Faith, Writing, & People

Faith, Writing, & People

1920 1183 Nathaniel Lee Hansen

Four weeks ago, I was with some of my best writer and editor friends and acquaintances at the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My main responsibility was promoting the journal I edit: Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature. For three days, I worked a bookfair table, giving my spiel about the kind of work we publish.

On the second day of the conference, a post was published here about my sweltering writerly jealousy. The piece was cathartic, and if I hadn’t finished it before I left for Michigan, I doubt my experience at the conference would have been so refreshing and soul-filling. I needed those three days more than I realized.

Perhaps, however, it’s better to view that post as more confessional than cathartic. Just as with my other recent writings, I am acknowledging more truths about myself and then admitting them to others and the wider world. In that post, I discuss the ways that jealousy eats at me. I’m optimistic that my thoughts might speak truth into someone else’s life.

For those three days, I didn’t feel the sting of jealousy jabbing me; instead, I was able to enjoy the experience.

There were the many meaningful conversations I had with so many people.

There were dinners with friends two of those nights, dinners with much laughter, where I met new people, talked about writing.

There was the quiet in the bookfair room each morning before it officially opened.

There was plentiful sunshine, the weather a welcome arrival for people traveling far north in mid-April.

There was the spontaneous lunch one day, a deep discussion with three others, one of whom I’d just met.

I caught up with people I hadn’t seen for months, some even in years. I visited with two former colleagues.

I read a friend’s chapbook one night, not envious of his publication, but enamored by his poetry and the setting of his poems. Just as it should be. When I finished it that night by myself in the hotel, I emailed him to tell him how much I enjoyed the chapbook.

I was in a place where words mattered and faith mattered.

I was in a place with so little posturing and pomposity compared to another major writing conference I regularly attend.

I was exhausted at the end of each day, and it was difficult to turn off my brain. I didn’t sleep well, but that was okay.

It took a few days to adjust to my routine. But I am grateful for the time with others that was soul-filling, that encouraged me in my journey towards being more like Christ, that encouraged me in my journey towards being more honest, especially in whatever I write.

Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I’m a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. My chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). My work has appeared in Christianity and Literature, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Blast Furnace, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. I currently serve as an assistant professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. I also edit Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature and direct the annual Windhover Writers’ Festival. When not writing or teaching, I run, read, play piano, listen to music, and play disc golf. My greatest joys are my wife, my son, and my daughter. I was born in southern Minnesota, but while growing up, I had little interest in the Plains and opens spaces. A stint at a rural state liberal arts college in southwestern Minnesota, as well as grad-school stints in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota, altered my interests. @plainswriter, plainswriter.com, & www.facebook.com/plainswriter

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1 Comment
  • Nathaniel, I followed some tweets over here from FFW2016. I’m glad I did. I’ll have to go read your cathartic/confessional piece in a bit, but for now I rejoice with you in the gifts you experienced in other friendships and the writing of other people.
    I co lead a very small writer’s group on line and am into my 5th year of blogging. The pull is constant-to be like all those others or write the voice that God has given us and enjoy the beauty he brings through others. Thank you for writing about this.
    (P.S. I’m considering attending the Windhover Conf and look forward to more info when it’s available….Left a message on the Windhover FB page 🙂

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