The Professional Writers Association of Canada (formerly the Periodical Writers Association of Canada) represents professional freelance writers working in Canada's magazine, newspaper, corporate writing, government writing and book publishing industries. For more information about PWAC, including how to join, please visit To find a Canadian writer, please visit

Monday, February 27, 2006

Exec in action

February meeting

PWAC's National Executive met for two full days (Saturday, February 18th and Sunday, February 19th) in PWAC's boardroom at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. The Executive weekend also included a meeting between staff and the core Executive on Friday afternoon, and a Saturday evening social gathering with Toronto chapter President Nate Hendley.

The Exec heard reports from all regions and committees, as well as progress reports on our upcoming National Conference and AGM in Ottawa (May 11-14 -- REGISTER NOW!) and the Professional Writers Survey.

The full minutes of February's Executive meetings will be loaded in the members only section of in coming weeks. For those members interested in what happened at the meeting, but not particularly fond of reading minutes, watch out for an e-mail bulletin from PWAC President Gordon Graham, updating the entire membership on Executive business.

Appearing in the photo above are (clockwise from the top centre), Past President Liz Warwick, Membership Coordinator Clare Leporati, Ontario RD and National Conference Committee Chair Tanya Gulliver, Quebec RD Bruce Wilson, President Gordon Graham, Vice President Suzanne Boles, Treasurer Sandy Crawley, Prairies and the North RD Liz Katynski, Atlantic RD Jodi DeLong and BC RD Katherine Gibson. Not pictured, but present, is Executive Director John Degen (standing on a chair, taking the photo).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Toronto Seminar

PWAC Toronto presents:

Wed. Feb. 22, 7 PM - Writing to live: Finances for freelancers, from GST through to retirement

Whether you are 22, 32, 42, 52 or 62 -- or younger or older, or any age in between, this timely seminar is for you. Learn the do's and don't's that will save you money, save you grief with Canada Customs and Revenue, and help you plan ahead so you can retire with dignity. Panel members include:

- PWAC member and tax preparer/adviser Sunny Widerman
- Brian Bowes, a CMA and financial planner specializing in the unique finances of artists and other such independent creative
- Paul McLaughlin, veteran freelance writer, communications consultant, author and journalism instructor

Location/Time: Northern District Library, 40 Orchardview Blvd. (west off Yonge, just north of Eglinton); 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Fee: PWAC members - Free; General public - pay what you can ($10 suggested)

Afterwards: Join the panelists, PWAC members. and other writers for Beers with Peers in the Manchester Arms pub -- conveniently located downstairs from the library.

Executive Meeting Brief

PWAC's National Executive met last weekend (February 17 - 19) in Toronto for two long days and nights. As we heard reports from across the country and from our many active committees, there was a tremendous sense of pride in how well the association is operating. PWAC is making steady progress on our priorities for the year (as identified through the strategic planning roundtables at last year's National Conference), is on-track with our budget, and is benefitting from the solid performance of our full-time staff.

It was the first chance for most of the Executive to meet face to face with our new Treasurer, Sandy Crawley. We were all impressed with his remarkable mix of artistic and political achievement, and his deep knowledge of issues such as copyright, Status of the Artist, and arts group governance.

On Saturday night, we were joined by Toronto chapter president Nate Hendley, who reported that his chapter--the largest in the country--is humming along nicely, with many activities, and new members joining every week.

PWAC members can expect to hear reports from the president and their RDs within the next couple of weeks.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Google Books update

The ongoing digitization of vast numbers of books, many out of print and in the public domain, and many not, has been one of the more controversial moves by American search engine giant Google. Opinions on the copyright correctness of this practice vary wildly.

So, here's a question: As a writer, how would you feel if you discovered Google had scanned and digitized your book and offered all or part of its contents as searchable digital text online?

Keep in mind that Google appears, according to their own policy sheet on this, to be restricting access to texts it knows to be under copyright protection. See their FAQ on Google Books here. Google Book Search even has a special page of instructions for authors who want to individually participate in the program. Check that here.

I don't expect a consistent response from the writing community.

For instance, highly successful Canadian science fiction writer, Cory Doctorow, thinks Google is doing writers and publishers a gigantic favour with this project. Check out his opinion at Why Publishing Should Send Fruit-Baskets to Google. You don't have to agree with his take on "product improvement" to feel the seductive sway of an argument advocating a vast new public library space for the countless out of print books out there.

On the other hand, even when someone is going to do you a favour, don't you prefer it when they let you know ahead of time.

Just asking.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Irish Struggle

News out of Ireland is that the enlightened tax scheme that provides exemptions to cultural incomes has been changed in an effort by the government to realize greater tax payments from high earners in the arts. The Irish government has been floating the idea of an income exemption cap for a year or so now.

Understandably, the Irish Writers Union has spent much of the last year protesting potential changes, arguing that the majority of Irish writers earn well under 50,000 pounds (sound familiar?), and therefore changes to the exemption laws would really only hurt those it was intended to help the most. Furthermore, changes to the tax laws aimed at collecting from superstars would only serve to prompt Irish superstars to move from Ireland, presumably to the Cayman Islands. See the Irish Writer's Union page on the exemption here.

The actual budget of Ireland incorporating the changes to the exemption is here.

I challenge anyone out there to explain to me how this incredibly complicated scheme now works. Check out the example of Ms. X, a singer/songwriter and recording artist, under Revenue: Examples of Restriction in Reliefs section of the budget document.

PWAC has long advocated for a tax exemption scheme for writers' incomes similar to the previous Irish model. We would be perfectly willing to discuss a cap to any scheme, as long as we can understand it.