Some loves are normative. I can tell you that I love my husband and daughters and you will understand me. I could say I love Jesus, and most of you will understand what I mean to say, even if you don’t share that love. I could mention that I love the smell of frying onions and the sight of melting cheese, and many of you will sigh and salivate.
I could even say that I love words and writing, and many of you will nod in agreement. But if I say that I love my writing self will you continue to nod? Or is a bit transgressive to turn a love inward?
Yet the best way for me to express my love of words and writing is to honor my writing self. I have to feed Writing Ruth. I have to stoke the flames of her loves.
How about you? Are there loves you struggle to honor?
This past Saturday something unexpected happen — something I’ll think of as an early valentine I gave to myself. At the last moment I attended the last day of the AWP conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in Washington, DC. The opportunity was spurred by a long-time writing friend who traveled to the conference. Not only could I listen to writers talk about writing, but I could spend time with my friend, who is a phenomenal poet.
I had to scramble to make it happen. I sacrificed a few hours of sleep. But what I gained was not just a 24-hour series of events and conversations. I gained a space of time that reminded who I am: a writer. In fact, that is who God created me to be.
Perhaps this is why brief love liaisons don’t go out of fashion, even when they’re transgressive. Even a few hours can feed a hunger inside of us, a love that deserves to be stoked, an identity too often hidden.
This is how I fed my writer self at AWP:
- wandered through an enormous book fair and chatted with other wordy-type people
- discovered a writing program that tickles my fancy for summer 2018
- listened to three authors read, then discuss how they work with their characters’ history. “What is our present moment except the consequence of everything that has gone before?”
- heard a panel of authors discuss the topic Wayfaring Stranger. “Who gets to tell the story of a particular people?”
- met writers in every stage of their careers, including the novelist Richard Bausch
- gained insight into my own current writing goals and roadblocks
- attended a candlelight vigil to support the right of free speech #WritersResist
- closed the evening with a sort of bedtime story from Colum McCann, a reading from “”Letters to a Young Writer”