M.S: 1. Being a Members Service Coordinator, what would you say are the benefits and the drawbacks (if any) of the work you focus on?
G.S: My title has changed this year to Operations Manager. The work is mostly administrative, but does involve a lot of writing in terms of grant applications, member communications, and some web writing, as well as lots of email communication.
The main benefit is the knowledge I have gained about the writing industry, or rather several writing industries—literary publishing, for example, is a different business than getting a play produced, or a screenplay. I have also learned a lot about different styles for business communication—a granting agency may like a corporate style in the grant applications, while in member communications or blog posts it may be better to use a more personal or candid style. My work here has also opened the door to other opportunities, like I became a volunteer reader for NeWest Press as a result of work with the WGA.
The main drawback is that due to the nature of the charity sector and government funding, a lot of my job involves navigating bureaucracy and making sure we are tracking finances and statistics according to the different rules of multiple agencies, and this can take a lot of time and energy from my creative work. However, in my creative fields of writing and theatre, no experience is wasted.
M.S: 2. Working with Writers Guild, have you noticed any changes to your skill set or life as a whole?
G.S: Since there is a lot of administration and navigating bureaucracy involved in my work at the WGA, I have picked up a lot of organizational skills. I don’t always use them effectively in my creative work or life in general outside work since I’m not being paid for that, but my organization and time management have improved, and that has been valuable to my life in general.
I have learned a lot about the writing industry and used that knowledge to pursue opportunities I wouldn’t have had the confidence to before.
On the creative side, due to the WGA being a hub for writers of all kinds, I have been exposed to a huge variety of writing styles. Hearing the passion in how members talk about their work led me to pick up books I wouldn’t normally think to on my own. This has expanded by range of influences tremendously.
M.S: 3. With the amazing list of accomplishments listed on your LinkedIn profile, how do you stay motivated to do the kind of work you do?
G.S: I believe in the power of language and the arts and can’t imagine not working in the arts, so I’m motivated to keep seeking out work and projects related to language, literature, and the arts and excel at them because the arts are integral to who I am. Seeing the results of both my work and the work of others is also a motivator. It’s easy to feel like one project is insignificant, but it’s part of a larger movement of writers and arts supporters to advance the arts. The grants I’ve written help to fuel projects that promote and support Alberta writing, which can then motivate writers to create and promote more work.
One accomplishment I’m especially proud of is my most recent blog post for Canadian Theatre Review, which was about one of my old professors and his impact on theatre education. It’s getting the most attention out of all my previous posts, and my professor commented that it was great to have the work of his department and students in Winnipeg showcased on a national forum. Every little bit helps spread the excellence of Canadian artists.
I’m naturally a procrastinator, but I found that if I set a timer for a short amount of time to work on a project, I usually get past the urge to procrastinate and keep going past the timer.
One of my favourite distractions while procrastinating is reading interviews and blogs from Olympic athletes, and their dedication to their sport ends up inspiring me to work harder at my writing and career. Sometimes the best inspiration and motivation comes from places unrelated to your field. In fact, if I’m feeling burned out, I’ve discovered the best way to recharge is to do something else for a while that isn’t related to literature or language, like drawing or baking. I’ve noticed if I’m stuck on how to express something in writing, I suddenly figure it out after a break from screens.
M.S: Lastly, I just wanted to cover some general questions of your pre-writing career;
M.S: 4. When did you realize that pursuing a career in writing was the right choice for you?
G.S: I always figured writing would be a part of my career in some way since I have always gotten positive feedback about my talent for writing. Recently, a play I wrote has received universally positive reactions, and has led me to think I should pursue professional playwriting seriously.
M.S: 5. How did writing impact your life prior to getting a career and how has it impacted you today?
G.S: Since my favourite art forms are theatre and books, the work of writers has always impacted me life. I have always been a bookworm and reading a lot is very important to a writing career, so could say the work of writers creates other writers. I have to be reading something all the time, even if it’s just articles or Twitter posts on my phone, so I don’t know what I would do without the writers.
A lot of discussions come up about how art saves people, and the art that is important to someone is due to how it saves them. So writing is an art form that saved me, but so did the visual arts. This is a reason most of my creative work is in theatre since it uses both writing and visuals, but it’s also why I love graphic novels and video games with good storylines—combination of writing and visuals is my favourite aesthetic and has impacted me all my life.