August 23, 2016

Checks and cheques

Payment for “Tickles the Clown” was $250.00. That works out to about seven cents a word, or $8.33 an hour, based on thirty hours of work. Those figures are surprisingly respectable. I was hoping my money made/time spent ratio was going to be dramatically more pathetic, but it looks like I’m almost making minimum wage with my writing. There is a strange relationship with pay for work at literary journals where money is critical, and money is also beside the point. Most journals recognize that writers should get something for their work, but it’s never an easy thing for them to provide. Some journals eventually fail due to lack of funding. Most recently, Descant magazine ended its 45-year run, ceasing publication with its December 2014 issue “due to ongoing financial hardship”. This article from the Star highlights some of the problems these journals face. And through it all, compensating the writer seems to remain a top priority for most journals. Without brute market forces in play, how are we supposed to know the value of writing? I think the American model gives some indication. Payment from many of these is insultingly low. It’s very rare that I publish something without payment, but […]
August 9, 2016

Elsie K. Neufeld and Half in the Sun: Anthology of Mennonite Writing (Ronsdale Press, 2006)

The daughter of Russian Mennonite immigrants, Elsie K. Neufeld has written two non-fiction books: Dancing in the Dark: A Sister Grieves (Herald Press, 1990) and The Past Inside the Present (1996). She has taught life-writing classes in various venues with the guiding principle that “the ordinary is the extraordinary.” As editor, she edited several seniors’ anthologies; as personal historian, she has “midwifed” 20-some memoir projects; as eulogist, she has written nearly 20 eulogies – for family and strangers. Her essays and poems have appeared in many Mennonite publications as well as in Breaking the Surface (Sono Nis Press, 2000), Inside Poetry (Harcourt Canada, 2002), and a chapbook Grief Blading Up (2009). A resident of Vancouver, Elsie is on the board of Creative Non-Fiction Collective ( OM:  I see poetry as the most powerful, compressed, demanding form of expression in our language. In what other form does the author agonize over a single line, word, or punctuation mark? EN:  I think all writers, of all forms of writing, agonize over a single line, word, or punctuation mark. Hemingway, for example, said – and I’m paraphrasing here – find a single word that doesn’t belong. Vancouver writer and SFU professor Colin Browne, my […]