Monday's Musings - Being With Like-Minded People

By Mary Denman

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference
This past week, I had the pleasure of being the conference photographer for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. This means that I got to go around the campus, taking pictures of people and things that were of interest to me. 

I especially love the people part. Specifically, the head shot part. Writers need head shots for their business cards, blogs, and book covers. While I could just put everyone in front of a backdrop and ask them to tilt their head this way or that, I don't. We've all seen too many "posed" shots that don't look natural at all but are supposed to make us look our best.

Instead, I prefer to get to know my subjects. I ask each person about what they write. Is it serious or fun? That makes a huge difference in how their picture should look. Once I know what their topics are, I figure out how to capture that in their head shot. 

And I have to tell you, I love hearing what God is doing in their lives. I become friends with many people that I've done head shots for, keeping up with each other long after the conference ends. I say that I have the best job at Blue Ridge! 

Too, I loved being around fellow writers who understand what it means to have to apologize to their characters for leaving them in a bad situation in the novel. (Yes, I've done that...) Or have my characters do something that surprises me and take my novel in a different direction! Non-writers tend to look at me funny if I say such things....particularly, my kids. 

There's something so special about being with like-minded people for a while. Laughing together. Crying together. Learning together. 

I came back excited once again about writing. Excited about the path before me. Excited about using my photography to bless others. 

Carl Sandburg's Living Room
To cap the week off, I went to visit Carl Sandburg's home with authors and friends, Edie Melson and Alton Gansky. We listened as the Park Ranger explained why the house looks exactly like it did back in the 1960's, even down to the tissues on the tables. His wife and daughters sold the house to the Park Service after Carl's death and only took their clothes, leaving everything else behind, for the public to enjoy.  

Walking through the house, I thought about what life had been like there. 

Carl's gone, but his powerful words live on.

The act of writing is a solitary pursuit. We don't write in groups. 

For social people, that can be hard. 

But when we write well in solitude, our words have the chance to bless others for years to come. 

I need to find that solitude. To write, and write well. 

To put into words what I see with my eyes and feel with my heart. 

To capture on paper the beauty I see just as I try to capture a person's spirit in their eyes. 

JOY by Carl Sandburg

LET a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere--
Let joy kill you!

Keep away from the little deaths.

Live long and laugh loud! 



  1. Dear Mary, I met you at the conference and felt blessed. You are such a sweet, wonderful and talented woman of God. I am a Luddite but trying to learn to use the e- media. God bless and favor you, Mirjami Budarz

    1. Mirjami, it was wonderful to meet you! You are a precious woman of prayer. Thank you for encouraging me while we were there! I'm so glad you dropped by! :)

  2. How awesome it was to get to know you face-to-face! You're so much fun! Your pictures are so much more than photographs, they are a heartfelt expression of who you are.
    I'm praying for your mouth to heal.

    1. I feel the same way Sherry! I'm so glad we got to meet and that I got to know you better! :)

      The oral surgeon saw me today and thinks I'll lose the tooth. :( But I'm ready to get it out and start healing! :)

      Have a wonderful day Sherry!

  3. Carl Sandburg's home is one of my very favorite places to visit. I leave feeling inspired and energized...much like I do when I'm in your presence, sweet friend.

    You're an incredibly talented photographer and one day I'm determined to relax and enjoy the process. In the meantime, thanks for accepting me with all my photo-induced quirks. :)

    Thank you for last week.

    1. It was great to see you Cathy! You'll settle down in front of the camera one day and I can't wait for you to see you like I do! :)

      We need to meet for lunch soon! I'd love to catch up more with you! :)

  4. Love the Sandburg home.
    Pray you feel better soon. It was wonderful seeing you at Blue Ridge.

    1. You too Dee Dee! Keep an eye on Facebook...I have something for you. :)