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Writing for the Pastoral Life, Day the Sixth

November 16, 2010

This was probably the most important day of our time together, because it’s the day that folks spent figuring out what their next steps were going to be.

For me, the most instructive image I can share is this one:

Mission accomplished!

After almost a year, I finished the second draft and revision of my next novel. It was a shorter process than the first book, but also felt a lot more important; this time, I’m not working on a project that seems completely disconnected from my pastoral vocation. This time, it all fits. Without going into detail, it’s a novel about how children get glimpses of faith that might eventually grow into something more. And it’s made it through the first rewrite! I set no other goals for my free time at the Conference than to complete this project, because editing is my least-favorite part of writing, and the hardest to just slip into. With family life being what it is these days, I knew I needed to use quiet time for this work, so it has been tremendously liberating.

Different folks here have used the free time in different ways. We’ve had workshops morning and afternoon, but we also had a good amount of time for lunch and before the morning sessions start. Some people have been out walking, clearing their heads. Some have been reading a lot more than usual. Some of have been working out, jump starting the health piece that needs to be in place in order to be more productive in general. Some folks have been writing, since they don’t necessarily have a daily writing practice in place already. I’d say one of the best features of the program was that we were not over-scheduled, so that we had time to pursue enough on our own. That way, when we came back together as a group, it seemed like we enjoyed our time even more.

My piece got workshopped today. It’s an article I intend to submit to Congregations magazine, or maybe even Leadership Journal, with some adjustments. The feedback I got helped me to see where the piece needs work. I had focused on one area of the issue and had given another short shrift. The group helped me see where the balance might come in. They didn’t say it was the greatest thing they’d ever read–which would have been shocking, this was a first draft of an article idea–but instead lifted up passages where the language and ideas were most compelling. They pointed out clichés that had to go, and they gave me resources to study to make the article better. I’m grateful that this was my first experience workshopping my writing with others.

I think this should be the last post in this series. Thank you to Chris, Lillian, Marge, Susan, Don, Martin, Jean, Ken, Kyle, Debbie, Janet, Vicky, John, Vicki, Andy, Andrew, and Cindy. Thanks to the churches where they serve. Thanks to Franklin Federated Church, for supporting me in this endeavor. Thanks to my wife Mireille and our family. Thanks to the Collegeville Institute, the Lilly Endowment, and the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.

And thanks be to God, for the wonder and possibility of so many folks from so many different paths coming together to grow and to write.

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