words

Talking about Sick, Mental Illness, and Book Marketing with @MoreStorgy

christa-wojciechowski-storgy

Storgy is a high-caliber literary site, lovingly edited by a staff of creatives who are passionate about art, film, and books. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be featured on Storgy among so many talented writers. I’m looking forward to having Storgy on the blog soon. In the meantime, check out my interview today and celebrate with a free copy of Sick (with its updated cover).

About Storgy Magazine

STORGY was founded in 2013 by Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self as a means by which to explore the short story form and engage with readers and artists alike. An online literary short story magazine consisting of a core group of dedicated writers, STORGY aims to inspire artistic collaboration and provide opportunities for creative minds to meet.

INTERVIEW: Christa Wojciechowski

So Christa, thank you for having this interview with us, we were interested to learn that you used to tame lions and chase storms; how did this come about and why?

When I lived in Florida, I managed a private animal sanctuary that was open to the public. I took care of nearly a hundred animals. We had tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, lynx, primates, canines, bears, macaws, a camel, llamas, deer, a horse, a donkey, an otter, raccoons, and a wallaby. There were also snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, all the way down to scorpions and tarantulas.

The big cats were all fed by hand. I had to hack up eighty pounds of bloody horse meat each day for the carnivores. Then I’d chop up buckets of fruit and vegetables for the herbivores. We bred rats and mice to feed the snakes. There was lots of poop. Lots. It was a dirty, laborious, and dangerous job, but I loved each of those animals as if they were my own children.

A few years later, the animal sanctuary was forced to shut down because they were widening the highway in that area. That’s when I went to work with my dad at the power company. In 2004, we had a crazy series of hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. During emergencies, all the staff at the power company is called in for hurricane duty. This means you work about 16-20 hours a day in very dangerous conditions. My dad and I teamed up to go survey the power lines to see if there were any urgent situations and to tell the crews where the damage was. We also turned on some customers’ power while we were there. That was not protocol, but we did it anyway, and they were very grateful.

Your website says that you’re an Internet marketer which can be a full time job in itself, so when did you first discover your passion for writing? And how do you find the time with all the other things you seem to be doing?

I was a child when I first discovered my passion for writing, but I never committed to it until I moved to Panama. I couldn’t legally work here so I had a lot of free time and solitude. I decided to try writing a memoir about experiences I had in my new country. I’ll probably never publish it, but it broke the seal and helped me to realise that I had the ability to finish stories.

My job as an internet marketer came later. I used to just help family and friends with their websites and social media. It was a part-time gig for travel and Christmas money. Now it’s a full-time operation that continues to grow. I have had no time to write during the past six months and am a little grouchy because of that. You know what Kafka says about a non-writing writer, so I’m planning to turn my freelance operation into a firm and hire some people to join my team. I’m also in the process of developing some e-courses to generate passive income.

kafka

Your fiction, in particular the Sick series, demonstrates an incredibly subtle style of Horror-writing that arises from psychology and character. How did you come to develop this unique style?

This is a great question because I never consciously planned this story or the characters. I had a nightmare about this pale, sick man covered in bruises. I think he had a broken leg. I was his wife–not myself, but another woman entirely. The bedroom was disheveled and dirty. The scene was repulsive to all five senses, but the most frightening part about it was the way this woman I inhabited felt. Her husband was obviously very, very ill and yet he exuded this powerful menace. The uneasy feeling of the dream stuck with me, and after some months I decided to purge it by writing it as a story.

The psychological aspects of your writing are one of its greatest strengths. Where did your fascination with the human mind arise? Can you name a key event or moment in your life that triggered your interest and desire to explore further?

I’ve always rooted for the deranged characters in books and movies. I’m drawn to the troubled souls and insane villains, but I know I’m not alone in this. Everyone loves a good pyscho or they wouldn’t be so popular.

Some of my family members have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. I, too, went through times in my life where I felt like I might lose my mind (I’m really not quite sure if I haven’t). I’m mystified by how thoughts and emotions can break your sanity. Sure, some brain diseases can be seen in a scan, but most mental illness is in the intangible. You can look at the brain and it will be physiologically sound, but the person is incapable of functioning. It’s this invisible entity that is damaged. How does that happen? How does this ethereal organ break?

What makes it even more interesting is that the mind can repair itself through words. Therapy or writing can fix mental illness–words, which are nothing but a sound vibration. They are ink marks on paper. They’re black pixels on this screen, and they have the potential to destroy and heal. It’s all very spooky when you think about it.

Continue reading this interview on Storgy

 

storgy.png

#Wine for the #WordNerd and #Writer

Flumen Dorium Spanish Wine

Hoping this will improve the vocab.

Behold twelve dollars of dry, oaky, velvet deliciousness from Thesaurus Bodegas in Spain.

Though I haven’t become a catalogue of synonyms after drinking Flumen Dorium, it was one of the most exceptional bottles of wine I can remember under $20. It could even kick the pants off many over $20 wines. I found this little gem at the local Pricesmart of all places. I don’t know if it’s available in the US, but if you see this wine grab it!!!

Yes, I’m a dork and bought it because it said ‘thesaurus.’ I usually choose my wine first by the price tag, then by the artistic merit of the label. Sometimes I end up with a bottle of swill, but I hit the wino jackpot this time. More fuel for finishing the The Sculptor series!

Freedom Isn’t Free?

 

Photo credit: Jonathon Colman

Photo credit: Jonathon Colman

Freedom is not free. Sounds like a kickass phrase. Americans see it everywhere—stamped on bumper stickers, printed on coffee mugs, embroidered on couch pillows, and tattooed on arms and legs. It’s a salute to our troops. It’s a reality the rest of us must accept whenever our countrymen go to fight for our freedom. But where did this expression come from and what does it mean?

The phrase is attributed to an Air Force colonel, Walter Hitchcock. It was engraved on the Korean War Memorial, originally to “express gratitude” to soldiers and their families for the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.

However, I often find freedom is not free used in a different context. I hear it used in a way that says we will never have freedom unless we continually go to war. We must kill so that we, and other countries that ‘need’ us, can have freedom.

But how often are soldiers fighting for freedom and not some other agenda?

I feel this sentence is poorly formulated to express gratitude. It is written in present tense. It’s short and powerful.It’s definitive and leaves no room for dispute. As a writer of web copy, freedom is not free reads more like a marketing slogan. What will happen if we keep repeating this mantra as an affirmation for war and death–that freedom can only come at the price of killing others?

I know most people have never thought of the phrase in this way, but words are powerful, and I think it’s important to pay close attention to what we drill into our heads.

War propaganda has been around as long as wars themselves and those in power use slogans to invoke a sense of duty and bravery in soldiers so they will pick up their arms and do whatever dirty work needs to be done. These slogans appeal to a military family’s a sense of pride and patriotism, signaling them that it is their time to step up and become part of something bigger. In other words, they are used to convince citizens to obey orders without questioning.

Collateral damage has become another tough-guy euphemism used to describe government sanctioned murder. It says innocents will die. It’s part of war. Accept it. But killing never feels justified, because we know it’s never right. That’s why veterans don’t ever get over the fact that they may have bombed villages where women and children were hiding. They never recover from shooting boys their own age, who under normal circumstances, might have been their friends. My grandfather, who spent two years as a prisoner of war in Germany during WWII, is in hospice care and will be taking most of the horrors he witnessed and committed to his grave.

But aren’t we free once the war is won? No, we are caged by death. The son’s and daughter’s who are killed leave holes of empty resentment that never heal. Those soldiers who survive must endure injuries, mental illness, and disillusionment. Even if they recover from their emotional and physical wounds, they may eventually suffer from grotesque diseases caused by exposure to chemical agents like Agent Orange and Sarin gas.

I understand why sayings like freedom is not free help people cope with war. It gives military personnel a sense that they fought for the greater good of all Americans. It gives grieving families the reassurance that their fallen hero did not die in vain. There is no doubt every serviceman and woman is brave and selfless, and they deserve the fullest of honor, but when are we going to wake up?

We are born free and we die free.

Freedom is not something you earn, or something your only attain by forcing others to submit to your idea of it.

Freedom is not found in oil fields or weapons of mass destruction.

Freedom is a divine right.

Freedom, above all, means thinking for ourselves. We must always question what ideas we are being spoon-fed. We must always beware of insidious propaganda. What is it that we are saying to ourselves?

Freedom was always free. Only warmongers have put a deadly price tag on it.

 

From the book '1984'

From the book ‘1984’

 

 

Share your thoughts freely below.

 

 

  • What does the phrase Freedom is not free mean to you?

 

  • Do you feel war is a necessary part of humanity?

 

  • Do you believe that killing another human being during a war is excused?