Feature article: Why PWAC Matters

By Tracey Arial

Recently, I had a discussion with someone about the value of PWAC, and whether it’s worth being a member if you don’t have the time or inclination to get involved, to network or to attend events. Many of you know that I’m almost always involved, but even if I weren’t, I still think that paying dues to PWAC makes sense for any independent writer in Canada. That’s because this is the only organization that supports both sides of the non-fiction writing industry—the artsy craft of non-fiction writing and the practical nitty-gritty effort it takes to run an entrepreneurial business. By paying our dues to PWAC, we provide the support all of us need.

In the beginning, PWAC was a great way to learn how to run my business more professionally. I got answers about how the media industry works, what contracts mean and what resources are open to writers. I found out that I could deduct copyrighted works from my income tax, and my listing on http://www.writers.ca attracted a few new clients every year. I also met a whole bunch of people who were doing the same thing I was doing, but that was just a nice side benefit, not the main event.

Now, my priorities have switched. PWAC still offers lots of information I need to run my business, but for me, the best thing about the organization has become the opportunity to partner with other crazy brave souls who are struggling with the same impossible task I am. Each of those jobs on their own would be overwhelming at best, but the two together—it takes a courageous, smart, motivated person to attempt that, especially in a world that is changing so quickly. And PWAC is full of tons of them.

It’s easier to run my business when I hear stories about all these other fabulous people who are attempting to do the same thing I’m doing, but in different ways. Thanks to discussions with PWACers, I’ve got more ideas of things to try than I have time to try them. I have a strong sense of how big the job actually is and occasionally, I can even pat myself on my back for some limited success. The occasional year when I’m too busy to get involved, I just put my money into the hat to support everyone else’s efforts to make our industry stronger, and that feels good too.

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