I’ve been a member of Crime Writers of Canada for the past 12 years, and a member of Sisters in Crime (International and the Toronto chapter) for as long as I can remember. So I thought I had it covered, in terms of professional writers’ memberships—in spite of hints from my friend Anne Logan, a long-time member of The Writers’ Union of Canada.
The last time I saw Anne, she passed on three recent issues of Write, the Writers’ Union’s quarterly magazine on the craft and business of writing in Canada. On holiday this summer, I took a good look at these magazines. I was impressed. I realized how important The Writers’ Union of Canada is to Canadian writers.
It retains a lawyer to provide advice in members’ contract negotiations. Its grievance committee helps resolve problems with publishers. It runs a manuscript-evaluation agency. It gives advice on tax matters. It acts as a clearing house for information. It organizes around particular issues, such as book dumping, the practice of importing remaindered copies of books by Canadians from abroad, which are sold at reduced prices while the Canadian editions are still in stores at full price. TWUC committees work on copyright protection, and censorship and repression issues. They liaise with publishers and librarians. TWUC also provides paid opportunities for members to deliver presentations and hold workshops.
And as author Margaret Atwood notes in The Canadian Encyclopedia, “one of the most important achievements of the union is to have fostered a spirit of professionalism and self-respect among writers. This organization, founded by writers for writers [in 1973], has enabled them to meet and know one another and to take collective responsibility for decisions that affect the ways in which they are seen and treated.”
I realized I needed to be a member of this organization. Why had I waited so long to join?
I applied for membership last week. And I was thrilled when my application was accepted three days later.
I’m now a proud member of TWUC!