly, I do consider those teacher in-service days rather chore-like).

    Also, listening to good music, reading the Bible, and praying rejuvinates me too!

    Have fun in Michigan - can't wait to hear how it went!

  3. Lauren, I was terrible at fostering my craft in college, too. Your job right now is to focus on school... The time to write (and learn how to keep your writing fresh and vibrant) will come. For now, throw yourself into your studies and be happy with whatever writing you do manage to do! Do I sound like a mother or what? ;)

    Katie, it's interesting to me that you like craft books! I hate them. I don't know why, but they irritate me to no end. Except a few. "Breath for the Bones" by Luci Shaw and "Walking on Water" by Madeleine L'Engle. But those are not prescriptive as much as they are descriptive of the creative process... Somehow that sits better with me. But kudos to you for loving craft books and learning from them! That's excellent--you're a better student than me. :)

  4. That doesn't surprise me that you don't like craft books. You seem a lot more free and artistic with your writing than I am! Goes back to the whole plotting vs. pantser thing. I remember in a post awhile back you had written how plotting took away from your creative process. For me, plotting saves me. I'm a psychotic plotter. I can't imagine writing a book without a detailed plot. I'd feel very lost! Just shows how God makes us all so differently! I love it. :)

    Have you ever read Bird by Bird? It's not a craft book, but it is about the writing process. I lurve that book!