I met Christine on August 5, 2010 during the summer I was finalizing plans for my cross-country poetry project, Tour de Word. I can't quite remember how our paths originally crossed - a friend we both knew, the intersection of our blogs and online social networks, plain old-fashioned kismet, or a combination of all three, but whatever it was, it brought me at last to Christine's house in Santa Monica, and the inaugural writing workshop of the tour.
When I knocked on Christine's gargantuan front door, I was nervous and excited, but largely erring on the side of nervous. I felt the gravity of this first workshop, certainly - this was a testing ground for the workshops I'd be faciliating on my trip, and I had only no idea if the activities and exercises I had planned for the evening would resonate with the participants. I was keenly aware that this event was going to make very real - whether I liked the results or not - all the ideas I'd been playing with in my head over the past few months of planning. I thought that enormous door an apt metaphor for the unknown passageway I was about to enter, the adventure I had been crafting for so long finally coming to life.
From the moment Christine opened that door, I felt all at once entranced and comforted, my spirits simultaneously lifted and grounded. Her smile, bright and golden like the late afternoon Los Angeles light, immediately put me at ease, and my nervousness mysteriously evaporated. Later in the evening, halfway through the workshop of the 10 or so women who had gathered, I found myself in the midst of a feeling I couldn't quite recognize but which later - during the two months that I spent driving the country seeing my project through - I would realize was something quite simple: I felt entirely awake in my body, as if everything I was doing and everything I was being was in complete alignment.
And now that I've spent more time with Christine, I see that it's always like this being around her. She gives me a sense of communion within myself and the world around me. Her humor is infectious. Her laugh is genuine, even healing. Her creative gifts are too numerous to name. And her spirit is generous beyond words. I know that my life and the work that I do have been profoundly inspired - and significantly improved! - by her presence and her support, and I am very pleased to have her visit this blog with thoughts about her latest book, "Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World." The book features twenty extraordinary women - writers, artists and entrepreneurs - who share how they create a meaningful life and, in turn, make a positive impact on the world. In addition to a beautiful collection of quotes, stories, and anecdotes, the book features substantive, encouraging exercises to support readers' journeys towards creating a meaningful, mindful life.
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The Desire to Inspire author and contributors and where they are from ~
Image 1: Christine Mason Miller ~ Santa Monica, California
Image 2: Pixie Campbell ~ Ojai, California
Image 3: Anne Carmack ~ Santa Monica, California
Image 4: Tracey Clark ~ Huntington Beach, California
Image 5: Christine Castro Hughes ~ Glendale, California
Image 6: Penelope Dullaghan ~ Raleigh, North Caroline
Image 7: Marianne Elliott ~ Wellington, New Zealand
Image 8: Liz Kalloch ~ San Rafael, California
Image 9: Andrea Kreuzhage ~ Los Angeles, California
Image 10: Jennifer Lee ~ San Francisco, California
Image 11: Vineeta Nair ~ Mumbai, India
Image 12: Christen Olivarez ~ Laguna Hills, California
Image 13: Mary Anne Radmacher ~ Freeland, Washington
Image 14: Jamie Ridler ~ Toronto, Canada
Image 15: Amy Krouse Rosenthal ~ Chicago, Illinois
Image 16: Carolyn Rubenstein ~ Boston, Massachusetts
Image 17: McCabe Russell ~ Encinitas, California
Image 18: Kate Swoboda ~ Bay Area, California
Image 19: Carmen Torbus ~ Port St. Lucie, Florida
Image 20: Mindy Tsonas ~ Newbury, Massachusetts
My official title associated with Desire to Inspire is Author. I wrote the proposal, negotiated the contract, selected the Contributors, and wrote the book. All that makes me the Author. While I am proud of this accomplishment, and excited to share this creation with the world, I don’t necessarily feel like that particular label interlocks neatly with the variety of hats I’ve had to wear ever since this wild journey began. An author sits in a studio – or maybe a coffee shop – and writes. For hours and days and weeks on end, while his or her consciousness is consumed with characters, ideas, philosophies and story arcs...right? An author’s number one job is to buckle down and write, right?
I know it isn’t that simple. Different books require different styles of authorship and work habits. The creative process of someone writing a book on how to re-tile a bathroom will be different from someone writing a book of poetry. Technical writing requires different functions of the brain than storytelling, and personal essays need a writer to dig deeper into his or her memory than a book detailing the migratory pattern of monarch butterflies. There are all kinds of different authors who have written all kinds of different books, and I wonder what alternate “job titles” they would assign themselves if given the choice.
I’ve decided that a more apt moniker for my work on Desire to Inspire is Inspiration Wrangler. At almost every stage of the process – which has been a collaboration with editors, designers and my publisher, nineteen contributors, and now dozens of friends and colleagues who are helping me spread the word about the book – I have felt like a circus master in a tutu, trying to keep track of countless details, deadlines, and responsibilities. My job, more than anything, has been to collect all kinds of bits, baubles, and treasures from all over the world, bring them to my studio, lay everything out in front of me, and then thoughtfully, mindfully, creatively piece them together in the most inspiring way I can.
I did, indeed, devote many hours of straight-up writing to Desire to Inspire. In that sense, it is safe to say I’ve earned the title of Author. But that’s only part of the story, one sliver of the whole experience. As an author – as the writer – I worked alone, but once that particular piece of the puzzle was complete, the rest involved a creative collaboration with a band of some of the most inspiring souls on the planet. Together, we managed to channel a tremendous wave of wild creativity and passion towards an idea – an idea that began to take shape when I sat down to write the initial book proposal and is just now beginning to find its place in the world. No matter where it goes, I’m in extraordinary company - a happy wrangler riding towards sunset.
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Christine Mason Miller is a Santa Monica-based artist, writer, and explorer. Her next book – Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World – is now available at bookstores everywhere and Amazon.com. Follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.