photos of Amy Julia with people she connected with at the Festival of Faith and Writing

Connecting With People in Real Life | Festival of Faith & Writing

I don’t know how to capture the experience of the Festival of Faith and Writing last week. Of course, I listened to compelling speakers. And I loved preparing and offering my own words—first in conversation with Hilary Yancey and Kevin Timpe about writing about our children with disabilities, and later in a talk about intellectual disability in literature.

But what really mattered about being there was connecting with people in real life. I have worked with Amber Beery—my indomitable, faithful, unbelievably helpful, perceptive, fantastic social media coordinator—for four years now. But last week, I met her in person. It’s strange how much joy it brings to walk and talk side by side rather than through a screen.

The same was true with meeting Jemar Tisby in person for the first time. We’ve talked multiple times over the years, but face to face brought a different experience of joy. Not to mention getting to eat cheese and prosciutto and drink wine and share stories with my old friend Micha Boyett. Or the women who used to write for her.meneutics together, or the women in INK. Or the men and women who have read my work over the years and wanted to talk about it, or thank me for it. What joy.

As it happens, I also have a friend who has a son with Down syndrome who lives in Grand Rapids, where the Festival was held. I met Bo when he was an infant, but this was the first time I’ve seen him since. Getting to snuggle up next to his sweet five-year-old self felt like all that joy might bubble over.

The publishing industry is changing. It’s hard to know whether I’ll ever feel stable as a writer or speaker. So in the midst of that, I’m grateful to remember that books matter, that stories change lives, and that connecting with people fills me up.


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