Since 2010, I have co-organized a monthly mixer group in Edmonton for creative women professionals. I am constantly amazed by their expertise and experience, and thought I would do Q&A’s with them to get their stories – and tips!
SG Wong attended the University of Alberta, where she earned a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature. After that lively (mis)adventure, she lived in Japan, where she continued her studies in Japanese, occasionally taught English, and met a very intriguing man. In her spare time now, she is the mother of two school-aged children.
How are you involved in the community?
I’m currently Vice President of the Get Publishing Communications Society. I am also one of an enormous cadre of volunteers working to put on this year’s conference, Words in 3 Dimensions (wordsin3d.com), happening May 24-26, right here in Edmonton.
In the world outside of writing, I volunteer with my neighbourhood community garden. Although I don’t garden there, I help put on speakers and workshops for the entire neighbourhood. Also, I have the privilege of organizing the Staff Appreciation Lunch every year at my children’s school. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to show our teachers and support staff that we, as a parent community, are grateful for their commitment to our children.
What is the best thing about your career?
The best thing about my career is that I set my own hours and I’m a workaholic. I can slip into my office whenever I have a spare moment and jot down notes or “scribble” out a scene (on the laptop). I like the flexibility of my hours immensely. I can volunteer at my children’s school or be involved in my community garden and still write. I’m also able to take my children to and pick them up from school. The pick-up time is especially nice after a day of transcribing the noise and “busy-ness” inside my head (ie., writing).
This is my dream career; it truly is.
Where do you hope to be in a year? Two years? Five years?
I’m not big on “career projections,” but I am good at daydreaming. So, let’s see. I imagine myself travelling more to conferences across Canada and the States (expenses paid, of course!). When my children are older, I hope they travel with me to some conferences as well. It’s a fun, adventurous way to spend time with them individually, which I think is so important to our relationship.
My plans for my working life include a steady cycle of writing/editing/promoting. At any given time, I imagine I should have one book in promotions, one in editing and another in the draft writing stage. I’m not sure I can manage more than three at a time, but I guess I’ll see.
I also want to continue my volunteer activities, within the writing community, but also beyond.
How do you network? What works best for you?
So let me start with why I network. There’s the pure social aspect. As a novelist, I spend huge amounts of time in isolation. It’s wonderful to have a reason—beyond children–related events—to get out and talk to real, living people. Especially when it’s with people who share career interests or general nerdiness with me. It’s a way to recharge my batteries, so to speak. There’s the fact that I am promoting myself and—dare I say it? yes, ok, here it is—my brand. As a novelist publishing with a digital-first imprint headquartered far away, I have the lion’s share of marketing to do for myself. I network to get my name out there. Finally, there’s the fact that I look for ways to contribute to others. This is really the most important reason for me. I love being able to refer someone to someone else; to share a resource with others; to help out by being available and generous.
For live events, I prefer a casual atmosphere at nothing shorter than monthly intervals. A month gives me time to accomplish things worth sharing about. And to find new people to introduce to the group.
For online networking, I actually quite enjoy using Twitter and Facebook. It’s fun and can be creative, as well as surprising. It gives me links to many more blogs and professionals, local and otherwise, than I could scare up on my lonesome. Plus, when my kids and husband catch me on it, I can truthfully say that I’m working.
What is your proudest moment?
My proudest moment, huh? I might just have to choose the very first time I sent out my manuscript to an agent, in the Fall of 2010. I was such a newbie; hadn’t networked my way into any introductions; had nothing but a list of agencies and a whole lot of worries. In fact, I recall vividly how tempting it was for me to keep tinkering with my manuscript instead of releasing it into the wild.
But I did it. I wrote up a strong query letter and synopses of various lengths. I had a list of agents and publishers and a dream…
Ok, seriously. I was proud of myself for putting my work out there. I’ll always remember that first time.