christina rosalie : artists who blog

Christina Rosalie is a gifted multi-talent: mixed media artist, writer, creative consultant, and the author of the gorgeous and intensely personal book A Field Guide To Now: Notes On Mindfulness and Life In The Present Tense

Her award-winning writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Review, The Sun, and Blue Print Review. She writes about creativity, taking action, mindfulness, motivation, and motherhood at and on Twitter at @christina_write.

I had the pleasure of reading Christina's beautiful book recently and of course I immediately wanted to interview her! I know you'll enjoy Christina's responses about her sources of inspiration, her process, and how she balances her creative work with her family life.

Welcome Christina! Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and how you started writing and making art.

I am a writer and mixed media artist, a creative catalyst, and a mama of boys.

I’ve carried a notebook about for as long as I can remember. I kept sketchbooks before I knew how to string words together on the page into the sentences and paragraphs, and when I learned that magic I began to write. I’ve never stopped. Now, if I am not writing, I am working with creative business and entrepreneurs to launch ideas through my newest co-venture, Superconductor Co.

Before I began doing the work I currently do in brand strategy and marketing, I was a teacher. I loved the work of helping kids make meaning, and the spark in their eye when they’d figure out for themselves some key bit of information. I didn’t love the bureaucracy and politics of public education though, and I wanted to make an greater impact through my creative work than I could within the confines of the classroom. 

Still, much of my approach to working with clients is informed by my years as a teacher—and it’s something that differentiates my approach from many others who work in my field. I listen actively and intuitively for the subtext of narrative, and then find ways to bring that narrative to light across multiple platforms and media.

We'd love to hear more about your beautiful new book A Field Guide to NOW. What inspired you to write this book?

When I found out I was pregnant with my second son, I decided for certain that I would not return to the classroom as a teacher, and that even if it meant risking everything, I was ready to make my work as a creative front and center in my life.

That year—when my second son was an infant—is the year I closely document in A Field Guide To Now. The economy was faltering then, and everything in my life—my love, my work, my sense of purpose—seemed tenuous. I was struck again and again by how the only real certainty we have, is in the moment we are actively living, and I began to wonder how my life might change if I brought my attention differently and wholeheartedly to the present, instead of rushing on ahead—doing the day to do the day, so to speak. 

A Field Guide To Now is the outcome of that exploration. It’s a guidebook for living in the present tense of your life in the midst of uncertainty, and my greatest hope is that it offers readers some guidance for finding within their ordinary moments, the creative resources, energy, and inspiration to live a bold, inspired, and meaningful life.

Was it scary to write so personally about your family life in this book?

This is a question I often am asked, and it’s surprised me in a way. I’ve never been interested in the surface of things. I’m interested in what takes place beneath—in the turbulent or quiet rivers of emotion that we channel through our bodies and our lives. In the mess and fallibility of our interactions; the way our lives are always uncertain and impermanent. I wanted this book to be an invitation to go below the surface—beyond the perfectly curated stuff that occupies the surfaces of all our lives.

I don’t know that I thought in terms of scary or not scary when I wrote the book though. The entire act of writing has always felt at once utterly essential, and utterly terrifying. It’s a dance with the muse, with the unknown. I never quite know where the piece will take me, once I begin. Yet if we’re not willing to risk everything to find meaning, then what is the point?

I think what’s maybe most interesting about writing openly about a particular time in my life is that since then my life has shifted, and then shifted again. Certain themes remain the same, but nearly everything else is different. That newborn baby in the first few chapters? He’s four years old and talking about water dragons and car transporters. Time passes in a blink. I continue to be struck in awe by that.

Could you please tell us more about some of the topics you cover in your book and why you chose them?

A Field Guide To Now consists of 24 short essays, each one book-ended by an illustration and some field notes for the reader. The field notes are arranged alphabetically, and each chapter is structured so that it is a stand-alone essay that is also loosely linked in an overall narrative arc. I loved the idea of extending the form of a traditional field guide, to this unconventional territory of moments.
In a  typical field guide you might find into the plumage and tracks and habits of creature you’ve only caught a glimpse of for an instant. In the same way, I wanted to make a book that would offer insight into the ordinary, fleeting, and remarkable moments of daily life—birth, loss, aging, love—each explored  through the intimate, personal lens of the moment.

What were some of the biggest challenges and highlights of having your book published? 

From the time I first began gathering notes for this book, to the time I actually began writing the manuscript that was published by Skirt! many things radically changed in my life.

Initially, I pitched the book as a Kickstarter project (back when that platform was fairly new and small) and because of that initial act of committing to the project and of asking for support, Skirt! Books found me, and indicated that they were interested in publishing A Field Guide To Now. By the time I’d written a proper proposal and they had sent me an offer, I’d been accepted to an MFA program in Emergent Media. And so, in an adventurous and busy turn of events I ended up writing the manuscript while attending graduate school full time (with two little boys under foot.) My greatest challenge was finding time to do it all—the irony of which is not lost on me in the least J.

I think the challenge of finding consecutive hours for creating is one that any artist who is also a parent faces, and women historically have gotten the short end of the stick in that regard. It’s inevitably a give-and-take between children and creative work, and there are many days when the hours, no matter how they’re stretched, aren’t long enough. In my case though, I do have a tremendously supportive co-pilot in my husband, and he picked up all the slack in my many hours absent. Still, there were many nights when I’d write until 3AM, having only started after our boys were in bed.

The greatest highlight? Receiving remarkable, wonderful, and deeply moving emails from complete strangers about how A Field Guide To Now has affected their lives.

Do you have tips for someone who would love to write and illustrate her/his own book? For instance, how to develop a successful book proposal and practical suggestions on finding a publisher?

In a sentence: Just show up. Show up again and again, day after day to do the work. So much of making a book is about that. It’s rather un-glamorous really, and isn’t nearly as exciting as the initial moments of a good idea, or the final moments when the book’s been published and is there in your hand’s for the first time. But it’s that work of showing up that really matters.

Please tell us about your creative dreams for 2013 and beyond. What are future projects would you love to work on?

I am currently working on a really exciting hybrid retreat/workshop/e-course for writers who want to create a publication-worthy body of work. It will be a very selective small group, with some incredible resources and partnerships to support the group along the way.  I’m so incredibly excited about the potential and possibility that is emerging as the plan comes together! I’ll be sharing more about this in May. 

If your readers are interested in finding out more about it, they can sign up for my newsletter where I share first-glimpses at everything I’m working on including my someone spontaneous pay-what-you-can studio sales, and little tidbits of insight and inspiration. 

Thank you Christina for joining us today! I appreciate your time, thoughts, honesty, and eloquence! xo