We recently connected with T.C. Anderson and have shared our conversation below.
T.C., appreciate you joining us today. Do you have a hero? What have you learned from them?
My husband, Jared. He’s been my grounding from the very beginning of our relationship and marriage, my logical center, and despite the little irritating things he sometimes does (as you’d expect to find between any couple), I’m in great admiration of the great man he is and has become.
Two weeks after we wed at the courthouse in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and flooded both our home and workplace. We were displaced to my parents’ house for several weeks while we figured out what to do and how to proceed. We both took some time to absorb the gravity of what was happening, but as soon as he took a step back and surveyed the situation, he didn’t hesitate to move forward and do what needed to be done to get us back under a livable roof again, all the while finishing his degree and working part-time remotely.
He has always challenged me in my thought processes, willingly playing devil’s advocate to my emotional stances to help me logic out a situation and develop a plan of action. At the same time, though, he’s always been my soft place to fall, a trusting shoulder to cry on when it feels like the world has us surrounded. He has never seen me as less than the person I hope I am, never regarded my ambitions or ideas as crazy, and has somehow continued to love me through my ups and downs (and swears he loves me even more because of them).
I’m one of the lucky ones – I got to marry my best friend, and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.
T.C., love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
My day job is in graphic design, but my other self-appointed job is a published writer/poet, author, and (occasional) artist.
I published my first poetry collection, a chapbook called The Forest, in April 2021 through Riza Press. The book serves as the inspirational basis of a developing art installation between myself and Houston artist & educator Mari Omori, whose been an amazing mentor in my creative processes. The book was crafted using a paper slip poetry method, during which I wrote disconnected phrases on slips of paper, tossed them into a bowl, and drew randomly from the phrases to assemble a poetic narrative. The method has led to an artist talk and two workshops thus far (videos of both are posted on YouTube).
Additionally, I have had several poems and short stories published in literary journals such as Capsule Stories, Sunday Mornings at the River, The Raven Review, and The Metaworker, as well as anthologies Venus Rising: Musings & Lore from Women Writers, Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective, and Quillkeepers Press’s Sapling. My short story, “Letter to the Boy at the Grocery Store,” was the winner of the Christmas Short Story Competition from Poetic Reveries magazine in 2021 and published in their third issue.
I am querying my second book (a full-length poetry collection), feverishly writing my third book (a short story/flash fiction collection), and outlining my first novel, all the while still submitting to journals and anthologies with poems and stories when I can (and occasionally getting sidelined with writing fun fan-fiction).
I have always been a writer and storyteller, even as a kid, and it took me a lot of trial and tribulation – and a pandemic – to get me to the point of confidence within myself and my ability to finally step foot into the world and put my stories out there. Despite my anxiety about what future I have in the world of writing and publishing (and the general feeling that I’m just flying by the seat of my pants at any given time), I am extremely proud of myself for finally embracing this part of me and declaring myself a writer and storyteller above anything else.
There are so many other facets of myself that I plan to show to my audience and the world as I put more of my work out there, but for now, I hope they find the love I put into every single word I write and stick around for so much more to come.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
Well, my first book, The Forest, came about during a global pandemic, all while I was working on-call from home & on-site when needed as well as studying full-time online for my Bachelor’s degree. I was probably the busiest I had ever been during the pandemic because I took the opportunity the world had presented for me to slow down and recalculate, made a plan for what I wanted from my future, and went for it full force.
When I turned 30 at the very end of 2019, it unexpectedly turned into one of the more formative years of my life. I feel like I started to really come into my own and become who I had always wanted to be, and challenging myself in so many different ways was a large part of that.
Whenever my anxiety flares up about something small, I try my best to reflect on the person I was in 2020 and 2021, willingly diving headfirst into unknowns to see what would happen, and it helps me refocus my energy to where it needs to be. I’m not quite where I’d like to be, of course. But if you had told me five years ago I’d be where I am now, I would’ve probably said publishing my first book would be where I’d like to be, and I’ve already done that. Once I hit a goal post, I enjoy it, but I always try to move it so I can continue to grow.
How did you build your audience on social media?
I want to preface this answer by saying I, in contrast to a lot of people, do not have a very robust social media following. But both my experience in growing an audience through my creative ventures and working in the creative side of marketing for my day job has enlightened me to a few things about how it generally works, especially in the particular niche area of writing and poetry (primarily on Instagram, but these base principles work elsewhere too).
First, consistent posting is a good habit to have. I use Facebook Creator Studio and Google Calendar religiously, and plan out & schedule my posts anywhere from two weeks to a month in advance (with an announcement post of a new journal release or something else occasionally rearranging a few items on the calendar). I only post Reels from my phone – everything else is nine times out of ten prescheduled at a consistent time. Consistency helps the algorithm recognize that you’re contributing to the system on a regular basis and aids your audience in knowing when they can expect new work.
Second and more important than the first, engagement is absolutely key. Social media is not a passive construct – you cannot post content, sit back, and hope to gain a following. You have to engage with the community you’re in. Likes are great, saving is top-tier in Instagram’s eyes, but comments are extremely valuable to the people you engage with. It shows you took time with their work. So many guides swear posting every day will gain you a following quickly, and they’re probably not wrong, but a quick following is not to be strived for: an engaged one is. And you can only get out of the platform what you put into it. So don’t worry so much about posting content on a conveyor belt as much as engaging with those in your field and community.
I won’t go into other good practices like hashtag use because the principles on that and other things can vary from platform to platform. But something that is consistent across all social media is this reminder: You are a not a robot, but a creative, so don’t lose sight of why you create in the first place. I regularly take breaks from posting to breathe and remind myself of this. It can become a very unhealthy thing to your creative process and mental health in general if you don’t separate yourself away from the social media machine every once in a while. Allow yourself to do that. No following or amount of likes is worth sacrificing your health over.