Saskatchewan News Index
Top News Stories


Stubbornnes Put Writer On Road to Success

Saskatoon Star Phoenix
November 5, 1969. p.3

Any young person, living on the prairies in the dirty thirties who started out to be a writer, and a freelance writer at that, and made it, has got to be considered an outstanding success. Many would have said it was an utter impossibility. But one young man from Saskatchewan made it from out of the depths of the most hopeless economic conditions this country had ever seen.

His name is Max Braithwaite. He grew up in Nokomis, once sold the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix for his pocket money, taught school for his board and keep, and tried through correspondence courses to obtain a university degree, among other things.

When he failed to get the principalship of a school because he did not have a university degree, he turned his full attention to a writing career, he said in an interview today.

Max was a stubborn man, otherwise he would never have made it as a freelance writer in a day when money was scarce and publishers were not falling over each other to buy the work of unknown Saskatchewan writers.

Max said he wrote day in and day out without fail, stopping only long enough to sweep out the rejection slips he was receiving with monotonous and disconcerting regularity.

Finally in 1937 he broke through the defensive wall editors had seemingly erected against his barrage of literary material with an article called School Drought.

"The only reason they published it, I think, was because it was loaded and really ripped the hell out of the school situation on the Saskatchewan prairies.

"Many people in other parts of Canada didn't really believe that things were as bad as they were and this piece shook them up."

As well as shaking other people up, the article brought him in what, for those days, was a nice fat cheque. This coppered his determination to go right on turning out material that was saleable and to make his living in this difficult field.

Although from the time he sold the article he really never looked back, he admits it was only the fact that he is a stubborn person, not easily dissuaded from a course he has set out upon, that kept him with his nose to the writing grindstone.

But, if he hadn't had an understanding wife, who believed in him and what he was doing, he might have given up, he said. She, by the way, is a native of Hanley.

One of a family of eight, Mr. Braithwaite has one brother well known in Saskatoon business and community circles, Hubert (Hub) an official of the Saskatoon Dairy Pool. Another brother is also a writer, Dennis of The Toronto Telegram.

Following a stint in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War, Max set up in Toronto where he found greater outlet for his writing talents, and since that time, he said, he has made a comfortable living from this sometimes precarious trade. He has contributed articles to magazines and periodicals of all sorts and has written six books.

Here to promote his latest book Never Sleep Three in a Bed, he said he will address a group of students at the Saskatoon campus of the University of Saskatchewan on the art and craft of writing.

He will likely tell that to learn to write, one must write, and one must regard writing as a craft not easily acquired but rewarding when once mastered.

"I will also tell them they will have to work like hell, and never think for one moment that all one has to do to write is to sit down to a typewriter in spare moments."