Introducing Annie Barker
March 18, 2023
2023 has been a fast moving train thus far. One minute I was celebrating the new year and then I blinked and somehow it’s mid-March. Part of the reason for that is the sheer number of exciting new endeavors we have going on at TGLR– the launch of Micro Monday, book reviews, a team reading, AWP, contributor interviews and promo, and of course our quarterly issues. With all this, my plan to introduce new and existing team members has waned a bit but I’m excited to pick up where I left off at the turn of the year and shine a spotlight on our editors, their writing lives, and their contributions to our efforts. And today I’m pleased to present highlights of my Q&A with Annie Barker who is not only an editor on our flash nonfiction team but also serves an associate editor.
Annie has been with TGLR since day one and has never wavered in her dedication to our mission and vision. Late in 2022, when I asked the team if anyone wanted to volunteer more time to fill gaps in our processes, Annie was among the first to jump in. She’s now doing all the copy editing for our quarterly issues as well as leading an email campaign to connect to other writing programs in the region. I’m grateful she’s been open to assisting as we learn and grow.
I’m also grateful she took the time to answer some questions so I could share more about her life and her thoughts on writing. The first question, and one of my favorites, is about when she discovered her love of writing.
Apparently (and this is so embarrassing) I learned this shortly before I wrote the words “As I must breathe, so must I write” in my childhood journal. I don’t know how old I was when I wrote this because after discovering this passage as an adult I immediately ripped out the page and shredded it.
I then asked what prompted her to get an MFA.
I actually never intended to enter the MFA program. I was just going to enroll in UNO for one MFA Enrichment semester (essentially the same as one semester of the program, but with no commitment to continue). I had it all figured out. I was working on a memoir about my search for my biological father and my plan was to attend one residency to learn some useful things, and then work with a mentor for a few months to whip that book into shape.
I clearly didn’t know what I was getting into. Shortly after arriving at the lodge for my Enrichment residency, I called my husband and told him, “Ah, sweetie, I have some bad news. I want to enter the program,” because at some point during those first two days, I realized that in this motley group of creative, hardworking, and courageous writers, I had found my people.
Even more miraculous, I had also rediscovered a forgotten part of myself, a creative, playful, risk-taking part I had last encountered around the age of – oh, I don’t know – twelve? I knew a good thing when I felt it, so I took the leap.
I also asked Annie some of the same questions we’ve asked our contributing authors over the past year including what the most difficult and satisfying parts of the artistic process are for her.
Like many writers, I find the blank page a little terrifying. I’m getting better at just diving in wherever (which is the best advice I’ve received on this subject), but if I find myself reorganizing my sock drawer it’s probably because I’m starting something new.
As for something satisfying, I LOVE the revision process. I think this is because I generally, in a lot of areas of my life, like to improve things (my handwriting, my house, my husband).
Well played Mrs. Barker!! I then asked her if there ar any personal writing projects she’s actively working on.
I divide my time between writing CNF essays and poetry and shepherding my long-form memoir (working title is “Searching For Sea Glass,” and it’s about the search for my biological father) toward publication.
And of course I wrapped up the Q&A with our classic Nebraska TGLR question, which is what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life.”
I immediately think of something that’s been hard to for me to achieve–a balanced life. One that offers equal time for serious work, creative writing, rest, quality time with family and friends, and opportunities to play and be silly. This might ultimately be a quixotic goal, but I think Nebraska, with its wide open spaces and laid-back work culture, is a place that encourages a purposeful life, so I plan to stay here for a long time and try to get as close as I can to the ideal.
Annie… Thank you for taking that “leap” with us too and for your thoughtfulness and dedication. We are fortunate to have you on the team and I’m grateful for all the care and consideration you give to each and every piece of writing!!
PS. More about Annie and all of our TGLR editors is available on the Masthead.