Happy Friday! Today I am happy to feature the delightful Cee Streetlights, author of Tea and Madness. Cee was so kind to help me out on my own book launch virtual party, and I am more than happy to offer her the spotlight here today. Without further adieu, here’s Cee!
How did you decide to write your story?
Tea and Madness came about because I had no faith in myself, to be honest. I was determined to not set expectations whatsoever so that I could safely put off any thoughts that might dangerously become goals. I knew I wanted to have a collection of poetry and prose, all selected from this time period when experienced enormous pain and struggle because it’s important to me that I show the reader that life is authentically messy. This chaotic time period was also extraordinarily formative for me, important to me, and I wanted to share that with readers, to share with them this truth I learned for myself – that we are all incredibly messy individuals and there is no reason for us to try to cover it up and pretend anymore. We already spend so much of our day inundated my “perfection programming” in the media, messaging that is just as toxic as any other abusive language. I felt it was important for readers to see “a year in the life” of an average woman who has lived through some wreckage and is still standing.
Was the final version somehow different than you had expected?
Yes and no. I visualized my book to be divided up into seasons, symbolic of a year in a woman’s life. Because I first thought I would be self-publishing, I had planned on including artwork unique to each season but unfortunately this wasn’t able to happen in the end. My first title was a terrible and generic title; I don’t even remember it anymore. I was never committed to it and I think I somehow hoped I’d come up with a better one. The biggest difference would have to be the title and the inclusion of tea etiquette and information in the appendix. I was stuck in traffic one afternoon and all I wanted to do was get home to have a cup of tea. I had just been talking with a friend of mine about how making tea is a calm and ritualistic process for me. And it is. Bringing the water to a boil only to let it cool enough so the tealeaves can be steeped in the perfect temperature is so symbolic to me – we go through so much trial at times that we don’t know why we’re experiencing the difficulty. It’s only after the trial has passed that we are able to have the perspective to really flourish.
Including the tea etiquette and information felt right to me somehow. I liked having the dichotomy of my madness juxtaposed with the orderliness of tea.
Describe your first perfect cup of tea.
I couldn’t stand tea when I was a little girl. We only had chamomile tea and I thought it tasted like old ladies. I avoided it whenever I could. When I reached my 30s, the health craze caught on to green tea as a means of losing weight. I did not care for green tea and still don’t. I didn’t try tea again until about a year after my first cup of green tea and went to an afternoon tea at a high-end hotel with my husband. I can’t remember the exact tea I ordered but I do remember it was a white tea with a delicate flavor. Drinking it immediately soothed me and filled me with a warmth that was more than the drink. The scent was lovely, the taste complemented the sandwiches and cakes perfectly, and I have been hooked ever since.
Do you have any crazy writing habits?
I tend to be a binge writer. I will go days and days without writing anything until finally all the words have to fall out of me. I’ll write for hours and accomplish so much that I’ve yet to come up with a reason to not do this other than it doesn’t fit deadlines very well. I’m also a word hoarder. I’ll create fantastic phrases or sentences and then I won’t want to use them. I hold on to them like fancy wrapping paper or cute fat quarters that I think I’ll sew something from.
What music inspires you?
The music questions always stump me because I’m not a very auditory person. I generally don’t listen to music at all when I write nor do I ever really listen to it and will it spark some creativity. I am more visual, really. I will see photographs are drawings (I keep track of them on Pinterest, for example) that will make me wander around in my mind. People also fascinate me and different types of people will generally begin a thread of conversation in my imagination.
After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her new memoir, Tea and Madness is now available.