An interview with Christine Tate
If you’ve been following along, then you know I’ve been interviewing as many artists and parents and artists/parents as I can get my hands on.
There are equally as many challenges as moments of joy in making a living as an artist and I believe the same can be said of parenting. I’ve been curious to know how other artists and parents manage. So naturally, I found a bunch of them and asked a ton of questions! Since I’m a giver, I thought I’d share them with you.
I post the interviews each Friday. Did you miss a few? Catch up!
Greg Tremblay – voice actor and homesteader.
ML Larson – The awesome uncle who uses British spellings despite living his whole life in the States.
Go. Read them out. I’ll wait.
*Takes a drink of coffee.*
Ya back? All caught up? Awesome! Now let’s start talking to the fabulous Christine Tate!
R. M. Webb: Tell me about yourself.
I’m a Navy wife and homeschool mom. We’re currently stationed in Virginia Beach, VA.
R. M. Webb: Why do you create?
I see a need within the Christian community to renew fellowship bonds and have conversations that we, as a body of Christ, seem to be missing. It gives me joy to bring people together in a way that stimulates their thought processes and helps them grow in their relationships both with each other and God.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Chocolate or chips?
Yes, I do make money from writing, but my “day job” is really functioning as a support role as both a wife and mother. Much of my time is spent homeschooling my daughter and participating in all the peripheral activities that come with being a homeschooler.
R. M. Webb: I so respect homeschoolers. I homeschooled my daughter for one year when she was eight and for a number of reasons re-enrolled her in the public school system after that. Do you create your own curriculum or do you use an online program? What led you to choose that avenue?
I prefer an eclectic curriculum. Homeschooling is as much a personal experience as it is an educational one and in order to be successful, you have to find curriculum/material that matches who you are and how you function. I’m very much an out-of-the-box person and just wasn’t drawn to the canned programs available. It occurred to me that if I couldn’t get excited about the instruction manual style of most canned curriculums, I wouldn’t be able to expect my daughter to get excited about learning. We’ve enjoyed using a variety of resources from American Specialty Publishing, Carson-Delosa, Evan Moore, Schoolzone and a host of others including educational programming, web resources, library programs and learning cd’s.
R. M. Webb: If you still have a day job, would you like to get to the point where you could give it up?
Never! Being a wife and mother is a wonderful experience for me and I feel very blessed that we are in a financial position that allows me to pursue this way of life.
R. M. Webb: What caused you to want to market your art?
The original Group Hug book was written for a new Bible study that formed at our church. We knew what we wanted, but couldn’t find the resource material that matched our needs. So I wrote the first set of lessons for our group to get us going. Everyone enjoyed the direction our group took and was very supportive. However, I was with a great group of ladies and not sure if they were supportive because they really loved what I wrote or because they appreciated what I tried to do for our group. We went on to do another study for another eight weeks. At the end of the second eight weeks of doing another study, they turned to me and asked me to write them another study because they enjoyed the first one so much. That’s when I knew their support was genuine and it occurred to me that if they benefitted from what I wrote, maybe other groups would too. And so began my journey into the world of publishing women’s Bible studies.
R. M. Webb: Where/when does inspiration strike?
Anywhere and everywhere. I always keep a pen and paper nearby to jot an idea or concept down when it comes to me. I liken the process to an old-fashioned switchboard operator. The operator plugs one wire in, then moves another wire to a different location on the board and so on. When the operator is done, they have all the wires in the proper places and all the calls are connected as they should be.
R. M. Webb: How do you react to negative feedback?
I just let it roll off. I know it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. As long as I know I’m pleasing God, that’s all that really matters.
R. M. Webb: What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?
Finding quiet, solitary time alone to work in extended writing sessions. I have a very busy life and it can be a real challenge.
R. M. Webb: Who’s your biggest champion?
My mother. She always has been and always will be.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Red or blue?
R. M. Webb: Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?
We have one daughter.
R. M. Webb: If your child showed talent in an artistic endeavor, would you help her pursue a career in that field after having worked in a creative field yourself? Why or why not?
I always try to help her explore any interest or aptitude she shows. It’s important for parents to let children be who God made them to be without trying to control their interests. I also believe if God calls a person to something, He’ll make a way for that person. It’s not up to us to second guess Him.
R. M. Webb: How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/
Multi-tasking is key for me. I work in small pieces whenever or wherever I can. Being a homeschooler presents another level of challenge for me. During the day, I can usually get short bursts of productivity done by giving my daughter an assignment to work on, then I work on my writing while she’s working on her assignment her 10-15 minutes. Of course, there will be interruptions as she has questions, but it’s easy enough to manage. It’s really a variation of the exercise principle. If you can’t work in a dedicated exercise time of 30 minutes a day, then take the stairs for 10 minutes three times a day. You would be amazed how productive you can be if you apply the same principle to writing. If I need total focus for something, I try to work it in before she gets up or after she goes to bed. Sometimes, when I’m in a publishing crunch, I’ll ask my husband to do something with my daughter on the weekend for awhile to give me the time I need.
R. M. Webb: Describe yourself as a parent.
I have very high standards and sometimes my daughter doesn’t understand why other kids are allowed to do things she’s not allowed to do, but I also balance that with lots of love. Even when she’s wishing she could watch “x” TV program or have a TV in her bedroom, she knows she’s loved.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about raising kids?
It keeps you young at heart.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?
The conflict. I love being surrounded by peace and harmony, especially in my close, personal relationships. Unfortunately, “no” doesn’t always go over well with kids and the drama begins.
R. M. Webb: Are your kids ever involved with your art? Do they inspire you? Work with you? Would you like to include them in your business as they grow?
Absolutely! My daughter is always looking over my shoulder and commenting on something I’m doing. I have her participate in the process whenever possible. All of my Bible studies begin with a fun ice-breaker to loosen people up and set the tone for the lesson. For one of them, I needed an abstract drawing. I set my daughter down in front of the computer, opened a program called Flame Painter and showed her what I wanted done. She drew me some wonderful abstract artwork to use. I’m also a big believer in project based learning, so for one of our homeschool projects, she’s writing her own book which we are going to publish when she’s finished. It’s really more of a photojournalism book with a Christian perspective, but it’s who she is and I want to nurture her passions.
R. M. Webb: What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?
First, don’t do it for the money, which is really true of any discipline. Whatever you do in life, in any field, it should always be because you are called to do it. Once you are writing for the right reasons, the rest will fall into place. Second, find your personal niche and really learn it well. Third, market, market, market! The “field of dreams” approach does not work. If you write it, they will not come. Like any other industry, people have to know you have written something before they can be interested in reading it. All too often I see writers put their blood, sweat and tears into a massive project only to let it fail because they failed to continue marketing efforts.
R. M. Webb: If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?
As a Christian, that one concept would be God first, everything else second.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your life?
Really? I have to choose one thing? I don’t know if I can. I love everything about my life!
R. M. Webb: Quick! Eat out or cook at home?
Eat out. Can’t beat not having to do dishes.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about your craft?
So many ideas, so little time.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your craft?
Knowing that I’ve touched people’s lives in a positive way. Before I publish any of my material, I always run it through focus groups to see how well it plays out in the real world. When I see the light go on in someone’s head or the discussion brings a smile to their face, I feel very fulfilled.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?
Generating creative marketing ideas. If you want to stand out from the pack, you have to do something different to be noticed.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?
What I do is really a home-based business that allows me complete flexibility to work it around my life and family. I love that. I also love the portability of this business. As long as I have a laptop and internet connection, I can take it anywhere. We took a family cruise a few months ago and during the down-time in our cabin, I was able to check sales stats, work on marketing material and get some writing done.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do? Add more and eat it!
Want to learn more about Christine?
Join the Conversation and put the fun back in your women’s small group Bible study today!
Find Christine on Amazon.
Have a question for Christine? Leave it as a comment!
**Standard disclaimer: The views expressed in this interview don’t necessarily reflect the views of R. M. Webb.