In this interview, I was fortunate enough to be connected with writer Kathryn Charr. As a scholar with various English literature and languages credentials, Charr divulged insightful wisdom regarding her apprehension of effective writing techniques and motivations. She also recounted her early experiences as a writer and provides pragmatic advice in overcoming common setbacks. Aside from her writing, Charr has worked in numerous financial organizations such as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and Toronto-Dominion (TD) Private Wealth and has established a commendable career in financial management. She also maintains an active presence in the Edmonton community through her participation in volunteer initiatives such as the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Edmonton. Charr successfully balances her career, family, and writing by adhering to a rigorous discipline that she shares to aspiring writers.
Aside from your finance-related credentials, your educational background is concentrated around the arts and languages. How did you get into literature and writing? Were there any major setbacks or conflicts in the beginning? If so, how did you deal with them?
“Writing has always been a part of who I am… [though] through the course of life… it is easy to let writing take a back seat. …seeing writing as a way to channel insight and creativity into the ordinary has helped me overcome setbacks. Rejection by others and self-editing are crippling, but… focusing on [compendious expression and] believing in yourself is very important… Know and understand your voice.”
To what extent do your values and beliefs affect your writing? Do you like to express yourself as part of your work or do you prefer to remain distinct/separated?
“My values and beliefs deeply affect my writing, but I try to be objective – ensure that I have all the facts, research carefully, engage in new experiences, speak with varied number of people… to gain perspective-… I prefer to remain separate so that the joy of the reading experience is the reader’s alone.”
Having multitudinous commitments, how do you balance your regular schedule and writing? Any tips for those who struggle with chronic procrastination?
“…it would be a mistake to write only when inspired – scheduling a time dedicated to write can be helpful… even the merest of words written, perhaps in a journal, creates a discipline and sense of accomplishment. Understanding why you procrastinate is key… Maybe you don’t find the perfect words but out of the process of writing any words, comes clarity of thought.”
There are many preconceived notions that discourage many to begin writing (e.g. fear of criticism). How did you overcome these fears? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
“…criticism of one’s writing can seem to be a personal attack, but… one must believe that they have [the] words to say… [Expression is] a craft that becomes honed with skill and experience. It is difficult sometimes to separate from the words we’ve used, believing they are the most perfect, but… [viewing] objectively what is expressed by the reader can help us… create an even stronger message… If we want to be heard, we have to listen to the negative… and continue to create.”
Charr’s proficiency and experience was evident from her responses and advices. Her perspective of writing “…as a way to channel insight and creativity into the ordinary” resonated with my understanding of literature as a malleable platform that allows for the unrestricted expression of self and creativity. From my experience, writing provides an insight in the evolution of one’s knowledge; ergo openness to criticism helps further improve their capabilities.