Christina Barnes is the author of Wildly Human, a modern-day series of fables. It warms me down to the very depths of my fairy tale telling soul. 🙂
So, Christina, how did your book come to be?
It was never planned. It came about in a very back-asswards way. I have always been a visual artist. Painting, sculpture, drawing, upscale jewelry design, all the visual things. I have worked in Photoshop for about 20 years. A little over 3 years ago, my life fell apart, mainly because I pulled the plug, then stood back and watched. Picture pulling the plug while your computer is doing something it should not be doing. Then picture shooting it. Just kidding. No animals were harmed writing ‘Wildly Human.’
Anyway, I wrote a very raw and anonymous blog during my divorce, on my divorce. Somehow, I ended up with a lot of photography bloggers. One in particular inspired me as she took extraordinary photos of ordinary things. I bought a point and shoot to take on walks with my aged dog. She walked very slowly, so I took a lot of pics of roadside garbage. I experimented making the garbage pretty in Photoshop and ended up getting a show. I felt like a fraud, but I went ahead with it.
After that, I thought I’d check out dating sites, but not as the ‘real’ me. I created photos of myself placed in odd settings as I really didn’t want a date, just wanted to research personality types I needed to stay away from. I was inspired by all the men who wanted you to see them standing in front of the Great Wall of China. I thought, “I could do that, but I don’t have to go there.” Unimpressed by tourism, I ended up inserting myself in the flappers of an abandoned car wash, emerging with a white towel on my head and another white towel wrapped around my body, like a day at the spa. I thought it was hilarious, so shared it with my friends. One wanted me to do a book for her autistic son. Insert him in odd settings and she would write the stories. It was an owner’s manual for a 5-year-old, autistic boy. He decided I had magical powers. I found I liked taking photos and writing. A fraud with no formal training or professional aspirations, is born.
Another friend and I went on photo outings, mostly to take pics of animals. I worked with my photos and created little one line verses for them based on the zillions of self-help and spiritual books I’d read. I printed them and went to a show. My booth was busy, but people didn’t get them and I didn’t feel they were “home décor.” So, I decided to write a book.
I wanted my book to help women who had been through or were sharing my similar experience with hopelessly challenging spouses and partners. Many blame themselves as we are raised to be codependent females. But it was such a heavy topic. So, I went the way of fairy tales and metaphors, used few humans as we don’t judge animals, plus they are so much easier to work with. And THAT is how ‘Wildly Human’ came to be.
Have you done, or do you plan, any projects that take you way out of your comfort zone?
I have a short attention span, so I do something once, to the best of my ability, and I am off to something else. EVERYTHING is uncomfortable, hence the ‘fraud’ references. There is a new term now for it, rather than A.D.D., it is called being a, ‘multipotentialite.’ And, may I add, it’s very glamorous.
*laughs* It certainly sounds glamorous. Do you have any basic writing philosophies or tips?
Write things that make you feel a little bit exposed and vulnerable. I find the best way to do this is to write every day, about 2 hours, in a journal, no holds barred, and then run what you have unabashedly written through a shredder. Then, sit down to write your book. I get up about 3 a.m. and realize this is unrealistic, but it’s my tip.
Actually, it’s not that far off what some writers do. Some pantsers write a book, chuck it to the side, and then rewrite it. Writers, like the books they write, can be incredibly idiosyncratic. What kind of books do you read?
I read only non-fiction. From quantum physics, how to’s and biographies to self-help. A perfect foundation to add truth to any non-fiction story.
What are you most surprised by when you tell someone you’ve published a book?
Respect. It is shocking. It’s that fraud thing again!
Why do you feel like a fraud?
Because the ‘gatekeepers’ of art and writing, with a few exceptions, have always treated me as invisible. I am self-taught in all that I do, so I only can do what feels right to me. Thankfully, others are interested in what I have put out there. I am hoping ‘Wildly Human’ will help women who have no support system, to stand up for themselves and get out of unhealthy situations and if nothing else, believe they have more to offer the world than skills of care giving, undying tolerance, and cleaning toilets. Since most abused women find themselves without money, I post my book for free on wordpress, or available on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback formats.
Thank you for your generosity Cathleen, you are a shining star in the Universe of everyone you touch. Carry on…
You’re so kind. And don’t worry, sometimes we all feel like we’re frauds. You’re just honest enough to ‘fess up to it. 🙂
You can read Christina’s book, one story a week at https://digitalrabbithole.wordpress.com/.
Thank you Cathleen! I can rest easy, I have no more secrets ;-0
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Awesome interview, Christina! I highly recommend stopping by Christina’s blog and checking out some of her stories. I don’t miss a single one! 🙂
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Self taught writers have enriched our literary traditions. One can study literature and still be self taught because most of what we’re taught has to be chucked. I like the statement of feeling invisible to the power brokers who used to decide who was and was not a writer; usually based on prospective sales.
We are in a fresh renaissance of creative energy thanks to the computer and self publishing. It’s delightful. Thank you for posting this.
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