I am a minority Canadian in this sense: I am one of the lucky ones not eligible for CERB – the Canada Emergency Response Benefit the federal government is doling out to working Canadians out of a job because of the pandemic.
As of this writing, more than 18 million applications for this $2,000 a month relief payment have been processed and about $CDN55-million has been paid out – a fair whack of it, I presume, going to my fellow authors and freelance writers. Those statistics aren’t available because the group I belong to – The Writers Union of Canada – has closed its offices and its staff is working from home. They’re concentrating these days on alerting members to benefits available – including a relief fund they have set up for out-of-work writers.
And so far – knock on wood – I haven’t had to apply for any benefits because, surprisingly enough, I’m making a bit too much money to qualify!
After self-publishing my first book, Some Sunny Day, with Booklocker.com, I fell into the clutches of a traditional Canadian publisher that promised the moon, but seems only interested in government publishing handouts. The company hasn’t lifted a finger to help promote my books and, in some instances, has actually been a hindrance, not a help!
However, the success of Some Sunny Day gave me the encouragement to launch my military book writing career, focusing on Canada’s military heritage.
The success of my books – thanks to massive self-promotion – in turn led to a freelance contract with a magazine publishing house that was looking for an Associate Editor for a Canadian Navy magazine. From that venture, the same magazine publisher landed a contract to produce a Canadian Army magazine, and brought me on as editor of that one as well.
So, when my accountant called and told me about CERB (he knows that, in the freelance writing game, one week it’s chicken and the next week it’s feathers), I went online to see about applying, and found that my income was above the limit. Rather than being disappointed, I felt a rush of pride that I could let others who needed it badly have the money. In fact, I even donated to my writing union’s relief fund to help other members finding it hard to cope financially in these unsettled times.
Lest it sound like bragging, I’m not rolling in dough but I’m making enough to get by when others are wondering where next month’s rent money will come from. I chose writing as a career. I once told a friend I rented out my head for a living and he replied that half a living was better than none! And, while I don’t expect it to ever make me rich, it’s been one heck of a great ride so far.
To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling’s epic poem If, writing has allowed me to keep my financial head when all about me are losing theirs. This makes me realize once again that, with all its frustrations and time wasted on projects that never saw the light of day, writing is what I hope to do until they pry my cold, dead fingers off my laptop.
Tom Douglas’s writing blog can be seen at: https://tomdouglas.typepad.com
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