Cat George finished her last shift as a journalist on Friday March 13 and tomorrow, Monday March 15, she starts work on her first novel.
LP: You’re writing a first book and at the same time a blog about that experience. Doesn’t that put a lot of pressure on you as a writer?
CG: Yes, I suppose – but I think that’s a good thing. If I’m just at home writing in a vacuum, I think there might be – for me at least – the feeling
that I can let myself off the hook, not work for a few days if I’m feeling a little blocked, just do other things. By inviting people to follow along
with me, keeping them up to date, I’ll know that someone’s keeping an eye on my progress and my work. Kind of like appointing the Internet readership as
my boss; I’m accountable to them.
LP: What can you tell us about the book, is it a novel, non – fiction, what is it about? Have you done any actual writing work on it already?
CG: It’s a novel; the idea comes from a short story I did a few years ago, during my BFA in Creative Writing at UBC. I’d been tinkering with reworking the story for a while and then suddenly realized it just couldn’t work as a short story because there was too much there. I’ve got a big outline, about15 pages, and a few pages worth of scenes written out. I’ve been jumping to get going for a bit now but decided I would hold off and commit to actually start writing on March 16, to treat it as if I was starting a new job. It’s about an older woman – she’s 75 – who’s volunteering in a museum that ends up featuring an exhibit that’s right out of her own childhood. She realizes that what the museum is presenting as history doesn’t mesh with what she remembers as happening, and from there it deals with her trying to determine how the past has shifted on her. That part of the book takes place in 1985.
The other part of the book, her memories of her teenage years, take place in the 1920s.
LP: What happens if it takes more than your self imposed deadline of a year to finish?
CG: Well, at this point I’m still optimistic, so I might have to come back to that question eight months from now with a better sense of whether that’s
how things will go. I like deadlines, I work better with them, so I knew I’d need to set one and a year was a nice, round choice. If it turns out that on
March 16, 2010, I haven’t finished a complete book, but that I’m well on the way to the finish, I’m not going to be too upset; I’ll just have to find some more
time and complete it, I guess. Financially it would be better if I was done within a year.
LP: Why a book, why now? You’re leaving a full time reporter job to do this. Isn’t that huge risk?
CG: Certainly I’ve heard that from other people; but, actually, I think that this was the time when it had to be done. I don’t have any kids, I don’t
have a mortgage, I’m pretty much finished with my student-loan debt from my school days; I’m not risking anybody else’s future or major financial havoc
by choosing to do this. I’ve been saying I’d write a book since I was 15 and the one element I’ve always felt holding me back is that I just didn’t have
the time. So I made the decision about a year ago that I would make the time, and that I would do that by setting aside money and then giving myself
a year for the project. I didn’t want to look back two decades from now and think, I could have written a novel then but I wasn’t willing to take the
risk. I want to look back two decades from now and think, good job on that first novel.
LP: Where can readers follow your writing adventures?
CG: I’m online at www.oneyearbook.wordpress.com.