When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For many years, it was hard for me to consider myself a writer. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, so my educational experience led me to adopt the belief that a person can’t call themselves something without a certificate or diploma to say that they’ve earned that title. After all, psychology majors aren’t psychologists. And biology majors aren’t biologists.
But are music majors musicians? Typically.
Are English majors writers? Probably—if they write.
And there are many self-taught (non-degree) musicians, singers, and artists blessing our world with their talents. So, does a person need a college degree to call themselves a writer? No.
It’s quite simple. If you write, you’re a writer. And so, about five years after I finished the first draft of my novel, I realized that I was consistently writing and editing fiction and poetry. At that point, I shifted my mindset and felt comfortable enough to consider myself a writer.
Which came first: fiction, poetry, or photography?
Hmm. It depends on which decade of my life we are considering. In my teens, poetry came before fiction. Back then, I wrote for fun without any thought of publication. When I entered my junior year of college (in my late teens), I stopped writing creatively. Life went on. Then, on a wintry day when I was 40 years old, a story fell into my head—my first novel. The novel led me back to poetry. So, in my fifth decade, fiction came before poetry, and both came before photography. Since March of 2020, I’ve been a hobby photographer. I’m curious where my sixth decade will lead me. I’ll find out in a couple of years!
Tell me about your books.
So, as I mentioned, back when I was a teen, I didn’t have any thought of publication, but publication became a goal after I realized I had a novel to share with the world.
My novel is…different, and I don’t expect it to gain a huge readership; however, there are readers who will fall in love with it and those are the readers my novel is seeking. I need to help Rosalie’s Apple Tree find her readers. She is a work of sensual contemporary fiction for an adult audience, and she’s not yet published.
I have one published book—Fantastical for Real—a chapbook full of my unique brand of prose poetry inspired by a metaphysical connection that resulted in significant inner growth. In Fantastical for Real, I invite readers to join me on a (self) love journey. It’s available on Amazon and can be purchased online through most major retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
Other books live in my mind. Two of them are novels based on characters in Rosalie’s Apple Tree. I am driven to continue writing one of these novels when I find the time; I’m unsure whether I’ll write the other. I also have a ghost story in my head. I’m driven to write the ghost story (again, when I find the time), which would be a novel for a young adult audience. Ideas for poetry books live in my mind, too.
How does a story/poem begin for you?
They begin when I’m gifted something to write.
I never tell myself, “Today, I’m writing a poem about ___.” Actually, none of my writing is premeditated. I simply write when ideas come to me. And that’s the beauty of having a day job that doesn’t require me to write creatively for a living—I create when I’m gifted something to create. I never force it.
Does a person create (and, subsequently, sell) many books when they don’t set a schedule for writing? Not really. But writing lots of books and selling them are not my top priority in life. I have a family and a career to take care of, so writing happens when it happens. I couldn’t force it even if I wanted to. I don’t have the time.
What have been your greatest obstacles to overcome when writing?
I bet you can guess. It’s lack of time and energy. I write in the spaces between my career (as a psychologist), my family’s needs (which are constant), and my social life (which is critical for my marriage and mental health). Every time I write (which is sometimes on my phone in the aisle of the local home improvement store), I feel guilty for looking at my phone or computer or note pad. Every moment that I write is a moment stolen from my family. And that guilt is heavy. But my family…I can’t tell you how many times my children and husband have moved me to tears by saying, “Don’t stop writing.” I think they take pride in what I’m working toward, and that’s a precious thing.
Is the experience of writing fiction different from writing poetry?
For me, writing fiction is different from writing poetry.
My poetry starts with an emotion and a word or phrase that comes to me out of the blue—often while I’m in the shower. (Something about water triggers my creativity.) I write from that “connected” space inside of me, and then I edit the poem until it is cohesive and moves my emotions in some way.
In contrast, my fiction starts with a concept, which I write as once sentence. As ideas come, I write them down—all messy and misunderstood—while I work on expanding that sentence into a book blurb. I start small by writing my story as one sentence first, and then expanding it to a few paragraphs, and then expanding it into a synopsis, and then expanding it into a novel—all while taking notes on ideas as they come. My first novel was written the other way around, and that’s much, much harder—but a big part of that difficulty was the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I’ve begun writing my second novel (although I’m on hiatus from that task at the moment), and starting small is working well for me.
What current projects should we be looking out for?
I’m currently working on finalizing Rosalie’s Apple Tree for publication. At the moment, she’s in the hands of yet another beta reader. Whether I move forward with publication in the next year depends, in part, on the feedback I receive from this reader. If I choose to move forward, Rosalie’s Apple Tree will be published in spring of 2022 (if not before).
I’m also beginning work on a book that will marry my nature poetry with my nature photography. I’d like to release that poetry/photography book in spring of 2022 as well.
What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
It’s quite simple: I hope readers will draw meaning from, and feel the heart that beats within, the pages of each book I create. Thus, it’s my dream that my books find their readers.
What advice would you give other writers?
Learn how to edit your writing. If the terms “comma splice” and “compound adjective” are foreign to you, it’s possible that some of your writing is lacking proper punctuation and sentence structure. If you aren’t already in the practice of identifying overused or unnecessary words in your writing, learn how to do so. If you don’t yet understand how to “show” instead of “tell”, do some more research and practice, practice, practice. Hint: if you don’t write poetry, give it a try. Writing poetry can be a fun way to practice showing!
Ann Garcia has a Ph.D. in psychology. Her creative writing, which is highly introspective and evocative, primarily explores nature, self, and love. She draws inspiration from waters and woodlands within the Great Lakes region of the USA and her life as a wife/artist/mother/scientist.
Ann is active within the poetry community on Instagram where she’s a member of The First Line Poets Project. Find her on Instagram @solaceinraindrops or in the nearest garden where she’s bound to be taking photos of blooms, bees, or slime mold while holding off two corgis and trying not to hear her kids yelling, “Mom!”
Check out Ann's Website https://anngarciabooks.com/ where you can hear her read her poetry and her link list to find out where else she is published or subscribe to her newsletter https://anngarciabooks.com/links/
All images belong to author.