“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Charlotte Getz

This is the sixth installment in a series of monthly-ish interviews between myself and various […]

This is the sixth installment in a series of monthly-ish interviews between myself and various writers and members of the Mockingbird community. These posts will explore some aspects of each individual’s personal story and some aspects of Mockingbird’s larger story and ministry as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Additional interviews in this series can be found here.

Charlotte Donlon: How did you find out about Mockingbird?

Charlotte Getz: I have known about Mockingbird since its beginning. I grew up in Birmingham and went to the Advent (Cathedral Church of the Advent) there. Paul Zahl was my minister so I knew the Zahl family from church. In October of 2012, I got married and then was fired from my teaching job four days after our honeymoon. I ended up in a really dark place and turned to Mockingbird because I was desperate and feeling super low. Just a few days after “the firing” I started digging into the website and ultimately emailed Dave and asked him if I could send him an essay about what had happened. Then I accidentally got pregnant. So I stopped writing for Mockingbird pretty soon after I started writing for Mockingbird. I began to write again (in general) during my son’s naps after he was born and jumped back in as a contributor to the website after I had our second baby. I continue to write and work while my kids are at school on weekday mornings and during their afternoon naps.

CD: How has the Mockingbird community changed you?

CG: Aside from the obvious outpouring of grace that I receive from Mockingbird, I think the biggest gifts I’ve received are humor and laughter. I can get so hung up on my weighty and deep sin, my tendency to perform for others, but then I think about Mockingbird and its message and am able to just laugh it off. Until the day I die, performance will be a sin I struggle with. The good news that Mockingbird proclaims day in and day out is that God loves me anyway, and one reason Jesus had to come and die for me is that I’m a performance junkie (among other things).

CD: What are some of your favorite Mockingbird moments?

CG: There are so many to choose from, but I think I would say connecting with the women of Mockingbird has been such a gift to me. I have gotten to know the other women writers and always look forward to reading what they have to write. I learn so much from them. There’s definitely a sense of love and a sense of support among everyone, instead of competitiveness. It’s also great to connect with people via social media and then meet them in person at the conferences. There’s something really special about how Mockingbird brings people together and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

CD: Tell me about the book you and Stephanie Phillips are writing. What do we need to be excited about?

CG: Our book is weird. We’re pretty sure we’ve developed a new genre and we’re calling it the “spiritual memoir duet.” Patent Pending. Stephanie and I connected over social media last year because we both had big moves coming up. I was preparing to move to California and she was preparing to move to Australia. We just kind of casually started writing to each other about what we were going through. The book is about our wanderings in the desert places, in these exoduses we were experiencing and would continue to experience even after our moves. The book is about how God’s grace seems rude and uncomfortable but turns out to be pure gift. We write about motherhood and marriage and mental health and a whole lot of Jesus. It also tracks our growing friendship through that time and takes all kinds of wacky forms—we have plays, essays, G-chat conversations between us, and emails between us. It moves quickly because of the format. We mix things up and insert humor or a visual image after heavier essays. It’s fun. And it’s hilarious. Stephanie is one of the funniest people I know and I just try to keep up with her. We offer an authentic portrayal of learning that God is the perfect author of our (seemingly) imperfect stories.

We just had a big deadline last week and we hope to release it at the conference in April. Pray that happens!

CD: What has it been like co-authoring a book?

CG: The most challenging thing about the process is that Stephanie is something like a hundred hours ahead of me in Australia. We’re both awake during a very small window of each day. We communicate using this app called Voxer which is basically a walkie talkie (as if the book weren’t already childlike and whimsical enough). We leave each other messages about what we’ve written, new ideas, etc. We should probably get some sort of sponsorship deal with Voxer now because we’ve basically written the book via their app. We also use Google Docs because it’s the easiest way for us both to access the document and do revisions. I guess we should get a sponsorship deal with Google, too.

One beautiful thing about co-authoring a book is that we both have an ever-present editor. We have two sets of eyes reading and revising our writing and that has improved the book and elevated the quality of what we send to our official editor.

CD: What high culture, low culture, and in-between culture have you consumed in the past few weeks?

CG: I really only consume low culture these days. I’m going to be honest. In the past few weeks, I’ve been consuming The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. I don’t have the time to read as much as I would like to but I did just read The Good Girl which is this terrible/wonderful beach read/thriller. I love The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s so good. The Leftovers although I hated the ending. Game of Thrones. I like TV.

CD: What’s inspiring you right now?

CG: We finally found our church out here. I recently went to the women’s retreat even though I only knew one person who was going. I met the most amazing women on this trip. It was a beautiful time of connecting with these awesome women. The retreat and getting to know everyone was a delightful gift from God.

CD: What do you want more of in the next month? What do you want less of?

CG: I want to take my days more slowly and simply. I want to be careful to not rush around too much or be too frantic. Gratitude is important to me, but I’ve learned I have to slow down and pay attention so I can notice all of God’s gifts and His beauty around me. I say all of this because we have a lot going on in the next several weeks, traveling, family coming into town, etc. I think the only way to survive this busyness is to go molasses on life during those days that we don’t have other obligations.

And, I want less racism, politics, and terrorism.

CD: Same. Those are great things to want less of. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. I enjoyed it!

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