We had the good fortune of connecting with T.C. Anderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi T.C., alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s your definition for success?
I’ve always found success linked to my happiness. I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person, even if those goals have changed over time as I have changed. My feeling of success has always come from accomplishing the goals I’ve set for myself. What I define as a success now – getting a book or writing piece published, getting recognized for my work, having someone tell me my work has affected them in some way – is very different than how I defined success when I was younger, because what made me happy when I was younger was very different. Do I feel like I’m successful? Yes, in many different aspects. There is no one chart of success against which everything is measured – it’s an accumulation of reaching both small and large goals I’ve set for myself. In that, I’ve always been successful.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My day job is as a graphic designer, with a dash of videography on the side. But my role as a writer and poet is the one closest to my heart, and a title, at the age of 30, I’ve finally begun to embrace fully. I’ve been writing since I was very young – I wish I still had the floppy disks my anime and video game fan fiction were saved on so I could look back and see how much I’ve improved over twenty or more years. I did a brief dive into poetry in my late high school and early college years, and even won an award from my first college’s creative arts contest for a poem I wrote (which I lost in transit when I moved to Houston). My twenties were spent figuring out my future and unconsciously creating a career in the graphic design hobby I had had since I was ten years old. Over that time, I always had a craving in the back of my mind to write, but I never saw it as worth my time. The few quick blurbs or sentences I’d vomit on paper would be saved in some folder on my backup drive and not looked at for years. Now, thirty years old, married, with a few design awards to my name, I felt confident in my direction and who I was. Between work life and married life, I didn’t have much time to think of anything else. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I suddenly had some time. My return to poetry started out as a two-fold experiment: one, as a way to learn more about building a following on Instagram. I experiment heavily with social media for my day job, and this was a perfect way to try some different things on my personal account and test the effects of audience growth. Two, as a fun writing exercise using strips of scrap paper I had from work – I would write random phrases I would think up on these strips, fold them up and throw them in a bowl, sit down with a notepad or piece of paper, and begin building poems out of the slips I randomly picked. That was in March of 2020. It’s the end of August now (as of my writing this), and I now have quintupled my Instagram following with an audience of writing enthusiasts and fellow poets; I have the second showing of an art installation with Houston artist Mari Omori called “The Branches,” which debuted at Houston Community College in early 2020, scheduled for viewing virtually in October; and a poetry collection called “The Forest” (tied in the aforementioned art exhibit) set for publication through Riza Press in November. I’ve had poems featured in multiple literary magazines, as well as a short story in an anthology, and I have plans for a second poetry collection and a novel as well much bigger project as well. I’ve never felt more myself than I do at this point in my life. While the pandemic has been life-changing and horribly affecting to so many lives, I think I, and likely many others, have found silver linings in the event, as the time has afforded me a chance to pursue a part of my identity I had continually buried.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Even after over ten years in Houston, I’m sad to say my introversion has kept me from exploring some of the greatest spots the area has to offer. But I am quite familiar with Houston’s lovely arts district, so my friend and I would likely be hitting some of the latest museum and art exhibits, along with the nearby Discovery Green. I would also want to visit some of Houston’s local bookstores like Brazos and Murder by the Book to check the latest releases or perhaps catch a signing or book reading by an author. As far as food and drink, I’d either want to find a barbecue joint for some delicious brisket or introduce my friend to the Texas-beloved Whataburger, which is always a favorite of mine.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
From the day I began dating my husband and best friend Jared, my life changed for the better, and I owe a lot of my success in life to him being my foundation, my rock, my soft place to fall. Additionally, my team in the Lone Star College-Kingwood Creative Services department have been my second family and my home away from home. In four years, we’ve been through a pandemic and a natural disaster (Hurricane Harvey) together, and we’ve become closer, better and stronger as a result. I’m blessed to have such a fantastic group of friends to work with every day. My mom and dad have also been a great support system through my ups and downs, as well as so many friends, collaborators and mentors I’ve come to know over the years. I’ve been blessed with a tight circle of great people in my life.