Writers Colloquium 2007

At Earlham School of Religion's 16th annual Ministry of Writing Colloquium, Haven Kimmel's keynote address explored the connections between Quakerism and writing.

"I thought a great deal about how, without my seminary education, I could never have written the three novels that compose the Hopwood County Trilogy," she said. "I thought about that, but more importantly, I thought about how a life spent in the Society of Friends uniquely prepared me to be a writer altogether."

Kimmel, an alum of ESR's Ministry of Writing Program, began her best-selling memoir A Girl Named Zippy while a student here. She has gone on to write another memoir, three novels, including the just released The Used World, and children's books. A young adult novel will be released within the next year.

Calling the novelist's encounter with the blank page or computer screen A Meeting for Writing, she argued that "I don't get to dictate what I'll be told, or even what I'll write. . .responding to the lure of God takes courage, and often that courage means sitting down and beginning."

"If I had to name the single greatest detriment to the writing process, and I'm talking about for myself and every other writer I've ever met—it's ego. If I had to name the single most corrupting force upon a document? Ego. The worst posture with which to begin, the most painful and immovable obstacle to Beauty, the voice that says what you've written is perfect just like it is and doesn't need editing: it is the hunger for attention and approbation that killeth, while the Spirit giveth life."

Joining Kimmel at the Colloquium as workshop presenters were leading Quaker Spirituality writers Brent Bill and Howard Macy, award-winning poet Maurice Manning, and editor Amy Lyles Wilson. Lil Copan from Paraclete Press and Katie Terrell from Friends United Press offered publication advice.

Approximately ninety people attended the October 26-27 weekend event which included a Friday evening reading by Bill, Kimmel, Macy, and Manning, and a Saturday evening coffee house with an open mic.

Next year's Colloquium is scheduled for October 24-25, with Robert Wicks as the keynote presenter.