Tuesday, September 23, 2008

History of the Writing Trade: Meet Bernie Howgate

So a writer is at his desk where he ought to be in mid-morning, and the doorbell rings....

I've had politicians and Watchtower sellers and student lightbulb vendors and Edward Jones reps and walkathon sponsorees and guys eager to clean my eaves or fix my porch. But I've never had a writer selling his wares door-to-door before. He's got me from hello, as they say.

This is Bernie Howgate, "world traveller, arctic explorer, and best selling author," at the door, explaining that down home in Newfoundland, writers simply go door to door offering their latest works for sale. The tradition has been in decline since the Canada Council started giving writers money, he claims, and now snotty literary types simply wait for their cheque to come. But he is keeping the custom alive. Since he is visiting in Toronto, he has decided to bring it to us.

We compared notes on the writing trade, and I became the owner of a personally inscribed copy of Around the Rock in a Bad Mood, a memoir of Bernie's circumnavigation of Newfoundland in a sea kayak some years ago. Then he was off to the next house with my twenty dollar bill in his pocket. While I'm on the porch, I confirm that there's no royalty cheque in the mailbox. Just on one house, Bernie has earned more than me today. Go for it, is how he has incribed my book. Go for it, Bernie.

Bernie's website is here, but the link seems disfunctional at the moment.
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