Sunday, November 11, 2007

Interview with Christee Gabour Atwood

Today we have a special guest, Christee Gabour Atwood. Christee is a multi-talented creative woman whose attributes run a large gauntlet. Some of her professional titles are:

Radio and Television Host
Newspaper Columnist
Association Executive
Certified Corporate Trainer
Master Facilitator
Public Relations Director
College Faculty
Advertising Director
Universal Studios Tour Guide
Volunteer Coordinator
Stand-up comic
Convention Planner
Corporate & Non-profit Consultant
Festival Coordinator
Entertainer in the unemployment line

She likes to think of it as career-induced ADD.

EDBB: Welcome to my blog Christee. It's a pleasure to have you here.

CGA: Thanks! It’s a pleasure being ‘had’ here… Well, you know what I mean.

EDBB: You have so many creative attributes, how do you decide which to focus on and when?

CGA: Ack! You’ve hit upon my greatest challenge right there. I have difficulty narrowing my projects down to work on one thing at a time.

I’ve had to incorporate the system of hiding all other shiny objects from myself while I’m working on a project. I’ve even created a separate desktop on my computer so that I only have the one file I’m working on visible and all the other folders are neatly out of sight.

I believe if I were a little better focused, I’d be more successful, but having the attention span of an over-caffeinated gnat has kept life really interesting for me.

EDBB: What affect do all your projects have on your home life? Does your family support you in your multi-faceted career?

CGA: I don’t have any children, thank goodness. Those poor kids would never have a clean pair of underwear…

My husband and my pets support me whole-heartedly. And yes, I end up traveling quite a bit, so that my dog actually barked at me one time when I came home. The hard part is that husband always gets the “exhausted me”, while everyone else gets the “awake me”.

It also means that I have pet dust bunnies in my home, plastic containers in my refrigerator that I’m scared to open, and the artistic statement of “fur” on my ceiling fans.

But all of that is part of what makes me individual … an individual whose house no one comes to visit … but an interesting one nonetheless…

EDBB: Which of your hats do you enjoy wearing the most and why?

CGA: I love alternating between the solitude of writing and the exhilaration of performing. It’s the best of both worlds. I also get to see the immediate impact of my words and that helps me continue to develop my skills.

EDBB: Of your 19 plus careers, which do you spend the most time on? And why?

CGA: Right now, I spend the most time on seminars and training. It makes Mr. Electricity Bill very happy. It’s also really rewarding to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. I love helping people become stronger communicators.
But it’s funny how that has transferred into my writing career. My three books that are coming out right now are based on that training. They’re business and training books, Succession Planning Basics, Presentation Skills Training, and Manager Skills Training. And they are written from the experiences I’ve had working with people in those seminars.

EDBB: How did you breach the Radio and Television World to become a Host? A Newspaper Columnist, a Tour guide for Universal Studios?

CGA: I’ve got to tell you – radio is the best place to work on your communication skills. It teaches you to use the ABCs: Accurate, Brief, and Clear. It was that ability which allowed me to move into all the other careers that I’ve had.

In radio, I concentrated on the spoken word. In television, I was able to practice presentation skills. And those skills made me stronger in getting messages across. Every career I’ve had is just practicing that in different settings.

EDBB: Just how did you entertain all those out-of-work people in the unemployment line, and did the "powers that be" offer to pay you for your time?

CGA That was when I developed the first material for my stand-up comedy act. And I made almost as much money as I did in stand-up comedy.

In other words, I didn’t make a thing. Darn. But honestly, I’ll do anything for a captive audience. Don’t ever get stuck in an airplane seat next to me.

EDBB: The title(s) of your books are an inspiration. How did you come up with them?

CGA: Three Feet Under: Journal of a Midlife Crisis was actually a collaborative effort between the publisher and me. The editors there were all fans of the show “Six Feet Under”. However, the show was canceled at the same time my book came out.

I’ve always had good timing like that. My first humor book came out the week of September 11th. My second came out around the time of Hurricane Katrina. I don’t think my publisher wants me to put out another humor book. They’re scared of what might happen.

My titles always choose themselves. They usually include something that frustrates me and the twist that allows me to laugh at it. Like the upcoming sequel to Three Feet Under is In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands. It just represents where I am in my life.

EDBB: Can you tell us what your exact thoughts were at that moment in time when that blue-eyed young man called you "Ma'am"? Or, do you consider that information Top Secret?

CGA: No secrets here. I was heartbroken. I thought I was going to be “Mrs. Robinson” in The Graduate. Instead I was Mrs. Kravitz in Bewitched.

EDBB: How long did it take you to write this novel? And why did you decide to write this particular one?

CGA: It took 45 years. It was a conglomeration of thoughts and columns I had been writing for years. I actually sat down to write it after getting “spayed”. After my hysterectomy I had to sit still for a few weeks and was terribly bored, except for those moments of excitement and cursing that accompanied a sneeze. I put it together during that time. The book was even funnier to me while I was still taking the pain killers…

Why? I just liked the idea of embarrassing myself publicly and making people realize that it was okay to admit that we are a bundle of insecurities, a mass of conflicting thoughts, and more than a little confused. I enjoyed realizing that all the mistakes I’ve made in life have added up to me being the person I am today. And that person is not half-bad, so I guess they weren’t such terrible mistakes after all.

EDBB: Given your heavy schedule why did you decide to add writing to your resume?

CGA: I’ve been writing since childhood, when my parents owned a small weekly newspaper and I took my naps in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet. It’s been more natural to me than speaking ever since they gave me my first black cast iron Royal typewriter and I set up office in the hot water heater closet at home.

The written word is incredible. It allows us to create our own world where we decide the weather. It allows us to be the hero and the villain. It makes us think beyond what exists and ask, “What if?” And that “what if” is the best start to anything we’ll ever write.

EDBB: How much time do you spend writing your books? How does this adversely impact on your other professional careers?

CGA: I write a few hours every day. Some of it makes it into my books. The rest is filed away for future projects. There’s no such thing as wasted writing! And there’s no time for concepts like writer’s block. If you’re a taxi driver, you hit the road. If you’re a maid, you clean things. If you’re a writer, you throw words at a piece of paper. Some of them stick.

Quite often a lesson from my professional career makes it into my writing and vice versa, so these careers actually positively impact each other. And, with my short attention span, it works well for me to have a number of things to work on available to me at any given time.

Have you ever noticed that, when you have only one thing to do in a day, it takes all day to do it? If you have lots to do, you get each thing done more quickly? That principle works well works for me…

EDBB: If you weren't writing books, what would you prefer to be doing instead? Which of your many "hats" would you prefer to wear all the time?

CGA: I have to admit, I don’t want to do anything other than what I’m doing. I love writing and speaking with people. The opportunity to do those two things for a living is my dream life. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having a little financial security, but I feel that enjoying the basic four food groups and indoor plumbing are somewhat overrated in the big scheme of things.

EDBB: Thank you Christee for visiting my blog today. It was a pleasure getting to know you. Congratulations on your career, you are an inspiration to all of us.

CGA: Thanks so much. It’s been fun! And my career, which is just a work in progress, is better because I get to visit with people like you!

4 comments: said...

Thanks again for allowing me to visit with you and your readers!

I'll be lurking around here in case anyone has any questions, comments, or just wants to point and laugh at me!!

Christee & her pet rubber chicken, Elvis

Elena Dorothy Bowman said...

You are welcome, Christee. Trust my readers will have many questions for you.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I, too, write in several genres. It's difficult to promote (to get a brand going) when one does that. Your blog is working nicely to that end. Hope you'll check out my The Frugal Book Promoter that gives some of the ways I handled my branding.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Elena Dorothy Bowman said...

Thanks, Caroline. Thank you for the information.
Elena Dorothy Bowman
Journey to the Rim of Space and Beyond