I’ve attended many national conferences of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and always enjoy them. This post focuses on the 2011 conference in Montreal, Quebec. It was terrific! I’d like to thank the Montreal (Quebec) chapter of volunteers for putting together an amazing program that satisfied both my need for professional development and social fun. Being a Gemini, both are equally important to me.
The “Writing is a Business” session was well worth the $100 additional cost we had to pay 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 gave us some tremendous insights on how to negotiate, when to back away/off and understanding copyright law.
I also found the editors panel to be quite insightful and expect to land an assignment with one of the editors soon. I could certainly empathize with travel writer, Alexandra Forbes, who shared stories on the life of a food and travel writer. There were many other fascinating speakers who enlightened us on a variety of topics.
There was intense debate during our business meetings as we discussed (and approved) the new “Bylaw” document that replaces our previous constitution. And the motion to hold our national conference and AGM in conjunction with MagNet for three years in Toronto drew intense and emotional debate. PWAC has always taken pride in holding its national conference in different cities across Canada. That has been a big drawing factor in attracting members to attend. You get to see a different part of the country and members who may not otherwise attend, get to participate.
That was certainly a positive aspect of the Montreal conference. Montreal is a terrific city, and we enjoyed the local culture and sights as much as we did seeing one another. Thanks to chapter president, Ian Howarth, for taking a group of us on a lovely walking tour through Old Montreal.
We’re hoping that not too much of that passion for PWAC will be lost over the next three years while we meet in the Publishing Capital of Canada. Indeed, there are positive aspects to meeting in conjunction with MagNet and I admit to enjoying regular visits to Toronto. Afterall, that city is home to SOMA, one of my favourite chocolate makers.
As is customary by me and several other PWAC members, here are my “Top 10 Moments” from this year’s conference:
1) Being elected as PWAC’s national vice president. Thanks to everyone who supported me, and to Nate Hendley for being a most worthy running mate. It was actually exciting to have an election and vibrant campaign as opposed to just being acclaimed in the position.
2) Sitting at the post-AGM meeting of the new board and realizing we have an AWESOME team. It’s really going to be a great year. Trust me.
3) Rooming with my dear friend, Virginia Heffernan of Toronto. I’ve made many amazing friends thru rooming at AGM’s and serving on PWAC boards. Next time you have the opportunity, take a chance and room with someone you may not know well. You never know what kind of life-alterting friendship may result because of it. I’ve made many over the 14 years I’ve been a member of this association.
4) Meeting my PWAC “first-timer” buddy for this year, Kim Van Haren, of Vancouver. Kim and I immediately bonded and enjoyed many special moments throughout the conference. (I hope she feels the same way.)
5) Singing “Night Moves” under the leadership of Tracey Arial’s husband, Pedro’s, leadership. Everyone who knows me knows that I love the musical sessions at the post-meeting sing-alongs. I’m more of a back-up singer, not a lead. Not knowing the exact words to “Night Moves” by Bob Seeger, but loving that song, Pedro was kind enough to get the lyrics sent to his smartphone & lead the singalong so that I could be satisfied. What an amazing guy. Thanks to Tracey for sharing him with us.
6) Doing a double pinky-shake with former member and past National President, Julie(a) Gedeon (Matusky) of Montreal, who assured me she was rejoining our association after a brief (but all-too-long) absence.
7) Watching Kate Merlin belly dance at the Friday night singalong. I’m always amazed at the hidden talent of our members. Who knew that a rather straight looking Maritimer would put on bangles and shake it till the cows come home?
Kate Merlin of New Brunswick can really shake her bootie!
8) Learning that Suzanne Boles’s husband, Bob, has size 13 feet. Why is that significant? Because it’s great when members bring their spouses (or significant others) to our events. Bob is kind of a shy guy (who I’d met before) but it was wonderful reconnecting with him, and I know it was important to Suzanne for him to bond with her PWAC friends. We’re all in this together!
9) Meeting Michelle Greysen, the incoming “Prairies & the North Regional Director” for the first time and realizing she is indeed, one of the “tribe.” As mentioned in item 2, it’s going to be a GREAT year and I am confident that Michelle will be a true asset to our team.
10) Giving my election speech on the Sunday and seeing tears in the eyes of my nominator, Cynthia Dusseault, and realizing PWAC is so much more than a “professional” association. We are a family, and it is only after you realize that, that you will fully appreciate the immensity and value of this truly amazing organization.
That wraps it up in a nutshell. You only get out as much as put into any organization. If you want to benefit from membership, volunteer to take on a role. Any role. Whether it’s at your chapter level, on a national committee, the board, or a task force, you will magnify the benefits of your membership tenfold. And I, and many others, will thank you.
And if you are a freelance writer, attending writers conferences is really important to your spirit and the development of your writing career. If you get the chance to attend a conference in your writing community, take it! You won’t be sorry.