Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Creative Process” Category

Patience is the destination

Posted on November 24, 2014

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Hello friends. I’ve missed this little corner of the world. Missed the routine of showing up, of documenting simply, day by day. Of taking notice, and hearing in turn how your worlds align and turn. I like that asynchronous connection. The moments of inspiration and reflection that come of shared moments across time. The stories that find their way into the comments. The wayward emails I get, reminding e we’re all connected, and my words find their mark in New Zealand or Sweden, Buffalo, under feet of snow, or in Burlington, where my muscle memory is still strong, and winter has already gathered close.

Here, autumn slips towards winter gently. The rains have started, but each day there are moments of brightness, and in them we rake leaves, look up at the sky and find rainbows, or walk to the cafe among the rose gardens for chai tea in the afternoon at work. Still, it’s taken until this month to feel a gradual settling of routines, and a steadiness in orbit here.

In the cafe yesterday while writing, I overheard someone say, “Patience is the destination.”

I couldn’t help thinking that they’ve got it exactly right. Flannery O’Conner only ever finished three pages in the three hours she wrote each day, and Gertrude Stein even less, though both I think understood the secret is just showing up steadily for something. Stein said, “If you write a half hour a day, it makes a lot of writing year by year.” The accumulated truth of persistence. The evidence of patience on the page.

All this to say I’ve begun writing again, stories this time, slowly. I write for three hours on Saturdays, and find that with this routine I’ve begun to be increasingly able to just sink in and write when I get to the cafe and order a coffee. In between times the story lives with me. The scenes find me vividly and sometimes I’ll write notes, like today while running on the treadmill I could hardly wait to finish three miles so I could jot down what I’d worked out.

I’ve stopped expecting I’ll finish anything with any kind of speed, and with that release of expectation I’ve found a new kind of focus for my work.

Still, it takes commitment. To showing up. I’ll be working on this new material at the Tin House winter Writer’s Workshop in January, staying in the Sylvia Plath Hotel on the Oregon coast for a long weekend, and for this opportunity thrilled. It’s a way to remind myself of who I am. Of putting a stake in the terrain that is my life, as a writer, even as I am also other things.

Happy August!

Posted on August 2, 2014

How is August? How? How do I have a nearly fourth grader who wakes up every morning and sits cross-legged on the couch, shirtless, tan, his hair a bed-head tousle, and reads. How is my baby an almost kindergartener, his body suddenly that of a little boy’s, lean-muscled and strong. How is it possible that I live here in this glorious city, in this snug little bungalow. How are these streets that I’ve begun to love dearly the place I now call home?

Yes, summer is a time of incredulity for me. Almost every year it catches me by surprise. The wonder of summer. Its extroversion. The way the days blur into evenings. The way we disregard bedtimes, and loll about on Saturday mornings kissing. The golden afternoons that find us one after the next like a dream. The air-conditioned days indoors spent working on projects with some of the smartest, coolest people I know. The blue skies. The muddy knees of my boys at the end of the day. The late nights on the back porch with wine as the walnut leaves rustle. All of it happens in such a full-saturation blur, that each day I wake wide-eyed and feel more in love with my life than the day before.
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I know I’ve been quiet here. Summer seems to make this so. We’re so busy being out in the sun-drenched world that there’s less time for retrospection and recording. I’m enjoying every minute of it, and also looking forward to the simple routines and rhythms of fall.

Heads up: I’ll be doing a summer songbird studio sale at the end of August–featuring the newest set of hand-painted + collaged postcards I’m working on–in response to your demand from the last sale! Do sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t, to get first dibs when the sale goes live. I’ll be doing this one a little differently than the last one, so stay tuned.


Finally: Some of you still seem to subscribe to my blog via my old My Topography url, which I made the terrible mistake of forgetting to renew. It’s now been taken over by spammers and some of you have emailed me that you’re getting unexpected content in your feed readers. Please update your RSS feed to christinarosalie.com!


Happy August friends!

What I remember + what I know

Posted on July 1, 2014

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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

The things that waken me

Posted on June 19, 2014

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What I like about this place where I now live is that the lines are never familiar, and because they are never familiar, I’m always in a state of wonder, always stoping with my camera, recording glimpses, taking note.

Wherever I look there is texture. Stubbled grass. Lawns rife with clover. Murals. Graffiti. Billboards. Tattoos that flirt. Laughter that lifts off cement walls. The almost unbearable beauty of blossoms. A harsh geometry of windows. Ice cream spilled on the sidewalk, and the dog that licks it up. The lengthening shadows of the blue hour. The sky after dusk, indigo and saffron. The scent of lavender and roses. Cherries dimpling the sidewalks. The next door neighbor’s lilting Spanish. The staccato of a basketball being dribbled. The grapes along the gate. The green walnuts dropping to the back deck. The people at the bus stop, yelling. The boys on skateboards. The guy with the fresh haircut. The lovers sitting, knees touching at the cafe.

All of it.

I can’t explain quite, the effect it has on me to be living in a city as beautiful as this one, other than to say it wakens me. It whets my senses. It calls me to attention, each small moment going any place is an opportunity for close noticing.

Creative rhythm + some time at the coast

Posted on June 16, 2014

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The past two weekends, though I’ve committed to the #5x5challenge, I’ve been off the grid. Though I’ve taken many photos, and shared some on Instagram, I’ve had no chances to slip away, get some internet connectivity and post.

There’s something that feels right about letting there be a rhythm to these posts. I like the regularity, and the commitment during the week, and also the exhale on the weekends.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about rhythm lately, and how we’ve created a culture that doesn’t allow us to exhale much. Since dealing with adrenal fatigue last fall and winter, I’ve forced myself to do that more: to step back, let go, forget whatever definitions I have of perfect.

I’m curious about how you experience rhythm in your creative lives, and in your work lives. When do you give yourself permission to leave gaps, let things go unfinished, fall to pieces, give way to entropy–and when do you persist?


Here are a few of my favorite glimpse from the weekend, getting some soul medicine on the beach with messy hair and sandy feet and the people I love.


Back to the #5x5challenge tomorrow. In the meantime here are a few of my favorites from #5x5challenge contributors this past week:

Food as art

Birthday Party

Expiration Dates

Coffee with cream

Late Afternoon

Seemingly Perfect

Small noticings

Posted on June 13, 2014

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Today this practice is about really sinking into the moments as they come, with full sensory awareness. Riding my bike to work and arriving early to pour a cup of hot coffee and pull together disparate notes into cohesive sentences. Yes, my desk is strewn with paper.

Today it is about noticing small. It’s about the sun on my neck at 11 a.m. slanting sideways through the window above my head, and about walking out for lunch at 2, just in time to smell the scent of rain on dry earth as it begins to fall; ozone torn from the sky. Petrichor. How I love that word.

Today it’s about noticing the markings of this city: half worn away billboards, unexpected stencils, the tattooed arm bands on the guy that holds the door for me, the sweet tangle of wild roses along a walk and stopping to plunge my face in. Breathing, until the sweetness is inside my lungs.

Happening in between

Posted on June 11, 2014

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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.

The 5×5 Creative Challenge

Posted on June 4, 2014

I’ve decided to do a simple creative challenge for June—to get back in the habit of noticing closely and taking note of what I see.

If you’d like to join, I’d love to see what you take note of daily! Share your name in the comments here, and then come back daily + share a link to what you’ve posted in the comments each and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peak.

The Rules:

1. 5 SNAPSHOTS WITH YOUR CAMERA.
Point your lens. Pull out your iPhone. Notice the little things. The way the light slants. The way their faces look. Whatever moments stand out: The small ones, the important ones, the ones that are fleeting. Quick snaps are good. Careful focus is good too. Pick your favorite 5 + post daily.
 
2. ONE 5-MINUTE SNAPSHOT WITH WORDS.
Take a break from whatever it is you’re doing, sometime each day this month. Set a timer and take notice of the world around you. Then write. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, know? Who is around you, where are you? Create a 5-minute snapshot with words daily.

How about trying this for 25 days in a row? 5×5.

Try it rest of June. Ready, set, go!

{The official hashtag for Twitter + Instagram is: #the5x5challenge }