Newspaper columnist and freelance writer Christine Green spoke during All-College hour at the MacVittie College Union on Wednesday Feb. 15. To frame her speech, Green foregrounded her unique career path, starting with her beginnings in archaeology.
“[Green] is a real champion of books and reading,” associate professor of English Lytton Smith said. “Including not only the pleasure of reading, but the necessity to read.”
Describing herself as a freelance creative writer, Green currently hosts writing workshops and contributes profiles of writers for the Democrat and Chronicle as part of the USA Today network.
As a student at the University of California at Berkeley, however, Green studied anthropology and later pursued graduate studies in archaeology.
“I’ve had a journey of randomness from the dirt to a desk, which is somewhere I never imagined myself to be,” Green said.
Beginning her address, Green established her theme for the afternoon: thinking of life as a labyrinth, rather than a road or a maze.
During her weekly meditation sessions at her home in Brockport, Green often employs labyrinth canvases, which is a common feature of meditation cultures throughout the world. Meditation seeks to inspire a sense of peace. While roads point in a singular direction and mazes evoke confusion, labyrinths remove the chance of “wrong” decisions, according to Green.
“People can use walking a labyrinth in prayer or to find a sense of peace,” Green said. “Something that makes labyrinths so neat is that you can’t get lost in them. In a labyrinth, you can’t make a wrong choice because you will always end up in the middle.”
To characterize her adult life, Green compares her journey to a personal labyrinth. Using her background in archaeology as fodder, Green focuses much of her writing on what she calls her “imagined past.” In her work, she tends to highlight either aspects of the family life that existed prior to her birth or the events that happened during her early childhood.
“On a personal level, I basically bathe in nostalgia,” Green said. “I have several pieces of a past that I have never experienced, yet I still feel they are a part of me.”
Reading an excerpt from her piece “Powder Blue,” Green—reiterating her love of the past—told the story of herself as a young girl. The piece included her looking at an old polaroid and imagining the world within that photo.
As advice to aspiring creative writers, Green suggested focusing on the world that existed before them—or, at least when they were too young to remember.
“With my writing, I’m trying to unlock the mysteries of life pre-Christine so that I can understand today’s Christine … addressing these experiences helps heal past wounds,” she said.
After having her first child, Green moved from Virginia to New York, where she found fellowship with other parents via online blogging. Once she published her piece “Ghost,” Green began blogging for D&C and submitting her work to creative writing journals.
In her current D&C position, Green specifically addresses the works of writers who have committed themselves to social justice issues. Green participated in the Pink Door Writing retreat as a literary fellow during the summer of 2016. Within this artistic community, Green received praise from the other participants for crafting pieces that held substantive value in the larger society.
Regarding her expansive career, Green insisted that—though she has not finished her journey—she has settled in closer to the heart of the labyrinth.
“Every time I read my writing, I give breath to my stories because … they’re alive; they’re more than just letters and words,” she said.