Writing Process

What I remember + what I know by Christina Rosalie

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I didn’t mean to stop, only, there it is. Life has a way of finding you, amidst your best intentions. I love what this small challenge inspired. A rash of brilliant posts by my friend Amanda; photos to take your breath away my other dear friend Hilary, who always needs to be nudged to document; and a handful of other daily glimpses from friends and readers I don’t know, but feel like I know just the same.
I intended to keep on, but then the weekend came. Weekends have a way of filling up to the gills lately, and after the weekend, a work trip to Texas, planned to be short, but made longer by a cancelled flight and extra night on the way home in Phoenix, Arizona. So there it is, back to back days without a single chance to gather the moments here. To upload the images, or record the observations as they happened, though there are many notes scrawled in my notebook or jotted in the notes app on my phone. A chronology of circumstance. A record of the small things, and the big. Sentences that happened only in fits and starts, but never here.
What I remember is the heat in Texas and the rain that turned the sky to black. The century plants and cactuses that reminded me of my earliest years in Los Angeles. The heat of a blue sky filling with thunderheads, while down below we ate ate eggplant fries, and truffle oil reveled eggs, and catfish tacos.
Then non-time of the airport, reading Inc. cover to cover, and Elle, and also Fast Company, and feeling the ways something shifts in my brain when I have long stretches just to read and think. Ideas have a way of magnetizing then, like finding like; fragments converging.
What I remember is coming back so tired in the morning that after a cup of hot tea and checking email I took a nap, wakening hours later and not knowing immediately where the edges of dream ended and reality began. There, in bed with the dog curled by my hip, I let myself float in a way I rarely get to: between sleep and dreaming where thoughts are buoyant and things have wings.
There, and also in every waking instant, I’ve been thinking now about my new book. There are two actually. The ideas bookend each other. The narratives make a dialog, an equation, an equilibrium. I'm curious if I can pull it off.
What I remember is the sweetness of my boy’s when they came home from camp. Their hailstorm of yells and shouts finding me there at the doorway at the end of the day. Their arms around my neck, their kisses on my sounders, cheeks. Their fingers in my hair, and even still with them under foot, a different kind of kiss. Stirring, sweeter, finding T’s heat mirroring my own.
Then the weekend, dawning with rain. Making a raspberry crumble to share at dinner with friends. The biggest rainbow we’ve seen. The boys shouts. The first firecrackers for the Fourth echoing down the street. Twilight. Then Sunday morning bacon and good coffee. Painting the guest bedroom a fresh white. Baked chicken and mashed potatoes on the new walnut outdoor table T made by hand. White wine in handblown glasses. Watching the walnut leaves blow in the wind.
What I remember is this: to show up and to try is all it takes. To show up with the intention always is the start. I begin. I keep going. I go until I find my way. That, in the end, is all I know.
Now there is a reckless, rag tag folder now of drafts in Scrivner. It’s raw and new, but no matter. The beginning is here.
This is how it happens, friends. A book, or anything else. Any body of work, any essay, or dream, or plan begins with showing up; with training the mind to bow at the simple task of arrival, noticing the world.   #the5x5xchallenge

Happening in between by Christina Rosalie

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In between the time we come in through the front door and I drop my bag and the little one's backpack on the couch, settle the heft of a grocery sack on the counter, and drink a glass of water, the tempo of story is sounding out a quiet staccato in my head.
In between the time I cut up the purple onion and sauté it with thyme, adding the other vegetables, sweet Italian sausage and hot pepper flakes; and the time I slip out the front door away from the sound of the vacuum and the banter of the boys (Sprout constructing Lego structures, Bean making origami ninja throwing stars) words begin to scatter like raindrops at the beginning of a storm. No plot line, no finished sentences, just the ideas arrowing down in quick succession.
In between the time I sit down on the front stoop, noticing the way the light filters through the big-leafed tree above me, and turning my lens to find its flirtation with shadow, the orchestra is tuning at the back of my mind. Discordant, but persistent. The timpani, the saxophone, the violins striking out, querying, querulous. Nothing makes sense yet but this much I know: a book is in the offing, as inevitable now as the predicted rain. Here it is, happening in between, even as the ordinary moments continue.
The challenge, of course, is to pin the ideas down. The challenge is finding the steadfastness to listen hard, and then to show up at the page.

And, and, and, and... by Christina Rosalie

Notebooks - Christina RosalieI'm ready to let go of and.

Between the first of the new year, and my birthday (on Sunday!) a ritual of mine is to go back through the previous year's notebooks--capturing story blueprints, noting recurring patterns, and discovering hints and whispers of dreams that bear new significance in the light of reflection—in preparation another year’s journey around the sun. My notebooks (nearly always Molskine) are where I record everything: notes from client meetings, sketches, dreams, lines of overheard dialogue, to-do lists, memories, ideas, glimmers. Whatever my mind stirs up, I capture it there on the page.
The work of looking back is an opportunity to connect the dots, tie off old threads, and begin anew. Disconnected notes from months apart suddenly tell a singular story; certain to-do list items are easily crossed off, while other’s linger providing insight into where my sticking points and resistances might lie; and recurring themes emerge though I rarely notice them in the moment, too caught up, as I often am, in the act of doing.
Without realizing it, I was probably dealing with adrenal fatigue for most of last year, yet I never allowed myself to listen. I’d tell myself—there on the page, I feel exhausted in a cellular kind of way. I just need sleep. I just need to be outdoors. Then I’d ignore it entirely and keep right on pushing.
What’s interesting is how and where that little word creeps in. And.
How again and again, in trying to sort out what I really wanted to be working towards, where I should focus, or how I should proceed, I’d begin begin with singular declarative truth: just write.
But then I’d keep listing. And this, and that, and that, and, and, and.
Like an archeologist sifting through the artifacts of my own soul, I looked for evidence elsewhere and found it. Lists weren’t the only places and showed up. And was insidious.
I used it chronically, to the point that I regularly lead sentences with and; knowing full well I was breaking the rules each time.
What I never realized how this habit also revealed a character trait. What I never understood that my overruling grammatical norms with irreverent and hygiene, was symbolic of how I would chronically overrule my limits.
And overextends.
And says: don’t just do one thing, do many things. And says: one thing isn’t good enough, be many things. It says: You don’t really have to make up your mind. It says: you can do it all—this and that. It says: add a little more to your plate, and a little more. It says: have your cake and eat it too. Be this and that, bread and butter, now and later.
I’m ready to let all that go.
I’m ready to let go of contingencies and extraneous details and distractions that easily pull me off course and blur my focus. I’m ready to have this year narrow to the simplicity declarative sentences.I’m ready to lean into the power of committing to singular goals, one at a time. I’m ready to edit, revise, refine. To be. To write. To strengthen my core.
I’m ready to let go of and.
How about you?

This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on January 30th. Find all the details for this free event + join us here.

Three ways I think about writing when I'm not writing {Just One Paragraph 13/30} by Christina Rosalie

I show up to write a paragraph tonight after watching Silver Linings Playbook. It was good, though it wasn't what I expected, and now it's later than I expected. Still, I've done this small practice for enough days now that it feels like a habit. Enough days that I show up even late, just because. My fingers following words across the keyboard, right out to the edges of my thoughts.

I scribble notes as we're talking; our weekly conversation about the book we're gradually outlining. I draw lines, connecting notes, a geometry of ideas. Pattern recognition. I try to reconcile myself with the fact that I still don't have make enough time to write regularly for this project. Then I try make up for it by thinking about it in all the in-between times, my iPhone full with audio notes, driving to and fro. I haven't transcribed them yet.

I mow the lawn in concentric circles, my thoughts circling with me, sifting, growing steady with the repetition. Then it surfaces: the fiction story, the one that I read a snippet of aloud to my writing group, so rough that the characters barely lift off the page...and yet. I can't shake the characters. They have the makings of a story that matters. Next I catch myself thinking, "Why am I thinking about this fiction stuff, when I've got so many other things I should be writing?" I catch myself. Should. I make plans for fiction. Hours of it. Fuck should.

Germination + Creative Process by Christina Rosalie

Moisture hangs in the air. Storm clouds gather, then rain comes. It comes in torrents. Thunder rolls across the sky. Lightning illuminates the torn edges of clouds. The roads wash out. Again, and again. The hedges and blackberry bramble ditches are swollen. The woods are drenched. Everyone’s lawns are muddy beyond saturation. Each day the temperature climbs, then rain falls. Rinse. Repeat. It’s not the summer any of us were imagining really. Not the summer I imagined anyway as the last in this house: the garden beds flat squares of mud; the ground never dry enough to even plant tomatoes.
But there it is: expectations will always do you wrong.

We let our hair curl. We let the rain water fill the blue plastic pool, and then, when it’s warmed by the sun, we jump in, overcast or not, jumping until the water splashes our bare knees and shorts and arms. Wet, wetter. And when the sun does come, it’s like euphoria. Everything feels like neon. Brighter than bright. Truer than true, and when the clouds gather again, we keep our eyes trained on the places where the clouds snag; for torn corners of blue beyond the gray.
The car-load of moving boxes I picked up at a friend’s house are pliant and damp. Laundry comes out of the dryer, and waits to be folded on the couch, a snarl of cotton absorbing moisture from the air. And we try to go on about our lives, planning for what will happen next: for when the sun will come out again, and we live closer to town and pools and fresh bagels and friends. 

I can’t help but feeling at loose ends. Out of habit, out of practice. I’ve spent the past week cutting back, narrowing in, refocusing on self care. Nearly perpetual headaches and digestive distress finally caught up with me, as has all the radical change that is eminent, here, happening, about to happen.

My friend Willow said:

“So many things have happened in the past six months, and think how little you’ve written. You have to write to catch up with yourself.”
She knows me well.

And I’ve spent enough time watching my creative cycles--to know that I’m in a vital germination phase right now. There are big, awesome things that I’m working towards, but it’s the kind of slow work that happens below the surface where you can’t see it or really describe what’s going on, and yet it takes a tremendous amount of effort. There were other points in my life where I’m quite sure that this was happening too--and I can look back and see the outcome, and see how obvious that unseen growing time was--and I can remember feeling devastated by the apparent lack of clarity. The blurry edges. The slow motion effort, with no outward evidence of anything at all to show for all the struggle. Germination_ChristinaRosalie 
But I know this now: everything big starts unseen, and with great effort. All I must do now is write, and write, and write.

Tell me: how do you begin things? What’s your process like at the very beginning of something new?

On developing a writing practice: by Christina Rosalie

Developing a writing practice - Christina Rosalie>     It doesn’t matter what you write, it matters that you write.
It doesn’t matter if there are many good sentences. It just matters that in showing up you’ve cleared the way for a single good sentence.
There is also simply the fact of habit. That in creating it, in something done everyday at the same time no matter what, you develop some reflexive muscle for doing your work. It becomes automatic in a way, though not necessarily easier.
There will always be the in-bed bargaining. The first minutes of sleepy awakeness. But there will also be a goal streak to maintain. A promise with yourself to keep, and simpler than that: a habit that pulls you softly upright in the dark. That carries you to your chair with tea and stumbling fingers to begin.

How to find your true velocity: do less to achieve more by Christina Rosalie

Unfurling - Christina RosalieOutStandingInAField_ChristinaRosalie
I meant to write here all week, but then I did other things. Namely, slowing down until I was just doing one thing at a time. I've been exploring this since I began to muse about productivity last week, and part of my work right now is about finding my true velocity, between rest and motion, between production and inspiration, between input and output.
I'm taking the time to notice the impulse behind my actions, and am finding that though there is a tremendous difference between action and reaction, I think the lines become blurred. Isn't this true for for most of us? We’re so caught up in the doing of every day, that stress, exhaustion, and the standards of productivity we hold ourselves become the incessant refrain in our heads, do more! Do more! All we can do then, is react.
Yet we also know somewhere in our heart of hearts, that doing more isn’t the answer. Doing less is. Animals know this. They only exert energy when necessary. They run hard, climb wildly, mate with gusto, devour voraciously, chase, sprint, dart. And in between they come to a full stop. They rest unambiguously. The secret to our power is leverage. What lights us ablaze is a wholehearted alignment of soul with action. It's the right conditions and then the striking of a single match.
Animals have no trouble at all with doing one thing at a time. But we perpetually trying to do more. We say maybe when we mean no. We take on more because we’re afraid that whatever we’re doing isn’t enough. We scatter our attention because the heat of single-minded purpose threatens to consume us. And also, we’re terribly undisciplined. We're hedonists at heart, the lot of us, perpetually falling in love with whatever’s yet to be done.
This isn’t a new conundrum, though certainly it's more of a Western predicament. And it's certainly become more complicated since the world has gone digital and we have at our fingertips a perpetual black hole of distraction and possibility. In cleaning my studio I found a page I’d printed out with Henry Miller’s Commandments for writing. The first one? Work on one thing at a time until finished.
One thing. One thing. One thing.
But really, what I'm learning is that if I don't react, if I'm not always at the ready to respond, if I'm less accessible, it doesn't mean they end up getting less of me. Instead, the opposite is true. I'm able to show up with greater concentration and energy, bearing pineapples and little boys to make a messy meal, or to sit over sandwiches and catch up face to face instead of exchanging a flurry of partialities by text.
What about you? When do you spread yourself too thin? And conversely, when do you make time to focus wholly on just one thing?

Soon and now by Christina Rosalie

Soon. I keep saying that word. I like the way it rhymes with moon, the way it has a a softness in the middle--that holds the milky belly of a promise of time to come. Soon, like a an elastic band: the hope of it expanding and contracting with each passing day, the target always moving. Soon, like pebbles look under water: the way they appear closer from the surface, than they do from beneath it. Soon snow. Soon lovemaking. Soon holidays. Soon sudden laughter. Soon time off. Soon air travel. Soon the streets of unfamiliar cities. Soon a feeling finishing. Soon starting other things. Soon running. Soon paint. Soon night.

It's a word that belies the present. It's a word that moves like a mirage. It's a word that's full of home. It's a word that makes the skeletons and sweet bread of dreams.

I'm here, at the cusp of soon now, feeling how that word is an excuse, a target, an arrow, a pair of wings.

* * *

  You tell me: Soon __________________________________________________. What?  

Writing Process: wildness and resistance by Christina Rosalie

I make excuses. That my desk is a mess; that I’m tired; that I don’t know where to begin. And at leas that last part it’s true: I don’t know where to begin.

I can feel the grave way that I’ve fallen out of practice. The way the sentences don’t line up readily, evenly. The way things feel off kilter and I am impatient with sitting down to begin. But more than impatience, or off kilter, I can feel the way I’m right at the edge of something that’s been building, and if I start, the words will tumble out, saturating everything, reclaiming my present tense with the sudden brute force of a flood.

It's like this: If I don't write with consistency, it's almost like I stop knowing who I am.

My soul becomes a flume of driftwood and turbulence.

I'm telling you this because I have so many other things I want to tell you: about my trip to NYC, about my book, about this space and big things that I have planned for it, but whenever I sit down't to start, I can't stop writing, and the words I put on the page are these: wild and willful. That escape me, a sluice of sentences, and I am forced to remember that this is what, above all else, I am made to do.

What about you? What craft calls you? What claims you, marks you, and makes you whole?

This, right now: by Christina Rosalie

After the boys are asleep, I go back outdoors into the soft night with my notebook, and sit by the fire pit to watch the evening gather.

I'm here. Just here, at the edge of the sloping field where the grass is growing tall. Here, at the edge of the woods at the top of the valley. Here, where the sounds of a hundred different bird calls fill the gloamy twilight: finches, robins, grosbeaks, vireos, warblers, thrushes.

And then I hear a pair of geese, circling and calling as they do, and soon others find them, and they land, one after the next with a heavy-bodied splash in pond at the edge of the field below us. Their alto honking punctuates the dwindling sentence of day, and theirs is a message that I understand: to be right here. To let the air be everything, the softness be everything. The final calling of the robin and the first flight of the bat:everything.

Now there are crows with sooty backs and beaks and breasts, perching on the quince tree, and in the distance, the sound of traffic. Nearer, through the open windows of the house, the dryer clatters, tossing a load of delicates round and round, and above me the sky has been rinsed of blue.

It turns to lavender, then paler still, until it is the exact color of the blossoms on the lilac tree where the wind chimes hang and the birds go to rest after gathering seed from the feeder.

The air is sweet with woodsmoke and it smells like summer.

It smells like childhood, like family, and all the things I ever want to remember about traveling in a camper with my parents and sister: the Grand Canyon, Half Moon Bay, Point Reyes, Death Valley, Bodega, Four Corners, Pikes Peak, The Great Divide. We'd light campfires in the evenings, and do the very thing my boys did after roasting marshmallows tonight: burn the ends of long sticks in the licking flames, and then hold them aloft, smoke spiraling upwards into the gathering night.

The songbirds slowly settle among twigs and newly furling leaves in the woods, and the sky blushes with a final rose. Above me there are contrails, golden still, then fading to white, marking the path of silver-bellied planes, carrying people wherever it is they want to go above me.

And while they cross time zones and topographies, I am here.The peepers in the vernal pools beginning there tremolo chorus as night draws close, and this is all of my life, again and again.

We are no more and no less than the sum of the moments that make up our present tense. And this now, and the now after this will be marked by a gathering of clouds, and the last surprising flight of a dozen red-winged blackbirds overhead.


I've started writing again.

Mostly in my Molskine, with scrawling haphazard script. But I'm finding the moments, and feeding them slowly.

To show up, to show up, to show up.


How do you show up?

Kinfolk Vol. 3 by Christina Rosalie

Good morning! After a tender, quiet weekend full of work and small moments: toast and bacon and good cappuccinos, cleaning out my closets and building blanket forts with Sprout on the bed, and many hours spent in my studio writing (my thesis), it is a new week has begun. And I'm excited to share that a little piece of mine called "Morning Rituals" is in Kinfolk Volume 3.

It's the kind of magazine you want to hold in your hands: the texture of the pages, the heft of it, the dreamy grain of the photos, and words that inspire you to be right here.

Get yours. You'll be happy you did. Perfect for reading over breakfast with toast & bacon and small boys.

On a walk after sunset by Christina Rosalie

It's cold out tonight.The kind of cold that makes me fold my arms around myself, feeling my pulse in my glove clad finger tips, as my breath floats up in the air around my head like a halo or a thought caption.

My footsteps make loud sounds across the frozen ground as I follow the dog, clipped on a length of rope I've wrapped around my palm. She dashes off ahead following the wild scent of deer or squirrel or rabbit across the pale snow. I follow after. Lurching, stopping, feeling the way my heartbeat makes thunder in my ears.

It's cold the way it hasn't been all winter and my unaccustomed cheeks burn bright, while overhead the almost full moon, that bowl of milk, spills its light all over.

There are moon shadows at my feet, squat and dark, following now before, now after as I turn towards home.

The weather has been a yo-yo, indecisive, shaky in its course. One day the road's all mud; the next the puddles hard again while in the woods, the trees know their certain secrets.

On the mild nights, owls fill the woods at dusk; on the quiet days, silence. It is the same with my heart: lifting off and landing a thousand times right here. Startled, steady, mild, wild.

On writing: The song of my music box heart by Christina Rosalie

The snow is wet, but it's falling. The first snow, really, of this entire season. Flakes like goose down drifting from the torn featherbed of the quiet nigh time sky, yet I've already seen the robins with their fat vermillion breasts, and even though it's a leap year, February is almost spent.

I have until April. Until the twentieth, to be exact, to pull off something bright, provocative and well-researched for my thesis, and I have dozens of articles in a printed stack beside me; sheaves of evidence; proof of where my focus should be in every spare minute; in every fragment of time left at the end of the day.

And yet the only thing I want to do at the end of the day is write.

Like this.

I can feel myself, in the weeks when writing is scarce, become like a Bread and Puppet specter; a disjointed creature with long limbs and dark circles under her eyes.

Then, everything in me resists the pre-determined course I've vowed to take at 8pm: research, interviews, and organizing paragraphs to defend a logical conclusion. I become like a vintage music box too tightly wound: impatient, stuck, off key. It is the practice of writing; the meter of showing up; the tempo of reflection here, at the page, after twilight has been tucked into the soft dark pocket of the night, that unwinds the thin filament of my soul, and aligns the brass pins of my music box heart so that it can play again its winding calliope of song.

Making a book (Part 2): Finishing and starting by Christina Rosalie

I want to tell you about finishing at 3a.m., when every last image was uploaded, processed, and correctly named, and every combed over.

The house so quiet that it seemed to hum. Coyotes called when the moon came up, and later owls. A pair of screech owls in particular held a caucus: One shrieking to the other from the branches of dark trees—some kind of ruckus promise people don’t usually hear.

Each night for a week I watched the sky go from black to indigo in the pre-dawn hours, slept less than a handful of hours, and then woke to continue again, because the night hours are the only uninterrupted hours around here (when the only sounds are of dreams, and wind pulling around the house, and wild animals doing what they do.) Then, on a Wednesday night, finally, I was finished.

I went to bed quietly, folding into the pocket of warmth beside T like a small origami bird, with no one awake to witness those first moments just after I hit "send." And in the morning I woke to coffee and fried eggs and little boy yelling and the fact that I was at the beginning of something utterly new.

A new voice. A new angle + slant. A book for your hands to hold next fall.

There are so many things I want to tell you about the messy, beautiful, exhilarating process--and about what's next: The ideas and dreams and plans to come. On Monday: A post about creative constraints and the process of illustrating the book...

But for now, simply this: I couldn’t have survived without Coffee. Or chocolate (in terribly copious amounts.) Or hot showers. Or my small legion of superheroes: T, my in-laws and two friends in particular who, on their respective coasts, nudged and encouraged and pushed me to be my biggest, bravest, truest self.

And YOU.

You, the wanderers and wonderers who come here with bright words and big hearts. I'm so grateful, always for you and your comments. Tell me: When was a time you took an enormous leap? What did it feel like? What happened next?

On making the book (Part 1) by Christina Rosalie

I’m not sure where to begin: at the beginning, or at the ending, or right here, this morning, when I woke to the moon just slipping between the branches of the trees along the edge of the field, and Venus, a little higher up like a diamond against the pale lapis blue of the dawn sky. This is what I know now: that after a week where I stayed up so late I saw the brightening blue that comes before the dawn each day: the way the sky changes from dark to bright, the way the world begins to swell then with the sounds of birds, the way the trees shake off their silhouettes and begin to rustle and flutter with all the dimension of bark and branch and turning leaf.

The hills now are flame the way they turn each fall, and I stare at them in wonder, in awe that somehow together we’ve arrived here: Me and the hills, in fall. That the summer passed I have only this evidence: The garden entirely overgrown with weeds this year. The bright red peppers glowing like sparks among the two-foot high tangle of radishes grown to seed; the Mexican sunflowers offering a hundred yellow centers to the bees: bumble and honey and ground bees all coming and going with an urgency now, storing the last pollen they can find to turn to honey to stave off winter’s length and bite.

That summer came and went, I have only this: a six and a half year old with two missing teeth, and a two and a half year old who talks in full sentences and is afraid of owls and hot air balloons and loves to bring me pretend cups of coffee. “Are you writing again Mama?” he asks. “You want some more coffee?”

That summer came and went, I have only this: a six and a half year old with two missing teeth, and a two and a half year old who talks in full sentences and is afraid of owls and hot air balloons and loves to bring me pretend cups of coffee. “Are you writing again Mama?” he asks. “You want some more coffee?”

The monarchs have left the fields; and when we drive, we pass fields where the vines have dried to brown in the first hard frosts of the season, and the pumpkins lie exposed and orange like so many dots in a Serat painting. The hills are turning to flame. At night owls call, and coyotes wake us. In the morning the grass is drenched with dew or frost.

And I am here, at the beginning, at the end, right here in the heart of a vibrant autumn, and I finished the book.

I made a book. (And Yes. I totally got goosebumps writing that.)

I created an entire body mixed media work, turning my studio a storm of snippets and spilled India ink and gel medium and postcards and so many empty coffee cups. I spent the past three weeks working intensely

I want to write more about that process this week—because it was a glorious, immense undertaking that brought manifold lessons about what is possible, about creative constraints, about accepting help, and about urgency and drive and passion.

It split me open, gave me courage, terrified me, and made me absolutely certain of this one thing: This work is exactly what I am meant to be doing.

More tomorrow...Really, truly, excited about being back here.

I am in labor by Christina Rosalie

It feels like I am in labor, to be this close with the manuscript.

So close. But still, not there. Not where it needs to be. The final chapters dogging me, not quite right, not quite what they need to be yet. It's like some part of my mind is sabotaging me into this stasis: Like if I never finish, I won't have just risked everything, given everything I have.

Today the air is still heavy with humidity even after dark, and I keep circling, circling, trying to find another angle, another entry point to the words, to what I am trying to say, to what remains to be said.

The hardest part is that the whole thing is so many words. I get lost. I have to print the whole thing out and spread it about in fluttering sheaves across the floor. My studio is strewn, in shambles, with drafts. Some cut apart, taped together in new directions. It's like conducting an orchestra, this final compiling: Making each chapter vibrate in tempo with the next.

I'm experiencing some serious mental kickback. Exhaustion. Frustration. I second guess. I doubt myself. I read, re-read. Give up. Feel euphoric. Feel terrified. I'm at the same point just before transition in labor, where during the birth of both boys I yelled, "I can't do it. I can't."

That kind of close.

Today this was my distraction: Looking for awe in simple things. In the color green. In the gulls on the wind swept air. Now, back at the page.

When doing the work you love gets hard, what gets you through?

HELLO, I MISSED YOU! I'm back from my offline adventures. Some highlights: by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends!

Thank you for holding this space for me. Your comments when I came back on line a few days ago made my heart smile so very wide.

It was spectacular to take time off from the online world. To write, and write, and write. To notice things at a different pace. To fall in love again with dictionaries, with the sound of quiet, with paint on my fingers and my jeans. To feel fully focused, fully here, with only this intention: To write well and daily. To pull chapters together into a symphony of moments. To make sketches of illustrations still to come.

Now I'm back online, back to school on Tuesday, back to the pell mell pace of things. This September is crazy busy. I'll be contributing to a blog I love next week; finishing a piece for the fall/winter issue of Kinfolk (swoon!); finishing the illos for the book; prepping for a panel discussion on digital storytelling at the Burlington Literary Festival... and sort of holding my breath until it's all over....

In October I'm planning some lovely (and really big) changes around here, and finally, finally the rewards for my dear enduring Kickstarter backers who have waited more than a year now for me to send these goodies out... And the interview series here that I've been wanting to launch for so long. Super goodness. So excited.

Between now and then, I have so many photos to share from the past two weeks, and so many small stories: About tooth fairies, and rainstorms, gallery openings, quick summer meals and the process of making illustrations for the book...

Now it's your turn... Tell me: The 5 very best things that happened in the past two weeks. Go!

On making space for the work I am doing: by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends!

My semester ended today, and fall is in the air even though it's August still. You can feel it in the way the breeze is cool coming through the open windows in the morning, and the light is golden and slanted as it angles across the mountains after dinner. Twilight is already coming earlier. The corn, even though it was planted late because of the rains, has grown and grown through the hot July days, and is shoulder high now: fat ears with silken tassels waving on every stalk.

Between now and the beginning of next semester I have just exactly ten days of time that have nothing in them save for my book. Ten brief late summer days to finish the chapters that still refuse to be finished, and to revise and revise until the whole manuscript sings; then I'll send it off to my most trusted readers for one last look through, with a week or two on the other side for revisions.

And somewhere in that time, all the illustrations that have been slowly gathering, piece by piece on the wires I have hanging above my studio desk, need to come together too.

And all this feels momentous and utterly amazing. I sometimes still need to pinch myself to confirm: this is my life. I'm doing what I always dreamed of doing.

Still, it also feels completely overwhelming and daunting... Because, oh my, I am finishing the essays and illustrations for my first book! And there's more than a wee bit of pressure around it all.

And now I have ten days of time now that are just for this glorious daunting work and I've decided that I must use that time as wisely as I possibly can. I have been feeling spread awfully thin, and especially so in the digital space where I spend so much of my time learning and creating and absorbing. And I know how distracted I become under the urgency of deadlines, to slip down one rabbit hole after the next here: filling my mind with the snippets of news and headlines and information and inspiration.

So I've decided to take the next ten days off from the internet.

I've never done anything like this. The last time I didn't have a consistent internet connection was in 2004 when blogs were things people only talked about in whispered conversations or not at all, and people had no capacity to imagine the iPhone and the way it would transform us into a culture of being "always on."

I'm actually afraid of doing this.

I'm afraid of disconnecting. There are already a host of voices clattering in my mind: What if you miss something important? What if you miss out on some opportunity? What if you're forgotten? What if your readers stop reading? What if your twitter followers stop following you? What if your friends stop emailing, commenting, caring? What if you're not missed at all? These are the voices in the head of a girl who is always on, always connected, always engaged in the field of digital media. This is where I do my work, share my stories, and connect to my tribe.

And because I have so many fears, I know it is exactly the right thing to do. I need to trust that you'll still be here. That the story I am telling matters not only when I'm here telling it, but in the quiet times too when I'm creating new work with every fiber of my being.

I need to trust that opportunities will still find me; that inspiration will come knocking on other doors; that connections will happen in other ways.

Because the work that I am doing to bring this book to fruition is really really important work.

So I'm asking you this: Will you hold this space gently for me while I'm gone for the next ten days?

I'll be back then, with stories to share and magic to tell.

All the love in the world, Christina

Breakfast + Boys by Christina Rosalie

This is the last week of my semester. Then a little more than a week to work on my book flat out before projects for the next semester already resume. Cannot believe summer is almost over. Bean has a loos tooth. Sprout has started talking in complex and lengthy sentences all of a sudden. My book is almost done. Time = flying.

What have you been up to?


A glimpse into my studio right now: by Christina Rosalie

Working on illustrations for the book. Mixed media collage + digital + graphite sketches.


Also: A midsummer migrane; cicadas singing into late evening.; trying to remember to drink enough water + follow garment care instructions for washing; wishing for decompression; wrapping up projects for the summer semester; singing songs to Sprout until he falls asleep in my arms (a rare occasion for us both.)