A message from PWAC Quebec Chapter President Ian Howarth:
PWAC Quebec recently hosted the National Conference and AGM at Concordia University. We can say it was an unqualified success with over 100 attending including speakers, delegates, PWAC members and outside guests. The National Conference featured two days of professional development (Friday’s session, Writing is a Business, was an all-day affair dealing with writing contracts and negotiations) and on Saturday a full line-up of eight PD workshops on a range of subjects close to the heart of freelance writers.
This conference that helped PWAC celebrate its 35th year, was somewhat historic as members decided at the Sunday AGM to join MagNet in Toronto for the next three years. PWAC Quebec, along with Executive Director Sandy Crawley, Associate Director Lauren Stewart, the PWAC Board of Directors and a host of our membership and volunteers helped steer the ship in the right direction.
Our President, Tanya Gulliver, stepped down after an unprecedented three year term, and our own Craig Silverman was acclaimed as the new PWAC President. Doreen Pendgracs was elected Vice President. No doubt we will be hearing more from them soon.
We have put together an array of photographs and a summary of some social events (Kathe Lieber as host) and Bruce Wilson’s bike trip as well as some other PWAC members’ impressions of the conference. A special thanks to Jocelyne Kilpatrick, Kathe Lieber, Doreen Pendgracs, Sarah Sookman, and Bruce Wilson for contributing to this recap!
Enjoy. This is for you who were there as well as those who weren’t.
PWAC Quebec Chapter President
Doreen Pendgracs of PWAC Manitoba writes in her blog that Friday’s “Writing is a Business” session “was well worth the $100 additional cost…to hear Claude Brunet explain the components of a freelance/publishing contract and Warren Sheffer talk about small claims court. Both men are lawyers and [offered] tremendous insights on how to negotiate, when to back away/off and understanding copyright law.”
Later that afternoon delegates got down to the serious business of reviewing the proposed changes to PWAC’s constitution. Some tempers had to be held in check, but everyone felt much better at the Welcome Reception, and then downright fabulous during dinner (when the wine flowed alongside the pasta).
The day got off to a smooth start, thanks to the super-organized Lauren Stewart, who spent a good part of the time staffing the registration desk while the rest of us got our hands dirty at the PD sessions.
Speaking of getting dirty, Jean-Benoit Nadeau, co-author of 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, passed on some fresh advice during his Write to Live session on the art of negotiation: “You have to swallow shit,” Nadeau counselled, “If it’s sweet it’s not good.”
Shit and all, there are some sweeter fields opening up for professional writers. Besides chasing the big conglomerates for contracts, have you ever thought about writing for the Canadian Grocer? Your local grocer not only has a magazine, they may be desperate for good writers, informs Suzanne Boles, as she led the session on writing for trade magazines. Also, consider medical writing. As Giancarlo La Giorgia, editor at STA HealthCare Communications, proves—you don’t even need a science degree.
And when you have that fabulous idea for a book that only you can write, it’s time to put a plan behind the words; Julie Barlow, co-author of of 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, explained the essential elements of the book proposal, and how a good one is an indispensable tool that will help you snag not only an agent, but a publishing contract.
No freelance writing conference would be complete without some editors in attendance, and 3 of Montreal’s most important editorial chiefs weighed in during panel discussion about the industry.
Rounding out the PD sessions was Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur, a panel discussion with Hugh McGuire, Craig Silverman and Ben Yoskovitz, that gave entrepreneurial-minded freelancers advice on how they can take their business and brands to new heights. Alexandra Forbes, Food Editor at GQ Brazil served the ups and downs of Travel and Food Writing. And Concordia University journalism instructor Elias Makos guided workshop participants through the maze of the technological social media tools at their disposal in the session Computer-assisted Reporting.
After an intense day of scribbling notes, it was time for a bit of relaxation, so the PWAC delegation strolled a few blocks west to the Pepsi Forum (referred to us locals as simply, the Forum) for PWAC Gala Awards and Dinner. The keynote speaker was Carole Beaulieu, editor of L’actualité magazine (some call it the MacLean’s of Quebec). Beaulieu is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program and was a journalist for L’actualité from 1989-1998 before becoming editor. She addressed the challenges of journalism in a digital world, but maintains hope that the specialized, long-form “bookazines” that are starting to appear in Europe will make their way to this side of the Atlantic.