Ten things I learned at the Festival of Faith and Writing

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The Festival of Faith and Writing is over for another two years. I’m off to Chicago in the morning with an enormous bag of recently purchased books and the feeling that I’ve just been steamrollered with words. It’s been a great few days. I’ve met some wonderful people, heard some great readings and a few pretty mediocre readings and been given an awful lot to think about. Here’s ten things I learned from my time at Calvin.

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  1. Everyone in the world loves Flannery O’Connor. She is basically the Marilynne Robinson of dead writers. This is my favourite FC-themed quote of the conference, “is your fiction violent and sort of strange and references God in some weird way? Then, it’s like a Flannery O’Connor story.”
  2. I thought science fiction was my least favourite literary genre. Now, I know it’s actually memoir.
  3. 95% of the entire American population is currently writing a lifestyle blog. The other 5% are thinking about starting one but can’t decide which cool pun to use for a name.
  4. I really ought to give Chekhov another chance.
  5. Also Kafka.
  6. There is a physical limit to how many granola bars a person can consume in lieu of an actual plate-based meal.
  7. I thought I wasn’t a Zadie Smith fan. Actually I am. Quite a big fan.
  8. When given the opportunity to partake of a six hour road trip with complete strangers it is both wise and appropriate to jump at the chance. People who attend literary festivals are by default nice people, (already thinking of at least fifteen exceptions to this rule).
  9. Trying to accomplish actual creative writing at a literary festival is like trying to do Pilates in the middle of the London marathon.
  10. George Saunders once drove a deliver truck for a fried chicken joint.

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