Tag Archives: Canada Periodical Fund

The silent destruction of creativity

A writer's career path before the restrictions

The new Canada Periodical Fund (replacing the Publications Assistance Program/Canada Magazine Fund) will exclude any Canadian print magazines without 5000 copies sold per year.

It means that most of the French literary magazines that published my first efforts will be excluded! Among those,  Solaris, Virages and Ciel Variable, all running at less than 5000 copies a year.

I guess I can safely add the SF magazine On Spec to this list.

Although this number is aberrant for the French publication, who get the same minimum floor as the English ones, even if their readership is way less, (the ratio anglo/franco is  3 to 1. Meaning, a fair requirement would have been of 1250 copies for the pour the French magazines. (Thanks to Jean Pettigrew, publisher of Alire, and the magazines Alibis and Solaris, for this precision).

The same path, after the restrictions

This text (in French) on the Devoir website, by Jean Larose, explains the consequences of those new restrictions. After making away with the literary broadcasts and gutting Radio-Canada, for being “elitist” (that is a sin to educate people), it’s the turn of cultural magazines to taste the conservative medicine.

By transforming culture as a big-buck entertainment industry, by uniformizing the product, the government cut the next generation af writers and artists from a well of creativity, that precious resource helping humanity to cope with the challenges coming our way. And the more for Science-fiction. SF is a patchwork of ideas, thought-provoking scenarios, unlocking the reader’s imagination.

Author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel, explained how his literary career began with a small Vancouver fanzine who published his first efforts.  This humble publication pronged him to persevere in writing. He also appreciated his first writer’s grant, on the website http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca/about/ :

I, for example, represented 1991, the year I received a Canada Council B grant that allowed me to write my first novel. I was 27 years old and the money was manna from heaven. I made those $18,000 last a year and a half (and compared to the income tax I have paid since then, an exponential return on Canadian taxpayers’ investment, I assure you).

In the same way, Solaris and Ciel Variable, then Saisons littéraires and Virages published my first efforts.

In 1987, I had a poetry and a text published in number 2 and 5 of Ciel Variable. There, I met Hélène Monette, who also had her first poems published.  Now, more thant 20 years later, Hélène’s work, provocative, full of intellectual dynamite, was recognized by a GG award, (mine by a GG nomination the same year).

I take this occasion to thank warmly Solaris. In ten years, I passed through the entire cycle: a beginner, I received rejection letters. But those letters came with explications and commentaries that helped me to improve my writing. Solaris’ editors, Yves Meynard, then Joel Champetier, did that work, mostly on a volunteer basis.

Their advice led me to have nearly 10 novels published, six to eight literary Award and countless nominations (among them, the Trillium and GG awards) . The Jules-Verne Saga were a by product of a short-story initially refused by Solaris.

I would like to tell you that since those days, I have become a successful author with a large following of millions worldwide. That would be the only form of achievement that the Conservative government would respect, of course. Nevertheless, I am proud of writing my books and giving my lectures and workshops, dispensing encouragements to the young generation. The results are less tangible but, as with plants, they grow in silence.

I owe all this to the small publishers. If their -very modest – grants are cut, they will have more difficulties to survive. The  next generation of creators will be starved, denied the sunlight necessary for their growth. The competition will be fiercer for less publishing space, where official recognition will go to more popular and more vapid entertainers…  Overall creativity will suffer and dwindle, leaving less space for thinking. (see my other post there).

I leave the conclusion to Yann Martel, a citation from the same source

I was thinking that to have a bare-bones approach to arts funding, as the present Conservative government has, to think of the arts as mere entertainment to be indulged in after the serious business of life, that—in conjunction with retooling education so that it centres on the teaching of employable skills rather than the creating of thinking citizens—is to engineer souls that are post-historical, post-literate and pre-robotic; that is, blank souls wired to be unfulfilled and susceptible to conformism at its worst—intolerance and totalitarianism—because incapable of thinking for themselves and vowed to a life of frustrated serfdom at the service of the feudal lords of profit.