Nobody said this was going to be easy

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Nobody said this was going to be easy.

And we knew that, right?

Today it was announced that the Conservative Government of Canada cut funding to the Literary Press Group, thus severing one of the vital arms that get the books of independent Canadian publishers to retailers and readers.

It’s depressing, yes. It would be nice to live in a country whose federal government understood and supported the literary arts, the way they do in much of the grown-up, civilized world. But we’re not that lucky.

So what does that mean for us writers?

It means that we keep doing what we’re doing. We behave like the black knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. We ignore it. We carry on regardless. The fact is, artists all over the world have to deal with much worse than this. They have to deal with threats, with imprisonment, with fatwas. They go to jail for making art. They risk their lives. We have to deal with a pitiful lack of government funding. This is a flesh wound.

I think sometimes we’re distracted by our proximity to the United States. On some level — not our virtuous conscious but maybe our needy subconscious — we think that art is supposed to pay off for us somehow. I think we can admit that. We think we’re supposed to get something in return for all the sacrifice and suffering. The houses and cars we forego. The backyard pools. The decent wines. Right? We passed up that steady paycheque in order to make art, and the least the government can do is understand and give an indirect helping hand!

When they don’t, as this government will not, it’s infuriating, it’s demoralizing. But what I’m here to say is that it shouldn’t stop us from writing. It shouldn’t get in our way as artists.

We still have to make the art. We still have to write the books. And frankly that’s hard enough. I for one cannot sit here working on the voice of a character or the shape of a sentence if I’m all het up about the raspberry the Harper Government has just blown at my industry. I have to concentrate on the book. What happens after that is a whole other problem, and other people have to get involved. Other people have to join in that fight. But as artists, the first and most important job is to push that stuff out of our minds and just get the work made.

On our bloody stumps if we have to.