Monday, April 26, 2010

Writing and walking

Yow! I just returned from a writers conference, the Festival of Faith and Writing, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The most practical thing I learned was this: A blog doesn't have any impact if you post to it too infrequently. And look at the date on my last post! I'm a slacker.

So, before I get back to the weight loss success stories, let me tell you about the conference. The featured writers were phenomenal: Mary Karr, Wally Lamb, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Avi, Kate DiCamillo. My absolute favorites were Rhoda Janzen (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress) and Michael Perry (Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting). I also loved taking in the photographs of Steve McCurry (Afghan Girl), with all their color and intriguing stories.

Beyond the headiness of walking among literary legends, I just plain enjoyed this conference because I didn't have anything to sell! I attend one or two conferences a year, and usually I'm pushing some manuscript or other. This time, though, I went off with a light heart, a contract on its way for my latest manuscript, a collection of stories told by military chaplains. So I just went to relax and enjoy!

Let me tell you, though, it was quite a workout physically. The workshops and sessions were spread out over the college and seminary and we conferees hiked for miles every day. I was exhausted by the second day. I must admit, I chose one session merely because it was in the lecture hall I was sitting in at the time.

So, this situation brings up the topic of weight. I am not at my lowest weight. I gained five pounds over the winter when a succession of pulled muscles in my legs and back limited my exercise. I've successfully lost one pound -- one pound! -- with a lot of work at the gym and close attention to my food choices. It's so hard to lose just one pound! The body is evil -- it remembers its former shape and wants to go back there. I'm working on the four pounds, and I'm determined to get back to my lowest weight.

Hurrying along to my workshops, hefting my heavy briefcase, I felt those extra pounds. It may not sound like much, but pick up a five-pound bag of sugar to give yourself an idea of the extra work it takes to drag that weight around.

All around me, I saw people struggling with far more weight than mine and my heart went out to them. This was a conference of literary richness, yet so many people couldn't enjoy it to the fullest, hobbled by their excess weight. I passed unhappy people huffing along, arriving late to the workshops and settling heavily into uncomfortably small chairs. They avoided the cafeterias and snack shops whose entrances were at the top of stairs, missing their chance to meet and talk with other writers. And, like me, many people chose the workshops that required the least effort.

It hurt my heart to think that these people whose spirits were committed to heady ideas and elegant language were constrained by their physical selves. Many people I met were writers working as hard as they could to get published. I would love to see that steadfast resolve applied to their own benefit. How I wish it could be.


  1. Glad you had a good time at the conference. I too feel sad when I see people carrying around excess weight. You will lose those 4 pounds before you know it.

  2. That was me not too long ago. Thank God He's saved me!

    Many of my high school choir students end up attending Calvin College in Michigan! They have just returned from a weekend trip there. Your conference sounded exciting!

  3. I love to be surrounded by creative people!! Lately I've found myself feeling sorry for overweight kids who are going to have to struggle their whole lives like I did. My best friend is raising a fat kid and I feel sad for her. Thank you so much for all of your words of encouragement. I'm trying to make time to catch up on all my pals!