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An Interview with Christine Bates
Dennis:  How long have you been a writer and how did you get started?

Christine:  I was eager to write as soon as I could imaging forming letters on paper, and my writing has always had a bent toward process and renewal. My first poem was published in the Annapolis Avenue Elementary School newsletter.  I was in 2nd grade and we lived in Sheffield, Alabama just a couple blocks away. I had the thrill of walking to school "on my own," because my mom, little sister and newborn brother could watch me from the front steps. The last two lines of the sincerely chipper "My Day" are "I had to walk in the rain/but at least I'm home again!" I don't remember much else, except a precociously mindful detail about brushing my teeth.

Dennis:  You have written a book titled:  Accepting Your Resurrection.  Please provide an overview of the book and what you want readers to get from reading the book?

ChristineI had both the blessing and difficulty of growing up "unchurched" in Alabama, when there was not much separation between church and state. Every year of public school we elected class chaplains who read aloud each morning from whatever devotional magazine the teacher provided. Some of these provided damaging misinformation, but some provided an engaging, creative glimpse into the uses of biblical literature, and my later education showed me that the most fruitful use of scripture is to use it the way we might use a very rich dream; i.e., with the understanding that each character and situation is an aspect of our own psyche. But until I learned that, there was such conflict in me because I knew there was something that resonated as truth, but it was not as presented in  the culture. AYR has the subtitle, "Reclaiming the Word that Restores Eternal Life," because I want my readers to be able to do exactly that. To feel restored to their natural state in eternal life, which we experience only in the present moment.


Dennis:  You are involved with the Youth Program at Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center.  Please tell us a little about the center and your involvement with it?

Christine: At the time I published AYR, I had been a family counselor in the Youth Program since March of 2007. I got to co-facilitate our 4-day "family week" with the parents and siblings of our adolescent patients, as well as offering weekly family sessions to a caseload of individual families. I was always fascinated to watch how genuine/lasting transformation for the kids who faced going home after treatment could only happen if at least one of their parents had a shift into seeing their own need for healing, many of them traumatized since the same ages their kids now were.


After a couple of years of that, I was asked to apply for the Clinical Coordinator position, where I got to help facilitate the fledgling beginnings of mindfulness training for our kids. I held that position in Youth for a couple years before being coaxed into the Women's Program by a mentor who feared my getting burned out. For various reasons, she was right: I was in danger of burnout; but since not that many of us really enjoy and are good with adolescents, it was hard for me to let go of them. It felt like a stewardship thing, but I wouldn't help them if I got burned out anyway. I was happy to find that I love the adult women just as much; and guess what? They have children of all ages who benefit by their mothers' healing, so I no longer have a stewardship conflict. While in the Women's Program, I have particularly enjoyed offering groups for unresolved grief, trauma recovery education, and lots of experiential work. In 2011, I was given the charge to develop a special focus week for the adult male and female residents, and I was also given the freedom to focus on whatever I thought our patients needed, which was the discovery/recovery of creativity. We use the practices of mindfulness and creativity to help people reclaim their own "Word that Restores Eternal Life," though of course for many of them, "the Word" may be painting or music or landscaping. One woman shared with us the redesign plans for her bedroom: in her active addiction to opiates, her bedroom had become a prison for her. As she shared her drawings with all the adult patients, she said the project had helped her be able to look forward to leaving treatment, where before there was only fear. Being in Nashville, we get lots of creative types who either have gotten lost in the business of music or who have had success, but never sober. I've gotten to have more than my fair share of chill-bumpy moments thanks to the work I get to do.

Dennis:  Do you belong to any social networking sites?

Christine:    I'm happier not on Facebook, where I tend to do too much channel-surfing. I'm on LinkedIn, when I remember to visit! I belong to the Nashville Writers Meetup Group and just started my own Meetup group to make people aware of my weekly Creative Insight Meditation Group, where we meditate for about 20 minutes before an open group discussion. Even though these are for locals who want to come sit with us, the online component of Meetup gives it that social networking flavor. I inconsistently add to my poetry blog, www.mettaphoric.wordpress.com.

Dennis:  What are your future writing plans? 

Christine:   These days, I tend to write for work - about mindfulness for other therapists, guided meditations for the patients at work, about creativity, about the amazing truth that the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to help ourselves. I do love poetry, and now that I am done raising kids and done with school, I'm starting to feel some creative energy channeling back in that direction. But now that I've been doing the Creative Insight Meditation Group for a few months, I have a feeling their is another book of reflections on that topic. AYR has a strong focus on the recovery of creative dreams - partly because that's an aspect of my own story - but I want to devote a book to mindfulness not only in creativity but in how we decide where and why to share it.

Dennis:  What suggestions do you have for other writers/authors?

Christine:  Recognize that writing can be done just for you, for its own sake - that's totally legit. But if you feel led to publish, it's important to recognize and practice that as an act of service, not ego. Ego is the voice that inflates, but it is also that cruel voice that says, "Who do you think you are?" My Creative Insight Meditation Group is about the recognition that when we are not engaged in what we love, when we are not offering our gifts, we become depressed and anxious - guilt-ridden, really. But the focus on service is important because if we are engaged in but overly-identified with our work, we suffer from a grandiosity built on the sands of self-judgment. For many of us, it's a toss-up as to which we fear more, grandiosity or depression, but to undertake the service of our art as a spiritual practice is the "middle way" between these two.

Dennis:  What have you learned about the publishing industry that might help other authors or those who may want to be authors?

Christine:    I had an interesting path with publishing Accepting Your Resurrection. At first, an independent publisher who had had some success picked it up, so I got to have the experience of being edited by someone with a great ear and a good understanding of her readers. We would conference every few months by phone and she would say, "Okay, this part is a little unclear to me." I would clarify, and she's said, "Ah, okay. Good. Write THAT." It was fun.  But when our contract time came and went, financial and health concerns had kept her from being able to move forward. I took my rights back and she was really gracious about it - I think for both of us there was just a lot of trust in this process, that this book had a life of its own that neither of us had in our control.      

Dennis:  What kind of marketing activities have worked for you that you might suggest to others?


Christine:  Although the book is going on 5 years old now, I really am only now beginning to focus on marketing, with a pretty light touch. I donated a stack to the bookstore at work, and the proceeds benefit our alumni association. I am able to do that without confusing my roles at work because my last name is different now. Although, one of the nicest compliments I get is that people like having the book because it reminds them of my voice. Sometimes a patient will resonate with me or with this book and buy a bunch for their friends in recovery, and I'll get a little bump in sales through Booklocker. I have begun to be interested in offering it via other treatment center bookstores. Most people in some form of treatment have had religious language used against them as a weapon of shame: I like the idea of offering this antidote.
          

Dennis:  Do you write articles?  If yes, please provide some links where others can read what you have written?

Christine: Currently, my Mettaphoric blog on Wordpress just has poetry, but I am playing with including some Creative Insights articles.


Dennis:  What have you learned about the publishing industry that might help other authors or those who may want to be authors?

Christine:    I had an interesting path with publishing Accepting Your Resurrection. At first, an independent publisher who had had some success picked it up, so I got to have the experience of being edited by someone with a great ear and a good understanding of her readers. We would conference every few months by phone and she would say, "Okay, this part is a little unclear to me." I would clarify, and she's said, "Ah, okay. Good. Write THAT." It was fun.  But when our contract time came and went, financial and health concerns had kept her from being able to move forward. I took my rights back and she was really gracious about it - I think for both of us there was just a lot of trust in this process, that this book had a life of its own that neither of us had in our control.      

  By that time, I had become aware of Booklocker, so I was able to go to them with a book that had already been rigorously edited, but also I got to choose my own cover design and so forth. So in many ways, I feel I have had the best of both worlds, especially now that people can order AYR as an ebook, too!

This page was last updated: August 20, 2013
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