Introducing Barbara Carter, author of four books. She writes poetry, short stories and memoirs.
1.You have a passion for many art forms, including writing, painting, and needle and thread. What inspires you to say, “Today I’m going to write.”?
I’d always been interested in writing, but felt I had to choose between writing or visual art. That was my limited thinking. It took many years for me to realize I could do both and even combine the two.
For me, creating images was a safer way of expressing myself. People can love and connect with an image but may not consciously know why. With writing, especially memoir, there is no hiding. I was once a very shy insecure person who believed I had nothing of value to say. During my journey as a visual artist I came to a point in my life where I needed words to say what I had to say, to stop hiding behind the safety of image.
Now I usually write in the morning and create images in the evening.
- Of all the books you’ve written, which satisfied you the most after it was published?
If I must choose the book that most satisfied me, it would be the first, probably because the first time for anything is usually the most memorable. The first book was a sixteen-year journey. A book I was never sure would ever happen. I’d carried it with me for such a long time. Tearing it apart, restructuring and rearranging it.
Stepping out and claiming myself as a writer was both terrifying and exciting. It also made me a believer in timing and that there’s a right time for things to happen. It marked the end of my earthly relationship with my mother. A difficult relationship. Six hours after the book was uploaded for publishing, my mother died. She having no idea about the book. I chose not to tell her because I knew she’d never understand and I’d long since given up on ever receiving her acceptance or approval.
- With four books published, if a reader could read only one, which would it be? Why?
If a reader could read just one, I’d say start with my first book, Floating in Saltwater, because childhood marks the pattern for what follows in our life. So many, I believe, brush-off and dismiss the importance of that time period. But children are like sponges, and they absorb everything around them. They overhear adult conversations and witness their actions. Children must ultimately choose what to believe and learn whether to trust their inner voice. Especially when it’s difficult to trust in the adults around you, for home is not always sweet, and childhood not always wonderful. So much of our future life choices and decisions then come from these confusing childhood experiences where we may not have gained the healthy life skills and boundaries necessary for a good functional adult existence.
In the back of that book there is also a list of questions for the reader to explore their own childhood. I wanted the book to be more than just my story, for it to also be a starting off point for a reader to explore their own experiences.
- What is the title of your most recently published book? What is it about?
My most recently published book turned into two books. In 2018, I published my third memoir Loose Gravel, which finally summed up many questions from the first book. I thought that memoir was about a teenage girl becoming a woman making the decisions that would declare her independence, especially from her mother. What I believed would complete my freedom was choosing a career, losing my virginity and leaving home. While writing the book, I discovered it was about so much more — I learned about unresolved grief.
As part of my healing journey, I printed out my remaining teenage poems onto cream-coloured linen paper and then created free-associated drawings of female images around those earlier words. It was a project I was doing only for myself but when I shared what I had with friends, they encouraged me to publish it. That book is SAD girl, BAD Girl and I. “Sad” girl and “bad” girl are the young women who wrote the poetry, and I as the adult who lovingly now accepts them by surrounding their/my words with my drawings.
- What’s the title of the book you’re currently writing? What is it about, and when will it be available?
The title of the book I’m currently writing is AIN’T EASY. It marks the period in my life where I had gained what I considered my freedom. I no longer had a mother to battle and fight against but could make my own decisions, or so I thought.
The story is about a young woman looking for love and happiness in all the wrong places, losing herself with bad decision-making and addiction, all the while trying to change the road she’s on.
- You’ve held several shows over the years to showcase your work. Do you have any scheduled for 2020? If so, when and where?
Since last year was such a busy one, I wanted to slow down this year to focus more on writing. So, I don’t have any shows planned yet. But you can always find my artwork and books at ART 1274 Hollis Gallery, Halifax. I can also be found there one or two days a month working, as it is a cooperative gallery of twenty-four artists who manage and staff the gallery.
- Do you have any writing events scheduled this spring? If so, please, let us know.
I don’t have any writing events scheduled this spring. I’m saving all my energy for the fall and the release of my next book. But if an opportunity comes along for some writing event that seems appropriate, I’ll most likely partake.
- You facilitate workshops to create art. Where can we learn more about these?
I have been getting back into facilitating more workshops for creating art. Currently I’ve been travelling to Truro doing a workshop every two months which is leading up to the creation of a 6-foot woman.
Information about my workshops can be found on my Facebook page. Plus, I welcome small groups in my studio in Lower Sackville.
I will also be offering an Ink Tree workshop April 22nd at the Fall River Recreation Centre this spring.
- Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Barbara, for the wonderful interview.