O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Nine Things I Learned at FFW

I know yesterday’s post already mentioned my trip to Grand Rapids for the Festival of Faith & Writing, but I want to get one more post out while the experience is still fresh. Being around other writers (published and unpublished), editors, and agents is definitely inspiring, and it’s something I hope to do again.

For those who didn’t make it there, here are nine memorable things I’ll take away from the festival.

Eugene Peterson eats yogurt for breakfast.

2. Writers — both published and unpublished — are desperate for tips about blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and anything else social media-related. Everyone knows they need to do it in the name of “building a platform.” But no one knows how. Including me. In panel discussions and private conversations, I presented myself as a social media “expert,” but the truth is that I’m just making this stuff up as I go along.


3. Super-agent Greg Daniel looks very intimidating in his Twitter profile photo, but he’s actually very friendly.

4. Based on my interactions with Zondervan staff, they only employ gracious, friendly, and super-cool people.

5. It is possible to write honestly about a religious upbringing you have ultimately rejected, while still honoring your friends and family members who maintain those beliefs. Thank you, Michael Perry, for illustrating this so brilliantly.


6. Sarah Cunningham and Rachel Held Evans are as cool in person as they come across in my previous blog interviews with them.

7. The best writing gets polished and polished and polished on the surface level. And all that polishing eventually allows the “fist of truth” to break through with a powerful uppercut from deep beneath the surface. (Thanks, Kate DiCamillo, for the memorable analogy.)


8. How awesome is Eugene Freaking Peterson? I gasped out loud when he finished his talk. That is not something I do very often.

9. No writer, despite his or her level of success, is completely satisfied. I had a conversation with a friend of a memoirist I admire. Let’s call this memoirist Author A. The friend of Author A mentioned how frustrated Author A is that her memoir — a quirky but exceptionally inspiring story about faith — hasn’t gotten the same attention as another memoir by Author B, whose equally quirky and inspiring memoir became a mega-bestseller. And here I am, listening to this conversation, knowing that I would be ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to have the sales and attention that Author A has received for her work. Yes — the frustrated, envious Author A.


Ken Grant blogs a review of O Me of Little Faith followed by an interview with yours truly.

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posted April 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Funny stuff Jason. I'm enjoying the opportunity to know you through your posts and Tweets.

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Tess Mallory

posted April 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Hey Jason, thanks for the post on the conference. Is this a yearly event? Where was it at? How can I get on the mailing list? :)) So many questions…so little time. Started my blog. Not sure I was ready, as I told you. Any advice welcome. :))

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Jason Boyett

posted April 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Tess: FFW is every two years at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. The next one is in April 2012. And it's definitely worth attending.

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Jeff Chapman

posted April 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Jason wrote: "In panel discussions and private conversations, I presented myself as a social media 'expert,' but the truth is that I'm just making this stuff up as I go along."Have you considered a career in poker? You fooled me. You certainly seemed like an expert.

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Rachel H. Evans

posted April 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

You too are very cool in person, Jason. Thanks for hanging out with newbies like me. Your point about jealousy is so true. At conferences like these I am always reminded of the fact that contentment is not something you find "out there." No matter where you are in the writing/publishing journey, there is ALWAYS another writer who is more talented or more successful. There's something strangely liberating about knowing I will never officially "arrive," that the capacity for joy has always been with me – with or without a book deal. Hopefully we will meet again soon!

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Tess Mallory

posted April 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Book deals come and go. Authors rise and fall. Comparing yourself to another author is like comparing an apple to an orange. Both are great fruits, but the deal is this — how many people like oranges, and how many like apples at this moment in time? And remember — One person's apple this week, may be their orange next week. Fruity perspective: who knew it could be so profound?Such is the life of a writer. My problem? I fear I am a kumquat. :)) Thanks Jason for the info. I will go to FFW's site and maybe in two years I'll get to meet you!

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posted April 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

#7 – I loved that analogy as well. I will never forget it!#8 – I'm still in awe of his talk that day. I have mountains of notes to try to cling on to his wisdom forever!

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Susie M Finkbeiner

posted April 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I walked past Eugene "freaking" Peterson…I was so close I could have touched him! And he smiled at me!!! Ah, the mountain top of FFW. I miss it so much. Where else can one go, wear glasses, read big books and feel like a cool kid?

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posted April 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Yes, I loved the Kate DiCamillo metaphor, too. Thanks for a great summary, and a great panel on social media at the Festival. If being willing to wrestle with questions and write it all down makes you an expert, you probably are one.

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