An Interview on the Writing Process & How San Antonio Writers are Writing through COVID-19
GEMINI INK: What role do you think writing plays in life and how is that role revealing itself as you shelter-in-place during this pandemic?
Writing plays so many roles: it is a method to teach through storytelling, it is consoling and healing in a therapeutic and self-discovery type of way. I think it’s vital because we can discover so much about ourselves in the process. Figuring out what to write, and the conversations we have when we are flushing out the topics, flow, and format are important. Even coming to the conclusions of why we aren’t writing is a form of self-discovery to me. People tell me they have writer’s block, then I ask them “why?” Get to the root of what’s blocking your voice.
GEMINI INK: Do you have any rituals you perform before you get started writing–tics, habits, even special ceremonies? How important is it to you to have a sense of sameness about your writing routine?
I pray, I worry, I procrastinate then I pray again and at some point inspiration hits. If that’s a ritual then, so be it. Every once in a while I will play a song or watch something related to the topic.
GEMINI INK: What is your favorite piece of writing advice, or feel free to offer a thought or suggestion that you feel has helped you write, even on days when the muse seems far away?
I honestly think prayer is so important and listening to the internal dialogue and even some of our conversations with others can lead to a great poem. Also, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY.
GEMINI INK: During these times of shelter-in-place, has your writing routine or habits changed in any way? And if they have not, what about your routine is helping you most negotiate this highly unusual time? Or has there been any sources of inspiration that have been especially helpful at this time?
Yes, my life is pretty different in the sense that I am home. A lot! Even when I feature, it’s from home. I spend a tremendous amount of time with my family now. I never had the opportunity to do much of that before. They are pouring so much love and support into me. My sister pipes up with ideas often. I am not used to them taking a heavy interest in the things I do. I write when it hits me or under pressure. As far as a writing routine, I definitely do not have one to speak of so that hasn’t changed. What inspires me is my desire to heal people or inspire them.
GEMINI INK: What theme or symbol often emerges in your work? Why? Do you have any new images or themes that are surfacing as you write during this pandemic?
Symbolisms of spirituality have always been present. They aren’t going anywhere. I think my work is taking on a very declarative tone. I want people to feel empowered by the confidence I am exuding. My confidence doesn’t come from me, but from what I believe God is telling me to say. I am confident in God. We all need encouragement right now. I feel my work during this season is meant to be spoken out loud and declared full of faith and knowing things will change if we believe.
GEMINI INK: Can you describe your first writing desk? How is this different (or not) from your current writing desk? Or do you not just have one?
I purchased a desk for my room a few years ago. I am trying to force myself to write from there. I mostly write at my work desk, instead of my desk at home. I have a job that requires so much multitasking and oddly I like to divide my attention between my two jobs, Writer and Main Control Tech. I like the irony of freeing my creativity while being detained in a detention facility.
GEMINI INK: Can you name a source you return to for ongoing or periodic creative inspiration?
Music and my love for people.
GEMINI INK: Do you have a favorite writing tool?
I like to write with either a keyboard and colorful gel pens. I also use the voice note app on my cell. Sometimes lines hit me when I get in my car, which is very frustrating.
GEMINI INK: Does good writing result from best practices, magic, or a bit of both? Or does effective writing stem from something else not mentioned here?
I myself really don’t do well with trying to force my writing. I used to write under the gun. Now I write when my gut (spirit) tells me to do it. I sort of believe that our power comes from external spiritual force mixed with our own will to do, some may call it magic.
GEMINI INK: What is your next project?
I am working on some multidisciplinary work with Tamara Adira of Arte y Pasion. I will overlap song, dance, and spoken word poetry. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it is gonna be soulful and funky. We are creating some mood for the very moody season we find ourselves in. I also am planning to do some digital gallery work with the posters given to me for the #MyTongueIsChallenge. I have Poet Laureate initiatives to get into. I am working with muralists to create work for Black Justice. I am working on songs with Nick Blevins and other indie music artists from San Antonio.
Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson is a San Antonio native that has been performing for over twenty years. She’s the co-host of the consecutive award-winning 2nd Verse Open Mic. She has served as a Writer in Community for Gemini Ink since 2009. She’s the winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award, awarded by Luminaria Artist Foundation (formerly known as the Artist Foundation of San Antonio). Her debut book entitled: She Lives In Music, published by FlowerSong Press, was released on Valentine’s Day 2020. Her album She Tastes Like Music, is available on all music streaming platforms. On April 1st, 2020, Andrea became the first African American, Poet Laureate of San Antonio 2020-2023. In May of 2020 she was awarded Best Live Entertainment/Band Musician of the Year by the SEA Awards. Her website can be found at andreavocabsanderson.com