Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good-bye Ms Callwood

Today, June Callwood died. She was 82. This woman was an amazing pioneer in Canada. She was the original Writing Mother. She and her husband were both writers and they worked from home. They had four children together. The Globe and Mail wrote a marvelous recount of her life. I offer some exceprts.

Motherhood, which Ms. Callwood embraced fulsomely, also turned her into a freelance writer as a way of earning money while staying home with her children.
She wrote her first magazine article (for Liberty Magazine, earning $50) about Violet Milstead, the instructor who was teaching her how to fly a single engine Aeronica Superchief.

She wrote her way through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70, 80s and 90s. Yes, over six decades of writing. She wrote past the millenium and continued to be an activist in many areas. Not all I personally agreed with, but what does that matter, really. She had a style about her.

When she went to the aid of a demonstrator who was under arrest, she was herself
arrested, hauled off to the notorious Don Jail and charged with obstructing the police. Pierre Berton (obituary Dec. 1, 2004) testified on her behalf at her trial and she was acquitted, but the experience turned her into a social activist, albeit one who was always dressed to the nines complete with earrings, high-heeled shoes and matching handbag.

There is so much to be said about her, so much that I wish I'd known before her passing. You can read a transcript here of her appearance before the Senate in 2004.

We freelancers have been having a very difficult time, because the newspapers and magazines on which we depend — because you cannot make money on books, unless you are privileged to be Margaret Atwood — are depending more on their staff. It is cheaper to hire a freelancer than it is to hire staff, because there are no benefits and, for all the obvious reasons, it is the easiest job to cut.

She was such a beacon.
If you see an injustice being committed, you aren't an observer, you are a
participant.” That didn't mean you had to intervene, she explained, but you
couldn't pretend that you weren't a part of what was happening in front of you.

Her death is a loss. I think the writing community still has much to learn from her.

1 comment:

laura said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman. What a role model for us all!