Ian Philpot

This weekend I attended Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI. This was my second time at the biannual conference. Both times I’ve attended I’ve been representing Reliefof which I am the web editor. This means that I spent a good amount of the conference at the Relief table in the exhibitor hall telling people about the journal and meeting people who we have published.

The sessions I saw were incredible! This is in stark contrast to my experience at AWP. Though I only went to four sessions (all on Friday), I couldn’t have been happier with them. The first session was called “The Word Needs Flesh: Sex and Faith in Contemporary Writing” with John Estes and Amy Frykholm (a Relief published author). The second session was “From Page to the Screen: Adapting Novels and Short Stories for Film” with Scott Teems. The third was an interview of one of my favorite authors: Craig Thompson. The fourth and final session was Craig going through his graphic novel writing process. I ended the day at Calvin’s art gallery where some of Craig’s drawings were on display.

Here are some of the snippets that I took away from the sessions:

  • “We’re uncomfortable with our needs and our wants because they’re selfish and we don’t want to be perceived as selfish.” —John Estes
  • “The church can’t make you holy any more a school can make you smart.” —John Estes on self motivation
  • “If you don’t really look at pleasure, you can’t have discipline over it.” —Amy Frykholm
  • “Our job as adapters is to attempt and theme—attempt to portray the author’s intentions and sort out the themes to display to keep the audience interested.” —Scott Teems
  • “Once you’ve done something autobiographical, you’ve burned all your bridges and you’re free to do whatever you want.” —Craig Thompson on the creative freedom that opened up after writing Blankets
  • “Because of the paper canvas, comics feel like a letter from the author.” —Craig Thompson

I also had the opportunity to meet some new people who were very kind, entertaining, and nice from Antler, Rock & Sling (here’s a picture a the awesome banner over their table), Word Farm, and many more. I also had a great time meeting some of the Relief staff I hadn’t met before, like Jake Slaughter, Lyle Enright, Andy Koenig, and Tania Runyan. Our evening shenanigans were the best I’ve ever had at a conference, and I was sad that they had to come to an end. Great people.