On Becoming A Writer: Christine Ray

An important part of every writer’s journey is the transition from seeing ourselves as “someone who writes” to seeing ourselves as writers.  We asked all the Go Dog Go Baristas to tell us a little bit about their journey as a writer.  We hope you enjoy learning more about the Baristas and are inspired by their stories.

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When you did you start writing?

I started scrawling poetry and short stories in notebooks in 4th or 5th grade and wrote regularly throughout middle school and high school. Creative writing; however, really took a back seat once I got to college. I enjoyed college! Creative writing and journaling is something that I have come back to over and over again during times of transition in my life and then would slowly drift away from it as life got busier. The only writing I did for almost 12 years was work-related documents. Then in 2016, I was motivated to write longer and longer Facebooks posts (personal essays really) that allowed me to address the events unfolding in the world around me. I have been writing ever since.

What kind of writing do you do?

Poetry is truly the voice of my soul and my primary form of creative expression but I also write prose, short stories, and personal essays. I am intrigued by flash and micro fiction but have not played around too much yet in that format.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

My writing is primarily inspired by what I am feeling or experiencing in the moment. Writing really serves as my confessional, my diary, my prayer, my therapy, and my meditation. It is how I process what is going on in my world.

Inspiration is everywhere. I can be turned on creatively by a piece of music, a striking image or even a single sentence that starts to bounce around in my head. I always keep a notebook nearby so I can jot down words or phrases that I want to come back to later. Currently “plot kittens” is scrawled in my notebook (thanks to my 16-year-old), waiting for me to play with. I love the mental image of kittens who won’t stay where they are put and keep wandering away from the main storyline.

What are your current writing rituals/practices? 

I used to be someone who got up at 4 am every morning to have time to write before I went to work. Living with Fibromyalgia has made that routine impractical and my muse has become a little. . . lazy. Actually, she has become really lazy and could use a good kick in the rear end.

Recently, I have been writing on my computer after the rest of my household goes up to bed but I have been known to scrawl poetry in a small notebook in medical waiting rooms or typing them on my cell phone while on public transportation.

When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer?

It’s funny- when I was a teenager, I was very firm in my identity as a writer. I wrote short stories, poetry, was editor of my school newspaper and class yearbook, and it was just understood that I was a writer. Coming back to writing at 50 after a 12-year gap made me feel like an imposter, a wanna-be. Jasper Kerkau and Felicia Denise took me seriously as a writer long before I did. When Jasper encouraged me to enter a divergent writing contest sponsored by Sudden Denouement, I realized that maybe I really am a writer and started feeling much more comfortable claiming that identity again.

What are your future writing goals?

I had the wonderful experience in 2017 of being published for the first time in a literary journal and in the anthology Swear to Me by Nicholas Gagnier. Plans are in the works for my poetry to be included in two new anthologies that will be released in 2018 that I am very excited about. I also have fantasies (maybe more than fantasies?) about publishing my first solo book of poetry with a small, independent press in 2018 as well. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read some of my poetry to a live audience. I loved it and absolutely want to do it again.

I am also a visual artist (have I mentioned the creative ADHD?!) and have been mulling for a long time how to combine my poetry with my visual art. When I have a little more energy, I would like to play around with using mixed-media collage to marry these two forms of creative expression.

Like most writers, I long to have lasting impact. I actively try to use my writing, networking, and editing skills to promote and celebrate voices I believe should be heard. There are so many amazing voices out there who deserve a bigger platform, so many voices that could blossom with encouragement, support and the right venue. I came of age in the LBGTQ community at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and really internalized the message Silence = Death.  Silence can equal the death of our bodies (not just from disease but from addiction, depression, etc.), our communities, and our souls. I know that when I hid my own truths, kept the silence to protect others, it slowly ate at me, diminished me.  I truly believe that speaking our truths is important to our own healing and healing the world.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

Sylvia Plath

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