Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Body of Water

Calvin Prince Conference Center

First day of the conference, I take it easy. Wake up late. This will turn out to be a good move.

On the shuttle over to the Prince Conference Center, I meet a former college president who incidentally knows my father-in-law and likes him a great deal. We hit it off and end up attending Mary Gordon's opening talk together: Is Fiction Moral? I am reminded of the post I did right before leaving, which suggested that words have the power to preserve life.

Gordon's talk is so intelligent and moving, I can hardly keep up. The long and short of it: she begins by arguing that fiction is not moral. It's not where she goes when she wants to consider how to behave... but she ends by arguing that fiction is moral, if one considers compassion to be a kind of morality.

This converges with the reading I've been doing since embarking on the trip... a book called Missing Mountains, which approaches the issue of mountaintop removal not only through essay but also through poetry and short story... perhaps as a way to develop compassion for "the children who do not have good water to drink or bathe in, the people who travel unsafe roads or live beneath sites that have already sent boulders through their homes."

After the opening session, I am accosted (in an oh-so-friendly-and-welcome-way) by Ann Kroeker, as I'm walking through the tunnel that goes over the highway. She has bought my book and the IVP people have apparently described me with great accuracy. I sign her book. We chat. It is clear we will need more time together. We agree to have lunch the next day. (More on that tomorrow.) My camera batteries are dead, so I use her camera to take a picture of her, which Mark Goodyear finds it in his heart to call artsy and wonky (or maybe those words were really to describe me).

I float through the afternoon, chatting and exploring. I attend only one more seminar, where I end up making unexpected plans with someone from Paraclete Press. (I can be this way at conferences... skipping seminars. A while back I decided that relationship is more important than information; this will reach its height the next day!). I write a poem about relationship. The image is that of rain falling on a body of water. Maybe a lake or a pond or a stream. I am feeling like the lake, the pond. Others are the rain.

"Body of Water"

rain comes, rings
fan out collide
die and resurrect
in liquid ridges,
tensions releases
ride beyond
perception, yet...

LL and IVP Marketing Friends

Around 5:00 pm, my publishing company (see feet above!) takes me out to celebrate Stone Crossings. I am a slow eater and end up sitting with a group of very patient people who are quite done, while I am still working on greens with gorgonzola and cranberry walnut bread. Overall we have a great time, but I feel an odd sense of tension as I have also come to the conference having just received a contract offer from IVP for God in the Yard. This is not simply a celebration; it is potentially a next step too, and that feels strange.

After dinner, I decide to skip the plenary session. In a little while, Ted and Deb will come to meet me at my hotel and bless me deeply with their presence and prayer. An hour later, we will say our goodbyes. Then I will return to my quiet room. And put my body of water into a small body of water in the bare hotel bathroom. It will have been good to relax, as I discover the following day.


LL's Solo at the Red Sun

LL's Leaving

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Golly, (yes I said golly) I am really enjoying these posts. Possibly because I am attending my first writing conference this coming weekend and am excited to meet other great writers and sop up as much wisdom as I can in the process...

12:04 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Brandon... a writer's conference?! Great. Which one? Anything else you hope to gain from the experience?

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, is that a collection of poetry I see coming soon? I'm just sitting at my desk surrounded by unsightly piles, trying to decide what to read to the students next, and I am soaking your words in. My spirit is always refreshed when I'm in this chair and I google you.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To borrow Mark's adjective, it's fun to see another couple of "wonky" photos by L.L. Barkat.

And what different filters we are using to run the conference through as we process.

You churn out poetry in your calm, reflective style.

I've blathered.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Another set of wonky photos from LL...

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference in Colorado Springs. I'm looking forward to it. Haven't met any other writers here in town yet.

I guess, in addition to networking, I'm looking to just get a broad view of what the writing world is like beyond my limited perspective. A few sessions on Christian Fiction, a few on genre fiction, a non-fiction session, one on screen writing, maybe. Why not?

As my first conference, I don't really have a goal other than to learn and be there. My novel is in no state to pitch, but that's intentional. I wanted to go to a conference without really having anything at stake. :)

4:32 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

You got to meet with Ted and Deb?? Lucky!!

I'm sure the folks you were with didn't mind taking time at the table. It's better than the opposite... you get ready to enjoy a meal, and people are rushing out the door. That's what happened to me in Tokyo. (But we needed to keep a schedule with the bus going to the airport.)

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like that word "wonky" Mark. Almost all of the youth ministry photos we take look something like these... wierd (ok, different) angles, feet circles... or someone's head lying in the center of the feet with the camera pointed up... and closeups of words/signage, etc. You can probably imagine what teens find interesting! I now am feeling quite "artsy" (thanks LL!) and not just wierd and crazy.
BTW...forgot my google password again L. Just sad. I may NEVER graduate from lurker status. Tutorial my friend.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are wonderfully wonky!

sounds like you had a good time...what a great event to get to talk writing with writers! and to have a chance to form relationships hopefully over the years. interestng how lives can overlap.

6:28 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

wow, l.l. like other, i am positively LOVING these posts. i am getting more of a glimpse into the inner you that is behind all the different thoughts you share so abundantly here. the poetry, the experiences, the relationships . . . all of it feels so special to be a part of as you share it here.

and CONGRATULATIONS on the news of your contract offer on God in the Yard! that is such great news. i am thrilled for you.

by the way, i had to stop and say out loud what you wrote here: 'relationship is more more important than information.' amen to that, sista!

8:10 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

It was so wonderful to meet with you, L.L. It's so funny that there is a lady on your profile somewhere, of those you've interviewed towards the bottom. I thought that was a photo of you, so when you came and said,"Ted and Deb?" I looked at you with a blank expression.

So very interesting to read of your time there in this way! Look forward to reading the rest.

9:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kim... Kim H? Is that you? Funny, I never thought to write poetry, but there it is. And what a pleasant thought... you refreshed by googling. :)

Ann... can't say I'm always this predisposed towards a poetic response. I have no idea what I ate that sent me in this direction (Mount Hermon certainly didn't get me writing this way). As for your way of discussing the conference, I like your lively thoughts.

Mark... no fair. You didn't read the post did you... :)

Brandon... sounds like a great way to start. Just explore. Someday I'll take a few seminars in fiction or something like that. Always good to try things one has no affinity whatsoever for! :)

Craver... are you saying you have inside information? I'm pretty sure they were beginning to count how many times I was chewing before swallowing. ;-)

Kim (again)... how nice to have you here twice in one day. Now, about that password, there's always the good old fashioned address book. You can write it there (or alternately try branding to the forehead ;-)

Nancy... yes, it's that overlapping I was considering with the ripple image. At some point, we lose track of where all the intersections are and where they travel off to.

Christianne... you warm my heart with your enthusiasm. It's kind of fun to be posting for one full week. I could never keep this up on a regular basis, but it does feel kind of like having a sleepover or something! Thanks on God in the Yard. So I begin again. :)

Ted... which lady? Which profile? Just wondering if you thought I was blond or red-headed. Cheers to you and Deb!

9:33 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Welcome home and congrats on the new book contract - I am looking forward to my very own copy of Crossings!

11:42 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Yes, please do begin again--I anxiously await God in the Yard.

Warm congratulations!

11:56 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I want you to know that your pictures helped me focus on the enviornment today. Clean water, air, and doing what we can to help take care of what God has given to us. Thank you brother for such wonderful pictures.
I hope you had a great earth day today.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

2:34 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Kim, I work with the youth at our church quite a bit. They are so wonky-tonk that a lot of the adults in our church are scared to help out. Personally, they help me keep a fresh perspective on the world.

I guess LL's weird angles help me do that too. When the weirdness isn't just artsy cliche.

How fun to pick on LL as if this isn't her blog!

2:00 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

[talking about Mark as if he isn't here]

Artsy cliche? Did he just say that? Who let Mark in today? Hey, Craver, help me out here...

2:03 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Susan... look forward no more; it's on the way. Thanks for your patience! :)

Ann... thanks. I plan to take my time with it. Sigh. It'll be a few years by the time they actually publish it (that's the publishing world for you!)

Preacherman... yes, Calvin has that effect on me too. ;-)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

C'mon, LL... "Wonky-tonk." You gotta give him points for that. Well, at least we're talking about weird angles and not weird angels. Ooh, that would be creepy!

3:04 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... huh? Are you taking his side because of the dandelions?

[or do you mean that anyone who would be willing to say that in public deserves the Courage Award at the very least?]

Weird angels. I'm not sure they could be categorized as normal anyway. I mean, beings who walk around with wings and fiery eyes after all? (or would that be fly around?)

3:18 PM  
Blogger Halfmom said...

LL - no patience was needed - I gave you a pretty hard request! I just appreciate your being willing to do it!

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL, in my live and breathe teenagers world I walk around with fiery eyes and (hidden)wings and you know I'M not weird, right?

funny thing: since I'm a such a bad typist I really did write angels instead of angles and then caught it before I submitted the comment.

[talking about her as if she isn't here]
LL helps me do that too, keep a fresh perspective that is. Her words take me beyond my own lenses AND she exposed me to a whole new genre(blogging), which I now voraciously read. For both I am blessed and grateful. Oh, and I'd never DREAM of picking on her on her own blog. Guess I've just known her longer than you have... I'd come over to your blog to do that.:)

10:46 PM  
Blogger Cindy Bunch said...

It's amazing what one can learn by reading a blog!

3:33 PM  
Blogger Cindy Bunch said...

Amazing what one can learn by reading a blog! (Your editor)

3:34 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Just to be clear. When I said "artsy cliche" I meant that in the best possible way. I'm like a middle school boy in that I pick on people I love. Love you all!

5:14 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Cindy... it's true! And... I highly recommend the archives. And just three other LL blogs. ;-) Oh, and you have made me smile with that very editorly thing ... posting a comment and then posting an edited version right under it. And Welcome to Seedlings (everybody gets a welcome first time in, and a glass of iced tea at the counter... just watch out... some of these people do things like play twister and put Doritos under the cushions... see comment section of that link for explanation)

Mark... okay, I'm trying to take that as a compliment. :)

5:59 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

No. I think actually she is a brunette. I had her face in my mind when I saw you and so I looked at you and drew a blank.

Without that thought I surely would have said to myself immediately, that's L.L.!

8:27 PM  

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