Ann Christine Tabaka Interview exclusively for ILA Magazine Good day to our ILA Readers. Today, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Ann Christine Tabaka. Ann Christine and I have previously worked on two of her book covers for which I am grateful. After reading her poetry books, I learned what an amazing poet and writer she truly is.
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the "Who's Who of Emerging Writers 2020 and 2021," published by Sweetycat Press. She is the author of 14 poetry books, and one short story book. She lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: Caroline Muse, Sparks of Calliope, The Closed Eye Open, Poetic Sun, Tangled Locks Journal, Wild Roof Journal, The American Writers Review, The Phoenix, Burningword Literary Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Silver Blade, Pomona Valley Review, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Fourth & Sycamore. * (A complete list of publications is available upon request)
Carl: Thank you, Ann Christine, for your time today, my first question is, I know you write poetry and short stories. Do you favor one over the other and why? Ann Christine: I consider myself primarily a poet, or at least I feel more comfortable writing poems, musings, and abstract thoughts. I actually struggle to write stories. I was encouraged by several of my close fiction writing friends to try to write a few stories, so I challenged myself to do so. I managed okay, I guess, but it is still not something that comes naturally to me. The hardest part for me is to come up with a complete story and make it interesting, with all the details. I can always come up with a decent beginning, a decent middle, but I am not good at having a conclusion in mind before I start writing a story. That is a real problem. Also, I am one of those people who prefer the nitty-gritty and want to 'be told' a story, not 'shown' a ton of details, so that is how I write. Most editors prefer the "show me, not tell me" form of writing.
Carl: Following you on Facebook, I noticed what a prolific amount of your work is published. What are your best advice or secrets to being published so many times? Ann Christine: Just keep pushing [or as Dory would say, "keep on swimming"]. I actually do not get published anywhere near as much as some of my more established poet friends. I write a moderate amount, but I submit vigorously - sometimes I send poems to was many as 10 different journals at the same time, knowing that the majority of them will most likely reject my work. It is by sheer volume of exposure that I manage to get published at all.
Carl: The hardest part for me is having the idea for a poem or short story. Before you sit down to write, how do you develop the idea? Do you have an outline in your head or do you just start writing? Ann Christine: I rarely have an outline. Most ideas just come to me, usually in the middle of the night. I can always come up with a few good lines, then I get lost, and have to put the poem down until a later time, hoping I can manage to pick up the flow and idea again later. Since I now write mostly abstract and experimental poems, it is even harder for me to bring all the ideas together and create a poem with a central theme. As far as my short stories, 95% of them are based on a personal true experience, place, person, etc. I rarely write pure fantasy. So, yes, it is very hard for me to come up with ideas.
Carl: What is your best advice for a new writer? Ann Christine: Just keep reading work by other writers and poets, especially the successful ones. And never give up. I write some real garbage, but I just put it aside and think of it as clearing out the junk from my mind. Eventually, I produce something that is not too bad, then I run with it. Write, write, and write some more. And do not forget to proofread. That is so important. I have learned (the hard way) to read and reread, then read aloud, sometimes 4, 5, or 6 times before I release a piece or work. And, I still find typos and errors in a lot of my work.
Carl: Please tell the ILA Magazine your future plans and what one thing in your literary life would you love to accomplish? Ann Christine: I am still trying for that "pie in the sky" (excuse the cliché expression). I have never gotten into one of the top tier publications, that many of my literary friends have. I keep submitting and keep getting rejected (one place I am up to twenty-five rejections, and it has a steep reading fee to boot)! If I ever make it, that would be my pinnacle. Then, and only then, would I feel able to call myself a real poet.
Carl: Please tell us Christine, what you like best about ILA Magazine group and their webpage/blog? Ann Christine: I have only recently looked at the ILA webpage. I was not familiar with it before. It is very well done and professional looking. I am impressed with the quality of work displayed there. I must thank Carl Scharwath for introducing me to it.
Carl: Thank you so much Christine, your new ILA family hopes you reach that top tier publication and we will continue to follow your journey.
Carl Scharwath, from the sunshine state of Florida, is the Art Editor of Minute Magazine and a Contributing Editor at ILA Magazine. His work has appeared globally, with 150+ journals, selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, art/photography, and most recently, plays. He is the author of four books.