“A Field Guide to Now” Author Christina Rosalie Dishes about her Creative Process and Living in the Present
“I begin to wonder what it might be like to trust this life a little more — to see things not as possible wrong turns or missed chances, but choices and progress and possibility.”
- Christina Rosalie, Author of “A Field Guide to Now”
Life sometimes has a nagging tendency that urges us to be busy, busy, busy and go, go, go, so you can imagine how delighted I was to have the opportunity to slow down, sit back, relax and breathe in this book. As I pored over each page, a sense of great peace settled into my skin. With remarkable ideas on mindfulness and living in the present moment, Rosalie provides the reader a “field guide” to transform the ordinary into something divinely brilliant … and like me, you’ll simply just want to get lost in it!
It required many long nights and early mornings, excessive coffee consumption, sacrificed moments of motherhood and as she likes to say, the obedience of “just showing up to write,” for Christina Rosalie to piece together the contents of A Field Guide to Now. But even after the arduous hours of hard work, Christina’s joyful disposition and humble outlook are only two of the countless admirable qualities which intrigue me about her. It is with great pleasure to announce that we’ve been given the opportunity for a special peek inside Christina’s whirling world. Today we would like to welcome Christina to our blog as she shares more about the process of writing, the challenges and rewards, and what inspired her to create such a thought provoking read.
Q: Christina, we’re curious, what were you doing before writing “A Field Guide to Now” and what inspired you to start writing it?
Hi there! Thank you so much for having me on your blog. Before writing “A Field Guide To Now,” I was writing, and getting paint on my jeans, teaching my almost-four-year-old son to climb trees, but that’s probably not what you meant, is it? Professionally, I’d been a teacher, and although I loved (and still love) the moment when a kid’s eyes light up understanding and excitement as they figure something out for the first time, I had become disheartened by the bureaucratic hoops and rhetoric of public education.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second son, I knew I didn’t want to go back to teaching as I had been, and that instead I wanted to lean in to the work of writing and creating with all of my energy and focus. That year—when my second son was an infant—is the year I closely documented in “A Field Guide To Now.” I began taking notes then, gathering in a file the inklings that eventually became the first draft for the book.
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.
And “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.
Q: During the process of writing your book, what obstacles did you run into and what was the most challenging part of the process?
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. I ended up writing the manuscript while attending graduate school full time, with two little boys under foot. And ironically, time was my greatest challenge.
Finding consecutive hours for creating is one of the greatest challenges I think 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.
Q: You describe the postcard images in the book that were inherited from your father to convey the idea of “impermanence.” How did the process of transforming the backgrounds into unique images affect you? Were they sentimental? Was it emotionally difficult to alter them from their ordinary state, or was it freeing?
That’s such an interesting question! I didn’t have much of an emotional attachment to them—oddly. They were collected from a time before I was alive, when my father lived an alternate life to the one I knew. Still, I was intrigued by them—by the fact that he’d bothered to collect them, and by the fact that each one captured a singular moment in time. And I loved that working with them gave me an opportunity to include him in my book in a subtle way.
Making the illustrations themselves was a tremendous task. I don’t think I fully anticipated what was required ahead of time—and I’m glad of that, for if I’d known I might not have attempted it at all.
It’s one thing to create one or two pieces of art, but it’s another thing entirely to create an entire body of work, with each piece illustrating an idea. I loved the challenge of it, particularly because their size constrained what was possible in many ways. When I finished the collection I found myself craving huge canvases and big brush strokes!
Q: If you had to narrow it down, what would be your favorite part/chapter in writing your field guide, and why?
My favorite chapters are “Give and Take,” and “For The Time Being.” Both deal with the fabric of relationships. The former, is about my relationship with my husband in a particularly turbulent time, and the form is quite experimental. It’s a series of vignettes exploring what showing up in love looks like for real. The latter is about loving and aging and loss. In both, I wanted to reveal more than just the ease of things.
Q: Do you have any regrets or feelings of “I wish I would have done _______ after the book was published?
I wish after I sent the manuscript off to my editor that I’d allowed myself to really pause and revel in the fact that I’d written my first book. I don’t know how I would have done it differently really, because I was in graduate school at the time, and moved almost immediately from writing “A Field Guide To Now” into writing my thesis. Still, I’ve promised myself that with my next book, I’m going to invite all my friends over the day I send the manuscript off and we’ll have lots of good food and plenty of wine and really celebrate!
Q: What did you learn about yourself during the creation and completion of this book?
…That risking everything and asking for support is always worth it.
…That starting is the easy part. Showing up the rest of the time is harder. Finishing harder still.
…That I don’t have unlimited energy, and sleep is more valuable than I routinely give it credit for.
…That now that I’ve written a book, I can write a better book!
Q: Now that you accomplished such a wonderful feat, do you have any desire to start on another book?
Oh of course I do. I’m in the beginning phases of writing two actually. One I’m writing with incredibly talented and insightful thought leader, creative peer and friend. The other is just me. I’m terribly excited about both, but because they’re in the very first phases of development I can’t share any more except to grin widely and block off more chunks of time on my calendar for writing!
How exciting! We’ll be waiting intently for your ideas on the horizon to reach their final destination; but until then, we’ll be focused on breathing in each moment as if it was our last. Thank you so much for sharing your story and new work with us Christina!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to invest your time in the present moment, click here to browse the beautiful pages of Christina Rosalie’s “A Field Guide to Now.”
For daily inspiration and motivation, check out Christina’s blog >>> www.christinarosalie.com
We want to know: What’s your secret to living in the moment and breaking out of your day-to-day routine?
Posted: Friday, April 19th, 2013 @ 12:25 pm
Categories: Mixed-Media Art, Uncategorized.
Tags: author, book, book review, Christina Rosalie, Field Guide, Q&A.
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