Remember last summer when my essay ‘Sarajevo Roses’ was long-listed for the 2015 CBC Canada Writes Creative Non-Fiction Prize? They even profiled me on the CBC website (#swag). Well now I’ve sold the piece to The Puritan! It appears in their new issue which dropped today! And, best of all, you can read the piece in its entirety on The Puritan website!
It’s a piece about my time in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2008 when the former Serbian despot and war criminal Radovan Karadzic was finally arrested and transferred to The Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity during the Yugoslav wars and the siege of Sarajevo. The Balkans have a special place in my heart, as I backpacked through the region at a time when you could still see war damage on every street. The former Yugoslav countries (I backpacked through Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia) hadn’t yet applied for EU membership, and for many of them, tourism was brand-new, as they had just eased their visa-requirements. It felt like I was walking through an authentic European culture untouched (for the most part) by globalization, westernization, and homogenization.
This blog is so old, you can actually read my posts from my time there. Here’s one from my time in Sarajevo and Mostar. There are photographs in that post of the actual Sarajevo Roses, and other things mentioned in The Puritan piece, like the destroyed Olympic bobsled track and the To Be Or Not To Be cafe.
It was really great working with the peeps at The Puritan, they were full of great ideas and had so many insights for my piece and how I should develop it. The issue looks nifty so check it out in full on their website!
Don’t forget to check out the official Christine Estima dot com where you can find all of my published works and more!
I’m really excited to share that my non-fiction story, ‘Spray It, Don’t Say It,’ has been published in the latest issue of Event Literary Magazine, that for decades has published the best short prose and poetry in the country. I have been trying to crack into Event for 10 years (they are notoriously selective!), so I was delighted when they snatched this up with such kind words for my voice and style. The piece is about my time as a waif on the streets of Europe, and specifically deals with this, where I blogged only peripherally about it at the time, so this story is the full story. Here’s a scan of the first page to pique your interest:
And here’s my EVENT bio. Awww yeeeeeeah, dis mah shit. This is only a slice of my publications, my full list of publications can be found here
You can pick up Event at any bookshop in the country. As always, don’t forget to check out the official ChristineEstima dot com for more of my writing, performances, and recent news!
It was really great to work with the team at Metro, the whole process was very fast-paced and positive. It was such a challenge to put everything I wanted to say into a mere 400 words, I’m used to writing 1500-word essays, so I welcomed the challenge to be brief and succinct. BUT I’M SO LOQUACIOUS!
Also, funny sidenote: that photograph of me there… That was taken yesterday with my iPad as I sat in a café on Spadina. OH THE GLAMOUR.
Fanks for reading, my munchkins, and don’t forget to check out ChristineEstima.com for more on my writing career.
I have been sitting on this news for A MONTH AND A HALF and haven’t been able to publicly speak about it until now! I’m really great at secret-keeping you guys. Anyway, waaaaaay back in January I submitted a short creative non-fiction piece to the CBC Canada Writes Non-fiction competition. It’s a piece about the time I spent in Sarajevo in 2008. I usually am not a big fan of entering writing contests because submission fees are usually beyond my means and competition is so stiff, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But this submission fee I could afford, and 2015 has been the Year of Christine’s Hustle (aka I’ve busted my ass to get so many publications this year) so I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Really, my thought process of 2015 has pretty much been just, “Hey Chris, no guts, no glory. So just take a chance, dammit.” And I am pleasantly surprised by how much the universe is willing to pay out if you just take chances. So imagine my surprise 7 months later when they contacted me to tell me I had made the long-list! They received over ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED submissions in the non-fiction category and I beat them out to land a place on the 32-person long-list!
I am so pleased! I’m so chuffed but also so humbled and obliged as well. I was sat in a café when I got the news and suddenly started saying OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD then silly-giddy laughing. Hipsters were staring. You don’t want to incur the wrath-stare of Café-Hipsters.
Later in September they will choose the finalists. If I recall correctly, five writers will receive cash prizes — 4 finalists will receive $1000 and the Grand Prize winner will get $6000 plus publication in enRoute Magazine plus a ten-day residency at The Banff Centre.
Those are pretty suh-weeeet prizes, and let’s not forget that the word-limit for non-fiction this year was only 1500. $6000 for 1500 words, people! That’s A LOT of money, that’s $4 a word! It’s a writer’s dream!
Like I mentioned above, I have busted my hump this year as a writer. I have been hustling and hustling and pitching and pitching and submitting and revising and editing and scrapping and trying and trying again and again. I think the impetus behind the hustle was the previous two years that I spent down-and-out, homeless, and wandering the streets of Europe with an empty bank account and a bruised ego. It’s only when you have nothing that you realize the world owes you no favours, and you gotta change your situation pronto. The hustle has mostly paid off, and even if I don’t move forward in this competition, I am well-chuffed with the recognition. I’m so pleased I decided to just throw my hat in the ring and see what happens. And above all I’m pleased that the CBC supports the kind of writing I want to do. This recognition is most exciting.
AND, CBC is doing something different this year – they’re profiling all the long-listed writers on their website! They’ve never done that before (methinks?). I had to send them a head-shot and bio and the works! Check me out up in hurrrrrr!!
So most gracious thanks to the CBC Canada Writes peeps for giving me a chance to raise my profile as a writer and for supporting my writing style and voice. It’s such an honour!
In related news, I have FOUR forthcoming publications with different literary and commercial magazines that I sold earlier this year, so watch this space. I will of course blog the snot out of them when they hit the shelves 🙂
And don’t forget to check out my official website to peruse all of my published works and watch my performances!
Click here or click on the above image to read it.
The piece is being received very well, it’s one of the most popular on the VICE network.
It’s great to see how responsive people are to this, so I’m well chuffed. I told my editor I was worried the satire therein might fall flat & people would think I was condoning #FHRITP. Lesson learned: never assume your audience won’t get it. Oh they get it.
Fanks for getting it, munchkins. YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS.
Check out my VICE category for all of the other essays I have written for them.
And don’t forget to check out my freshly-pressed ChristineEstima.com for more writing samples and links to my published works.
Recently I received a charming invitation to “blog hop” about my writing experience. How it works is: a blogger/writer blogs about their writing process, and then nominates three other blogger/writers to do the same… and so it goes. Oh the blogs you can hop through in this network!
I was nominated by writer and editor Rachel Stuckey to blog it like it’s hot, a challenge I would never shy away from, and so now you get to read an insight into my life as a writer. If you’re a writer like me, or you’re interested in becoming one, hearing about the writing processes and habits of other writers is always invaluable information that you an apply to your own process.
I’ve done this before, a few years ago I was an invited panellist at my alma mater York University to speak about my experience in the writing and publishing industry. Here’s a clip from that lecture, where I was telling the students how to go about getting funding and grants for their creative writing projects from Canadian funding bodies:
A lot of the other writers in this blog-hop are travel writers, which I am as well, but I also do fiction (novels and short stories), playwrighting, spoken word, music/film/theatre/book reviews, academic essays, interviews with notable personalities, and basically anything remotely related to writing that interests me, so I cover a lot of bases.
Anyway, enjoy my insights and writing-foibles!
What am I working on/writing?
I recently finished writing my second novel! I have been editing it with the help of some outside eyes and also in conjunction with my literary agent, and it is ready to be taken to the next level. I don’t want to talk too much about this on here because I feel like it will jinx it, but when the “next level” has been achieved, I will blog the snot out of it, trust me. I have also been working on a whole bunch of short stories and have been submitting them to literary journals which, as any writer will tell you, carries a long waiting sentence before you receive word of acceptance or rejection. So while I wait patiently, I have already begun brewing in my head the concept for my next novel! Novel number three, here we go. This one will involve some historical figures and a lot of research, so for the foreseeable future, you can find me living in the library. Ah, Old-Book-Smell. How I love thee.
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
My literary agent told me recently that the reason why he was so eager to sign me to his roster is because I am a “fearless” writer. Everybody wants to be a writer. Everybody wants to write the next great novel, but most of the time, they don’t want to take the chances necessary to achieve such goals. My writing, first and foremost, has a distinct voice. I spent years crafting my style, my form, my content, and my voice. For some writers, all that stuff comes naturally. Not me. I am not naturally gifted like Kerouac or Keats. I have had to work for every writing-coup I’ve ever had. The structure of each sentence is a BIG DEAL to me. So when it comes to what I write about, and my style of writing, I have to be provocative, and take chances, and let the story go to places that make even me uncomfortable. There’s no point in writing if you’re not willing to be vulnerable.
Why do I write what I do?
Great question. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me why I write fiction.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a storyteller. I used to love crafting up little narratives in my head as a little girl and then telling Mum about them. When I was in Grade 4 and our English teacher gave us the assignment to write a short story, everyone turned in about 4 pages worth of writing. I turned in 40.
I always had my nose in a book, and would get huge book deliveries from Scholastic (remember Scholastic!!) every few weeks. I couldn’t read enough, most of the time. And I always felt the urge to tell stories, especially when new concepts and ideas would pop into my head. I always preferred making up the stories, rather than telling true stories, so fiction naturally became my weapon of choice. By the time I was 12 years old, just the sight of a sharpened pencil and a huge stack of crisp loose-leaf paper would get me all giddy.
I guess I enjoy the freedom that fiction affords. The freedom to completely own the story that you tell, and the characters therein. I love the ability to fashion wild scenarios, and explore all the dark facets of human behaviour when stuck in such scenarios. Non-fiction and memoir have to be true and grounded in reality. Fiction is beholden to neither. That is just too tempting for such a dreamer like me.
When I got my first professional publication at the age of 18, I never looked back. I was hooked.
I double-majored Theatre Studies and Creative Writing in university, and returned to both subjects for my Masters degree. Since then, I have been published in literary anthologies, literary journals, travel anthologies, daily newspapers, weekly alternative magazines, glossy mags, national and international reviews, academic reviews, and even an encyclopedia. I’ve had about five plays produced, and I’ve lectured and performed at academic and creative conferences around the world.
How does my writing process work?
I actually have a strange writing process. Firstly, I absolutely need to write my first draft by hand.
Even though I type faster than I write.
Even though this means that I have to go through mounds and mounds of notebooks filled with messy scribblings, and arrows criss-crossing all over the page.
I cannot just stare at a blinking cursor and start to write. I need to have a pen in my hand and paper before me. I think this has to do with the actual act of writing. I see it as a violent act. The violence of pressing the pen nub into the paper and scratching your words into its surface, forever defacing it. There’s something about the Violence of Writing, as I call it, that is required for me to tell a good story.
Secondly, I can’t write at home. I need to be out in public.
Maybe because writing is such a solitary and isolating experience, that the sheer presence of others makes me feel less alone.
Maybe because there are too many distractions at home (like bed and Facebook….. mmmmm, Facebook in bed….sooo tempting).
Maybe because my stories are usually set in urban areas, so it requires me to be situated amongst the populous to inspire the descriptions about life in the metropolis…
Maybe because the word Writer is synonymous with Coffee Shop, and therefore one is always apt to find themselves amongst other writers down at their local latte-hole.
Who knows? All I know is that I’m weird, man.
I nominate Fran Harvey over at Bookworms and Coffee Monsters because she’s just gotten her first poetry publication and is ON FIRE at the moment with writing and submissions and can surely offer some keen insight into her work and process.
Onto the next blog-hop!
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been asked by the lovely munchkins at Spark London to tell more stories from my fucktard life at this curated event of true stories stranger than fiction.
And donations to cure my trembling nerves can be sent via PayPal. Ack!
I can use all of this as research fodder for my academic lecture this summer, right?