Being a fiction writer can be a lonely job. We live in our heads a lot of the time, talking to people who don’t exist about issues that never really happened. Sure we have our spouses, our kids, our family and regular friends, but they don’t really get it, do they? They don’t understand how long it takes to make it in this business, or why we’d purposely send out ten more queries after we’ve just cried for two days over a rejection.
That’s one of the many benefits of organizations such as RWA – they bring together a group of people who get it. I found my local chapter through RWA, and in turn met all of my fellow bad girlz. We laugh, we cry, we critique, we praise, we get it. Along the way, this organization has also taught me a great deal about my craft and what I write, which led me to join the wonderful Women’s Fiction Chapter. I found a place I belonged and people I could learn from, which is why I am disappointed in the recent decisions that my organization has made in regards to women’s fiction.
When RWA announced at this year’s national conference that they would be discontinuing the Romantic Elements category, I had a brief panic attack. What did this mean for me and my romantic women’s fiction? Was I no longer welcome? Where would I go if I wasn’t?
After a migraine and two aspirin, I took a deep breath and tried to be objective about it. I read all the correspondence on the loop of my Women’s Fiction Chapter to make sure I was fully informed of their communications with the RWA board. I tried to understand the reasoning and, even though I didn’t agree with it, I came to respect their decision. Since everyone was assured the chapters wouldn’t be affected, I chose to renew my membership in October. What was I really out of? I still had the support I needed on this lonely road to publication.
Or did I?
RWA is now requiring all the chapters to change their bylaws to specify their members write romance. And as of this week, the announcement was made that the Women’s Fiction Chapter is disbanding. I feel hurt by this. I feel lied to. This should’ve been announced back in July when the category was eliminated and saved those members such as me from renewing my membership. Quick like a band-aid. I am very disappointed in how this was handled by RWA. I never expected that from the organization that was supposed to help me through all the massive disappointment this business sometimes throw at me.
That said – I am also hopeful.
There are currently discussions taking place about creating a separate women’s fiction organization. This idea is highly supported amongst the chapter members, as well as some of those outside of the chapter. I am very excited to see how this develops, and you can bet your pants that I’ll be joining with them next year. I believe in the end this will be a good thing and become a better home for me and my romantic women’s fiction.
Please don’t misunderstand. I still believe RWA serves a good purpose for those who fall inside its rules. I’ve learned a lot and appreciate what I’ve gained as a member up until this year. Most of all, I’m grateful that it led me to six of the most talented women I know. So if you write primarily romance, by all means I encourage you to join and maintain your membership. You won’t regret it!
As for me? I’m not going to change who I am so that I can fit inside that box. I write romantic women’s fiction and I’m tired of skirting around it. It’s time to move on to a place where I’m accepted.