Friday, March 4, 2011


Learning to say 'no'!

I've always been a volunteerer. Not that it's a word. It's more like an inner drive to get involved and hopefully, be doing something that will be of some help in the community.

I've volunteered with PTA's, Community Service Boards, Health Boards, Crime Prevention Boards, libraries, community newspapers, choirs, writing associations, Ottawa Police Service, and even, children's soccer leagues. In fact, I being a volunteer co-ordinator was part of my job description -- a real paying job -- at one point in my work life.

And then there came a time I had to learn to say 'no'. It was the hardest word to learn but one that needed to be said from time to time. If only to save my sanity. It's all too easy to get spread too thinly and eventually feel you're not doing a good enough job in any area. So, the paring back began and while I'd been hoping to expand again now that I'm not working out of the house, I'm still having to say 'no'. This writing gig is really a full-time commitment, isn't it?

But part of being a mystery writer is being involved in promoting self and genre. And that's where involvement in the writing community comes in. It's all too easy to sit back and say, "I don't have time, I have a deadline." or, "I've already done my bit.", when the answer should be, "I'll do what I'm able to do."

There's been much discussion lately about Crime Writers of Canada, the national association that's working hard for mystery and crime writers, and oh so necessary in this time of publishing industry upheaval. Crime and mystery authors seldom get the respect, nor the corresponding piece of the promotional pie. While reviewers such as Margaret Cannon, Jim Napier, and Don Graves are gamely getting the word about just how good Canadian mystery writing can be, out to the's still the main task for the writers themselves, once the book's been written.

Crime Writers of Canada needs members. There are still an awful lot of published authors who haven't yet signed on the dotted line with CWC. Maybe you think there's nothing they can do for you. Maybe you're this point but by joining, you can add your issues to the agenda and, you'll add your voice to those already there, and there's power in numbers. And, in promoting the visibility of mystery and crime writers in Canada, there's bound to be some increase in your readership, too. Unless, you feel you've got the numbers already.

For those who are already members, you need to step up and volunteer! There's always something to do -- Board elections are coming up, committees need help, events are being planned. Do as much or as little as you feel you can. But, please do something.
I'm going to switch off my 'no' button for CWC. It's here is black and white. No backing out. But it's a cause I feel to be a worthy one.

There's a role for readers, too. Read Canadian mysteries! There are some terrific writers across this country, who combine spinning a good tale with capturing our country and all it's complexities and values. And then, tell others about these wonderful reads. Spread the Canadian mystery writing word.

So, what will you say 'yes' to, today?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase


  1. Thanks, Linda. Great post. You sure have stepped up over the years. Today, I am saying yes to no.

  2. I am always suggesting Canadian authors to friends & acquaintances who read crime fiction. Am thrilled when they report back that they are now tracking down the author's entire back list. Even more wonderful is having people come up to me and saying, "I understand you know 'Ms.Z/Mr.Y'. I love their work! Do you think they'd come and speak to my book club?"

  3. Very well expressed. I used to volunteer for many organizations but haven't done anything recently mostly because I never know where I'm going to be. But you've inspired me to explore the possibilities at CWC. Thanks

  4. MJ -- finally! I didn't think that word was in your vocabulary. After all the hard work you've put into CWC, it's really time to take a break.

    Susan -- wonderful! I know you're a terrific supporter of Canadian authors and deserve a major thanks.

    Joan -- I know you've volunteered for CWC in the past, too. As well as many other organizations. And people who have volunteered are always the ones who step up again. Hopefully, others will be inspired, too.