2013 Ministry of Writing Colloquium

November 1-2, 2013Writing Through FailureFeaturing Keynote Speaker Jana Riess

Conference Brochure
Printable Registration Form

Keynote Speaker:

Jana Riess

Jana Riess is the author of Flunking Sainthood, The Writer’s Market Guide to Getting Published, What Would Buffy Do? and several other books. Her newest book, releasing in November 2013, is The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor! She holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University.

Keynote speech: Writing through Failure “Get back on the horse that threw you,” Margaret Atwood said recently, in reference to her many failures as a writer. But she also observed, “You learn as much from failure as you learn from success.” Why is the process of writing often so heartbreaking, its lessons so hard-won? In this session, Jana Riess shares stories of failure—failure to publish, failure to write what’s in our hearts, failure to be “successful,” whatever that means—and points to writing as a spiritual practice. As a practice, it is the work of a lifetime, marked more by failure (or our perception of failure) than by success. Maturity for a writer—and anyone on the spiritual path—means coming to terms with failure and finding ways to incorporate its teachings into our writing and our lives.

Schedule of Events

November 1     

ESR Center

6:30 pm

Registration & Check-In

7:00 pm

An evening with the presenters: session leaders read from their works



November 2

ESR Center

8:15 am

Registration & Breakfast

9:00 am


9:30 am

Keynote Presentation: Jana Riess - Writing through Failure

10:30 am


10:45 pm

Workshop Session I

12:15 pm


1:30 pm

Workshop Session II

2:45 pm


3:00 pm

Closing Gathering - Announcement of Mullen Writing Fellowship

4:30 pm

Open Mic/Coffee House



Workshop Leaders and Descriptions

Writing Your Memoir - Jana Riess

Many people yearn to write a memoir but don’t know how to go about it. In this workshop, Jana Riess shares techniques for focusing your memoir, choosing what to include, and finding your unique voice. Part of the workshop time will be devoted to crafting a brief personal story after receiving a writing prompt. Whether you envision your memoir as a legacy for your family or something you hope to publish for the wider world, this workshop will help you begin to tell your story.

Writing Our Image of God - Anna Woofenden

How does our image of God affect the way we see and interact with the world, other people, and the Divine? As writers, we enter the place between the unnameable and the named. In this workshop we’ll explore various images of God through writing and conversation. Examining our childhood and current images of God can uncover insights in how we view the world, other people, and ourselves. Examining the ideas of God in our culture can offer us a window to look at how we respond to tragedy, how we treat the earth, and how to interact with gender imbalances, to name a few. As we focus our attention around images of God through our writing, we’re invited to encounter the Divine with new eyes and to find words to name this unfolding for others.

Anna Woofenden is a student at Earlham School of Religion and the Swedenborgian House of Studies. Having worked in ministry settings since 1998, she’s thrilled to be in seminary and is looking forward to using this training and formation to launch into ministry in new forms. Learn more at www.annawoofenden.com.

Field Guide for Your Creative Journey - Amy Lyles Wilson

Where do I start? How do I map out my creative project? Do I have to sign with an agent? What about feeling blocked? Creative souls confront myriad detours on their journeys, from the mundane to the monumental. Whether it’s proper grammar, daily discipline, or fear of success that threatens to throw you off track, we’ll use hands-on prompts, brainstorming, and Q&A to uncover the tools you need to keep your dream moving forward. Just starting out? We’ll talk about developing solid creative practices. Almost at your destination? We’ll look at ways to get your work noticed. Should your next step require a simple repositioning or a major rerouting, this workshop makes for a reliable and inspiring travel companion.

Amy Lyles Wilson is a writing and creativity coach who has worked in publishing since receiving her master’s degree in journalism in 1986. She served as an adjunct writing professor and writer-in-residence at ESR in 2013, and was the Patrick Henry Writing Fellow there in 2003. Wilson earned her master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School in 2007. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, as well as on National Public Radio. She leads workshops and retreats on such topics as creativity, spirituality, and grief. Learn more at www.amylyleswilson.com.

More Than Mere Words: Life, Spirit, and Power - Marcelle Martin

Accounts of spiritual experience can convey a power that moves the reader profoundly, affecting more than the mind or emotions. This workshop will use experiential exercises to identify some of our most transforming spiritual moments. We’ll practice writing from the deepest part of ourselves, finding words to describe our experiences in ways that help enliven the Spirit in others. We’ll read aloud and appreciate each other’s writing.

Marcelle Martin has been working for two decades with individuals and communities to help increase awareness of the presence and activity of God among them and in the world. She served for four years as the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill and has facilitated workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the country. She is the author of the Pendle Hill pamphlets, Invitation to a Deeper Communion and Holding One Another in the Light, as well as the 2009 Michener lecture pamphlet Deeply Rooted. She was the 2013 Mullen Writing Fellow at ESR to complete the manuscript for her book In the Life and Power of God: The Quaker Spiritual Journey. Her blog, A Whole Heart, can be found at www.awholeheart.com.

Writing Poems No Matter What - Jeff Hardin

Writers often go through fallow periods—a week, a month, even several months—but what if knowing the possible “conceptual strategies” of poems could all but eliminate writer’s block? In this session, we will explore 14 “conceptual strategies” for generating and shaping poems, each a different “kind” of poem so that, no matter what, we canalways   be writing.

Jeff Hardin is a poet and the author of Fall Sanctuary, recipient of the Nicholas Roerich Prize, and Notes for a Praise Book. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Hudson Review, North American Review, Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Measure, Ploughshares, Mid-American Review, The New Republic and elsewhere, and have been reprinted on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. Jeff teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee, and his website is www.jeffhardin.weebly.com

The Art of the Interview: Spicing up Non-Fiction - David Carlson

Humans seem to naturally enjoy listening in on the conversations of others. While readers may find page after page of an author’s thoughts and research a bit tedious, the same readers are often drawn into writing that includes interviews. This workshop will offer advice and practice in the “how tos” of effective interviews:  how to choose interview subjects; how to create compelling interview questions; how to edit interviews for non-fiction writing; and how to include the effects of such interviews on you, the interviewer.

Dr. David Carlson is the Charles O. and Kathleen B. Van Nuys Deans Fellow in religious studies at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. He received his B.A. degree in political science from Wheaton College; his B.A. degree in biblical studies from American Baptist Seminary of the West; and his Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In addition to teaching, he also writes editorials on religion, politics, and culture for the Daily Journal, the Columbus Republic, and the Indianapolis Star. David’s book, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, published by Thomas Nelson in 2011, was given a starred review by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Library Journal also named Peace Be with You as one of the best books of 2011 in the area of spiritual living.

The Colloquium will be held in the ESR Center at the northeast corner of the Earlham Campus. A $65 registration fee ($70 late registraion fee, and $25 for students) covers all colloquium events, including Friday night readings, the keynote session and two workshops, Saturday continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments, and the reading/open mic Saturday night.

For more information, contact Mandy Ford, Director of External Relations at (765) 973-2158 or email fordma@earlham.edu.

Event Date: 11/01/2013 - 7:00pm - 11/02/2013 - 5:00pm