Interview with Author Christina Rosalie | a Field Guide to Now

I came across Christina Rosalie online through her blog, back in 2007 when Trey was just about two years old.  I loved her beautifully detailed writing about motherhood (her eldest is the same age as Trey), teaching, being an artist, and the strong call to remain faithful to herself as an individual.

I continued to follow her writing over the years, at times getting away from blog reading but then checking back in and finding her still writing and still touching me with her truth. When Christina emailed me about a Spirit Session last year, I was flattered and a bit giddy. It felt a bit like meeting a rock star I had admired from afar.

The moment I met Christina it all came together. Looking into her smiling radiant face-watching her hands move as she talked…hearing her inflections …all added a softness and pure approachability to this woman I had been a bit shy about meeting. Her writing reflects a well of deep  strength, independence, confidence and courage that I was/ and am still working on honoring in myself … and her writing…..oh my goodness it just blows me away.

When Christina’s book, a Field Guide to Now, arrived from Amazon, I tore into it and couldn’t put it down. It is that good!

I highly recommend you go and purchase yourself a copy here on amazon.

I asked Christina a few questions about the book and thought you may enjoy reading what she shared with me…

Were the essays in the book originally written by hand or on the computer? 

That’s such a great question, and one I hardly ever get asked! I write in both ways. I write faster on the computer, and a lot of the revising and editing work that I do happens there as well. But there were–and are times when I’d feel really stuck and unable to get anywhere with a particular chapter–and then I’d take my notebook and work longhand, and there is a kind of freedom that happens then–away from the inherent distractions of the computer, and connected in a literal way, mind to body–that opens the door and invites the muse in.

Did you have a favorite writing spot, and/or time of day to write?

I love writing in the morning–because I’m still dreamy and my ideas and language feels new and playful then; unfettered by the sharpness and doubt of my analytical mind. But the work of revising, and really pulling an essay into chapter form–with depth and arch, and precision–that work requires several consecutive hours. And as a mama to little boys–the only time I ever get consecutive hours is when they’re in bed. Sleep deprivation is pretty much a constant in my world.

Were most of the essays written on the day of the experience or later?

If you go back through the archives of my blog, you’ll find the very first drafts of many of the chapters, written in real-time the same day as certain events  or situations occurred. But the final essays themselves, as they are in A Field Guide To Now, were written much later, through the lens of a different present; and that more immediate present also had its influence on the final outcome of each chapter.
Part my practice as a writer has always been to paying attention to the story as it’s happening; to take note, and to record it in the moment, in whatever way I can. That is why I’ve kept writing notebook for years, and also why I continue to love to blog.  Both are ways of capturing the moment as it happens. And the real, unfiltered stuff that is raw and full of the texture of emotion, is the stuff that with later thoughtfulness and reflection, can be distilled into a narrative that is more pure and universal. I think it’s this process of later revision and reflection that moves the story beyond the details of personal circumstance, to something each of us can relate to and understand.

Did you write consistently or more in bursts?

I had a pretty intense deadline for the book, and I was in my third semester of full-time graduate school when I completed it. I wrote every single day, and there were many nights when I would start after I put the boys to bed, and write from eight or nine at night until two or three in the morning.

What was your favorite part of creating this book?

I loved the moment when I knew what a chapter needed to say. When I’d find the sentence, the metaphor, the simile that carried the meaning from the deeply personal to something universal. That is what I love most about writing in general: that moment of discovery, when the universe collaborates. When things emerge out of the ether and effort of showing up.

 In the book you are so open about your inner thoughts and your relationship with your husband. As I read the book, I couldn’t help but wonder how he felt/feels about the book. 

My husband knew, going in  that I was, and always will be a heart-on-my-sleeve, what-you-see-is-what-you-get girl.  He also believes in my work with a tremendous, whole-hearted conviction for which I’m incredibly grateful. It’s huge—to have someone support you wholeheartedly! And it makes so much possible–in terms of my career as a writer and artist; and also in our lives as co-pilots, and lovers, and parents and adventurers.

He was my first reader, and the final proofer of the manuscript; and we made a few decisions about edits together—where certain things felt too open or exposed. But mostly, he’s just truly one of the most courageous people I know when it comes to self-growth—and like me, he’s interested in the mess, and in what lies beneath the surface.

We’re in our fourteenth year together, and the only thing that seems to hold us and sustain us and bring us back to center, is the willingness we share for showing up with intention in the heat of the moment, and learning from that vulnerability. Because it’s there, at the heart of things, when all the outer layers of prettiness and pleasantry are peeled back, that real growth occurs.

Do you have a second book in mind? 

I do! It’s in this lovely, nascent, dreamy place right now, where it’s just inklings and murmurings. I know from having written a book now, what the process feels like—how to pay attention at the beginning, and trust the process. Right now the story exists only as questions in my head, but recently I’ve begun a new notebook, and the ideas are finding themselves there.

Bio:
Christina Rosalie is a writer, mixed media artist, digital strategist, and mama of boys. Her work has been published in Kinfolk, The Sun, Mothering, and The Los Angeles Review, and in various other publications both online and in print; and her most recent artwork, a series of ten mixed-media pieces titled, “Making Your Mark” was recently featured at the Burlington City Arts gallery. Christina has an MFA in Emergent Media from Champlain College, and lives with her family in northern Vermont. Visit her at christinarosalie.com, where she writes about the art of living intentionally; the process of navigating motherhood and creativity; and the realness and hilarity that ensues when sleep deprivation, curiosity, and stories collide. You can also follow her on twitter:  @christina_write.