Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gals We Admire: Catherine Graham

Catherine Graham sounds like she's got a career that's poetry in motion. As a creative writing instructor, a writing mentor/coach and a poet (amongst other things), Graham says her work energizes her spirit.

Name: Catherine Graham
Profession: Writer, Poet, University of Toronto Creative Writing Instructor, Creative Writing Mentor/Coach, Creativity Workshop Leader, Editor

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
After coffee and toast and a quick read through The Globe and Mail, I get into writing mode. Poetry or fiction, whatever I happen to be working on at the time. My mind is freshest in the morning so I try to take advantage of that by dealing with emails/clients/teaching/etc in the afternoon. I go to the gym as often as I can. When I’m not able to take a spinning class, I read on the stationary bike – novels, essays, short stories. Evenings I’m not at a literary event as either reader or audience member, I’m at home with my partner.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I wanted to be a singer but I’m afraid I don’t have the voice. The best I can do with the musical line is to write poetry.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
When it comes to writing, I love being immersed in the world of the imagination – free from daily worries and concerns and into the flow of words and where words take you. When it comes to teaching, mentoring and leading workshops, I enjoy being the catalyst to the creative life in others. It energizes my spirit.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
The biggest challenge when it comes to creative writing is to believe in yourself. The life of the writer is a life full of unknowns, unknowns you must make peace with to get to the core of the imagination and “bring” the work out.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
My calling to the writing life came after the deaths of my parents. I was an undergrad at the time, studying psychology, with no thoughts of becoming a writer. To make a long story short, through journaling about grief I found my way to the writing life.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Pay attention to what energizes and excites you.

Learn your craft by taking the time to learn your craft. There are no shortcuts.

Learn from setbacks and keep moving forward.

1 comment:

  1. What a great read!
    I think the truth of Catherine's statement "The life of the writer is a life full of unknowns, unknowns you must make peace with..." is unassailable, and I know from her writings that she has consistently shown herself to possess the talents and deep courage of a true writer, someone willing to confront the "unknowns".
    As e.e. cummings said elsewhere "the deep unknowingness" that is the hallmark of Catherine's commitment to her craft is "...a truth more first than sun more last than star" Congratulations on a great interview!