avatar for Anne Garvin

Anne Garvin

The Tall Poppy Writers
Ann Garvin is the author of The Dog Year and On Maggie's Watch. She lives in Stoughton, WI, and is a professor of sports psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a MFA teacher in New Hampshire.

In her own words:
I exploded from the U.P. like a soft nerf gob from a straw and travelled all the way to exotic Duluth, MN. Once there I yakked (talked not vomited) my way through Nursing school at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. In fact, I talked so much and slept so little that my lung collapsed, I got mononucleosis and tonsilities followed by a tonsillectomy. Each in a different year I attended. In the summers I worked in the Youth Conservation Corps, was a Nanny in Vail, Colorado, waitressed, waitressed some more, taught aerobics in tight pink and black spandex and, became head tour guide at the college. After graduating I learned ASL and became the camp nurse for the blind, deaf, and handicapped, transitioned to paraplegics at Mayo then Post Traumatic Stress patients at the Veteran’s hospital in Madison, WI. Between calling in sick and being convinced, as the nuns at college predicted, that I would kill someone, I enrolled in graduate school. Never once writing a slice of anything beyond a letter home or to friends. EXCEPT I did write a letter to Irma Bombeck who wanted to meet for lunch and, that got me thinking. I must have written something she liked. So, I finished my masters in exercise physiology (Go Badgers) and flinchingly signed up for another tour of torture – PhD in exercise psychology. In between I did theater, backpacked through Europe (twice), swam in Jamaica, Greece, Hawaii, Kuai, and ate my way through Egypt. In between I learned that my mentor found my writing to be among the worst he’d ever tried to edit. In response, I performed in the Vagina Monologues several times and took too long finishing my dissertation. Instead, I got headshots taken and made commercials, learned hypnosis for research purposes, got married, gave birth to my soul mate, gave birth to my other soul mate, graduated and finally, got a job I could get my head around. Teaching. Let the angels sing. Still, forcing the writing that I had to do for science not for love. By then I had become an adequate writer but each sentence was a struggle, each line a night mare. But I did it. I published, got tenure, became a professor, started wearing a mouth guard during the day lest I grind my teeth to nubs writing science.

When the moment happened I was in a hotel, showering in San Francisco when the phone rang. It was the Wisconsin Book Festival (WBF) calling to say that I won second place in their 24-hour writing contest. With absolutely no experience in creative writing, I’d entered a contest where the WBF provided a photograph and the task was to write, in one day, a story of no more than 2000 words and send it off. First short story (Daydream Believer) I’d ever written, first contest I’d ever entered. No one on earth was more surprised than I was.