Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Welcome to my guest page, Ann Christine. I’m so pleased to have a chance to chat with you. I’ve put in an order for a cup of tea with a drop of milk and no sugar. The clubhouse tearoom isn’t to busy today, so we should have to wait to long for our drinks.
While we are waiting, can I start by asking you, when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I have to admit that my genre chose me, not the other way around. I started off as a visual artist, illustrating and painting. I majored in fine arts when I started college, but soon switched to science where there were more good jobs.
Like most teenage girls, I always kept a pen and notebook, and jotted down little rhymes and musings. I wrote love poems, loss poems, and poems about the events of the day (the Vietnam War, etc.). I also loved to write about the beauty in nature. One day, after decades of not writing, I drug out my old notebook and shared some of my poems on Facebook. I got so much encouragement that I decided to give it a try again, only this time, more seriously. It became my joy and my bane. I love writing and I hate writing. It has become an integral part of who I am, so I hope that I never throw it away, like I did my art.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
That is a very hard question for me. I struggle with believing that I have any “strong points,” but if I had to pick one, it is that I write from my heart and feelings. I put myself into every poem that I write. Most of my poems are very personal, about family, or events. Because of that, maybe everyone cannot relate to my poems, since they have not experience what I have. Sometimes I jot off an entire poem in one sitting when the subject matter is important to me.
What would I like to do better? Ha, everything! No really! I have so many friends that write with such passion and depth, that I am always saying “I want to write like her/him.”I am shocked (and extremely pleased) whenever anyone tells me that they think my work is good.
I wish I was smarter – that I knew the kind of elaborate poetic language that many of the other poets use. I am constantly looking up words and researching references, but I just can’t seem to write with the flair that so many others do. Maybe it is because I am intellectually lazy. Oh, I excelled at math and science, but I used to hate Grammar and English Literature. In school, I did everything I could to get out of having to read those long boring classic novels. I still have trouble reading to this day. Maybe that is why I prefer poetry to fiction writing.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
None, At least not on my computer. I still do all my writing with a pen and paper. When I am happy with a draft, then I transfer it to a “Working On” file in my Poem folder. Once in the folder, I still revisit it every day until I am happy with the results.
Now, as far as how many “unfinished projects” I have, I have so many notebooks scatter about with half the pages torn out and the other half still being worked on, that you would be astonished. I am always writing down whatever comes into my mind, so I have pages with one line on them (waiting for a poem), pages with one or two stanzas/sections on them (waiting to be concluded), and pages with sort-of finished poems (waiting to be polished up). I still have notebooks from two years ago that I am constantly trying to decide if there is anything worthwhile in to revisit. At any time, I would say I have at least 20 or more poems in some stage of the process.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? (If you only write short stories, or play or poetry do you plan your story (poem), or let the characters lead you.)
To be honest, I rarely ever plan my poems. Thoughts just come out of my head and I use them as a starting place. Once I have enough substance on the paper, then I go back and play with it to see how it comes out in the end, and if it is worth keeping. Towards the end point, I put in the twists and turns to try to make the poem more interesting and cohesive.
Even with the few short stories that I have written and published, I never really thought about the whole story, the middle or the end, until I actually got there. I usually have an idea that I start with, and just hope that I can come up with enough of a plot to make it work out. I often struggle to fill in the middle and come up with a decent conclusion. I even have a harder time with drabbles. I can always come up with a decent beginning idea, but then I get lost and don’t know how to bring it around in just 100 words. I rarely know how I want it to end until I get there. I know that is not the way professional established writers write, but I never was trained to write. I just do it on impulse.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Almost always. If I am upset or frustrated, I write dark poems about loss, and despair. If I had a good day where most things went well, then I usually write about the beauty of nature, or places that are dear to me. Sometimes when I am sad, I write about my childhood, my family, and especially my mother. There is the rare moment when a themed submission entices me to try my hand at something that I am not familiar with, and then my mood doesn’t seem to step in as much. I am too absorbed in meeting the demands of the theme. I don’t write to themes very often, when I do, the theme has to intrigue me to begin with.
8) Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Yes, often times they are. Many of my poems have been about my mother, father, brothers, babcia [grandmother], my exes, and my present husband. I have written poems about people that I thought were my friends, but had betrayed me, and about celebrities or politicians in the news.
Even a few of my short stories were originally based on people I know and family, with a lot of fabrication thrown in to make to the story more interesting. I am not sure what you would call a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but many of my short stories are that way. I don’t know, maybe everyone who writes fiction has a modicum of fact in their story.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen … I do not like to read! Yes, you read that correctly. For someone who purports to be a poet and writer, I dislike reading. I am an extremely slow reader, and have a lot of trouble absorbing what I am reading. I have to keep stopping and going back to check what I just read (or read a few days ago). It is painful for me to read an entire book. I even have a hard time re-reading my own work to check for errors (and there are often a lot of them). I know I have some sort of learning disability, and I am often read the wrong word. I exchange letters, and sometime read words backwards. Doing crossword puzzles is a riot for me. I read something 5 or 6 times and it doesn’t make sense. Then, my husband comes over to read it and tells me that is not word at all. So when I am asked to purchase and read a friend’s book to review, sometimes it takes me several months to get through it … that is after I get through the other 20 books in my pile that have been accumulating for over a year. I envy people who can speed read (or something of the sort). If you had any idea how many typos I already had to correct just in this one interview, you would not believe it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, personally I never quite understood why anyone would want to use another name other than their own. I have many writer friends that do, and I find it confusing when I am trying to follow their work. I forget who is who and what name they are using. I guess I always felt that I wanted my work out in the universe someday after I am gone, so I wanted everyone to know it was my work (good or bad). It meant something to have my name on a scientific paper in a professional journal when I was a chemist, which is why I kept my maiden name. I will always be me. I was born with this name, and I will be buried with this name.
Of course I can understand why women used pseudonyms back a hundred or more years ago, when women were not considered capable of being authors. Or if someone likes to write “off color” stories and doesn’t want their name attached to them, since they have family to consider.
What was your hardest scene to write?
With my poems, some come easily and some are painfully difficult to construct.
When I attempt to write short stories and fiction, almost all of it is difficult for me. I think my hardest was in a story that I wrote to be submitted to an anthology that the proceeds were to go to Australia during the wild brush fires. I wrote about a wildfire, using the imagery that I was familiar with, the Native American civilization. The hardest part was that it was supposed to be a romance story incorporating the fires. Unfortunately, even though I thought that I ended it with a romance, it was obviously not romantic enough. The romance was only a small part of it, so it was rejected from that anthology for the reason that it was NOT a romance story. I am not good at romance stories. I never read them, and am uncomfortable trying to write about them. In the end I lucked out in that another e-journal took the story as it was.
How long on average does it take you to write a book (story, poem, or play)?
As I have eluded to before, some poems come out in 5-10 minutes, and other take months to get them to where I want them.
I have written 1,000 word stories in one sitting (with some editing afterwards, of course), and I have labored over a 200 word story for over a week or more. I have never attempted a fiction book.
A book is another story. Even though I put out 2 to 3 books each year, each one is a process of its own. Sometimes I feel as if I am never going to get another entire book together again. With poetry books, I have to piece every poem in place, so I am constantly arranging, and rearranging the format, size, and content. I occasionally have 2 books going at the same time, and other times there is a long gap between books. I have been blessed that I have been able to manage writing as many books as I have. There are months when I write one or two poems almost every day. Then there are periods when I can’t make myself write anything for so long that I feel as if I may never be able to write again. That infamous dry spell of writers’ block is excruciating. It actually frightens me. But, eventually, something will pop into my little old brain, and I start penning again. I hope and pray that it never completely goes away. It has become so much of what I am, who I am.
Thank you so much for taking time out to join us for a chat, Ann Christine. It has been so interesting. To find out more about Ann Christine’s writing check out the links below.
Website: Ann Christine Tabaka
Books: Ann Christine Tabaka