Its now been almost a week and half since I have returned the Wordsmithy Workshop at New Saint Andrews College. It has taken me this long to sit down and write down some reflections. Whether its busyness, or laziness or lack of a proper schedule, I don’t know. Lord knows I’ve doing my best to keep head above water. Alas, here I am. Finally, a moment to write.
If you haven’t ever heard of the Wordsmithy Workshop or of New Saint Andrews, check out my reflection from last year to get a little more background. Every year thus far it has been a wonderfully enriching experience. As I reflect on this year’s trip, my impressions all seem to congregate around one main aspect. Perhaps the greatest highlight of this year’s Wordsmithy for me was the opportunity to meet and interact with such a wonderful variety of people, all of whom had a passion for writing. This was helpful and inspiring for two main reasons.
First of all, people who have an interest in writing have a tendency to keep it to themselves and work in isolation from others. For a variety of reasons, we don’t often share our interest in writing with others and we don’t meet many others who share the same passion (perhaps because they too keep it to themselves). The experience of meeting people from all over the country who love God, who have an appreciation for deep biblical thinking and who also write was so inspiring. It was that a multiplied version of that, “What? You too?” experience of companionship that C. S. Lewis writes of. I needed that. And I still need it. And I am excited to continue to cultivate those connections in the coming months and years. If you like to write, find some others who share your zeal. Share and learn with them. It will take your further than you think.
The second major connection on people and writing was the deeper realization that our writing really is the result of the kind of people that we are. If I want to learn to write well, I must live and read well. I must learn to daily drink from the well of life experience, both in the life around me and the life written down in the books on my desk. The wisdom of Gandalf was only an echo of the wisdom of Tolkien. Only C. S. Lewis could have pulled off a character like Aslan. And he did so out of the richness of his own experience knowing God and his love on a daily basis.
The main speakers where great examples of this. Doug Wilson, Walter Kirn and Peter Hitchens are all very different people. They come from different backgrounds, cultures and religious experiences. They are all very accomplished writers. They all write very differently. And if you delve into the writings of either of these men you will find that their work is simply the communication of a life lived in honesty, intensity and richness of experience.
Personally, I found Walter Kirn’s talks particularly moving in this regard. I think he really laid out his mind and his heart. His thoughts on fiction, essays and poetry were all the fruits of a man who, in honesty has wrestled with the messy and complicated issues of life. They were personal and transparent. They were the words of a man who does not merely live to write, but a man who writes to live. Listening to him was like a splash of cold water on a hot summer day.
Overall I find the whole experience of writing to be a very person thing that makes this world a very personal place. All of life is, in a large sense, the product of the spoken and written words of the generations that came before. When we read we find that we are not alone in the world of human experience. When we write we tell others that they are not alone.
This then causes me to reflect on the greater picture of life and to wonder why words and ideas play such a central role in it all. I find then, that the universe is a personal place – the product of the spoken words of a triune God. Just like Frodo did not make himself, neither did I. The quest of the ring was the creation of a wise author, as is the quest on which we all find ourselves. To think, to speak, to write – is to reflect the heart of him who made all things. It connects us with the world that is. It connects us with the people around us. It connects us to the one who formed us after his own creative image.
Do you have an interest in writing? Let me know! Lets connect and share what we’ve learned. Consider joining me for the next writers event at New Saint Andrews College!