Christina M. Wells
Beyond COVID: Leaning Into Tomorrow
Living on COVID Time: Sharing Stories, Sharing Lives in Prose and Poetry
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What are your books about?
Living on COVID Time is Volume 19 of this annual anthology of prose and poetry by members of Story Circle Network, an organization supporting women writers and asserting the importance of women’s stories. But it is a volume unlike any other. The 52 authors of the 80 pieces in this collection were writing in response to an unprecedented global pandemic. The virus spread through a year filled with many other profound challenges and changes, while these women were writing about their lives, engaging with experiences and emotions that were uniquely their own. These selections capture moments as COVID-19 moved from rumor to life-altering reality, and together they form a small chapter in a humanity-sized story.
Beyond COVID: Leaning Into Tomorrow is Volume 20 in the Real Women Write anthology series from Story Circle Network, an organization that supports women writers and celebrates the importance of women’s stories. In the 2020 issue, Living on COVID Time, member-authors were responding to the first year of the global pandemic—its isolation, uncertainty, and social fractures. In this 2021 volume, the writers still explore the pandemic—which is not yet under control and dominates life for many—but they also offer up visions of how we move forward through and beyond it.
For her next, upcoming book: Christina grew up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, exploring religion but mostly unchurched. Girls at school applauded a classmate’s baptism with relief, the public school yearbooks showcased area church groups, and kids yelled out against evolution and women as ministers. The other kids worried for her salvation and felt her difference. Meanwhile, her dad was an agnostic with a Bible collection, her mom celebrated the Harmonic Convergence with yoga in the backyard, her grandmother had quit the Baptist church because she viewed it as racist, and her religious grandfather mostly talked to her about Shakespeare and reading lists, not Sunday School. A memoir-in-essays, Christina’s work bridges an adolescence in the Bible Belt with midlife in a country divided by religion, politics, and the pandemic.
What inspired you to write your books?
I have had many of these essays in my head for a long time, and some have been published as stand alone pieces. I think they are a part of my personal canon. Early menopause and the pandemic provided a backdrop.
If you have a business related to your books, tell us about it:
I currently work as a developmental editor and coach. My biggest focus is on helping middle aged and older women who didn’t go the MFA route.
What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day, really! I write every day, whether it’s for a project, or no. I also meditate every day. The schedule and type of work varies, as do social and house things.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
I most enjoy that I have wanted to play with words since I was seven. It’s forty years later, and that’s what I do.
What are some favorite books you’d recommend to our readers?
Since a big chunk of my book takes place when I was an adolescent, I’ll pick one from then. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an important book about the South and injustice. In a very different vein, I think many contemporary books are worth reading. I think of Jeanne Baker Guy’s memoir, “You’ll Never Find Us.” That’s one of the best I’ve read recently. I wish I had come up with the organization she uses.
What advice do you have to offer our readers?
Consider hiring a developmental editor or coach.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Actually, a lot of people are surprised I’m from Arkansas. Apparently, I don’t talk like Bill Clinton.
What’s next for you?
Well, I hope I publish my book! That was easy. I also have a novel in progress, a kind of social satire.
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