This is the first of a series of posts that highlights our members in a fun way. Our members are diverse. We have student members still completing their degree, some members with decades of experience and everything in between. The Member Spotlight will give you a sense of who makes up the Quebec chapter of the Professional Writers Association Canada, an organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!
Why do you do the kind of writing you do?
Because whenever I try to do anything else, I think about stories I want to write—fiction, usually, but also CNF. I also write poetry from time to time. It’s hard for me to invest myself in other things when my mind is constantly circling back to writing. But I do corporate blog and content writing, editing, and translation to pay the bills.
How do you deal with writers’ block? If you don’t experience writers’ block, why is that? What’s your secret?
To me, the idea of writer’s block implies that writers have to feel inspired to work. But that’s not how books are written. E.B. White said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” And any writer who’s worked on a long-term project can probably relate to that sentiment.
I’m not saying I always want to write. In fact, most of the time I don’t feel like writing because it’s challenging. Putting words on the page is scarier than thinking about the words that could be on the page. Once they’re on that page, they can be judged. Whereas an idea has infinite potential.
There are many obstacles to writing—fear, anxiety, domestic stuff, having to make a living—but to me, it’s not about being blocked or unblocked.
What’s the most unusual thing that you have experienced in writing, researching or interviewing for a story?
As a freelancer, I’ve written about a lot of weird stuff. New-agey things, like astral travel or clearing the chakras. I’ve also had to write about things I don’t have any experience with—like parenting and football. It’s a challenge.
If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Tough question. Since I was in my early teens, I’ve admired CanLit’s female pioneers—Margaret Laurence, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, and Gabrielle Roy.
There are so many more resources available to writers today. CanLit is a thing—it wasn’t back when they were starting out. But if today’s writers still have complexes about writing not being a productive endeavour, how did writers feel half a century ago? How did they overcome those feelings without a community, without the support of other writers, especially other women writers? It amazes me.
What made you want to join PWAC originally? What’s the best thing about being a PWAC member?
I think PWAC does a great service to Canadian writers in focusing on the business side of writing—contracts, negotiation, payment, etc. When I give quotes to new clients I still sometimes find I lack confidence, because creative work is so undervalued in our society. But creative work is still work.
If you were given $40,000 to fulfill a life-long dream, what would that be and why?
I would put it towards a down payment on real estate in Montreal—I dream about a place with a little shoebox office that I could call my own. It’s not exactly a lifelong dream since I’ve only been living in the city for three years. But I feel an overwhelming amount of love for this city. I’m planning on staying.
Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt
Montreal-Based Writer & Editor