So, I did it again. I did not blog during the summer and because this now seems to be a trend (does two summers constitute a trend? See last year’s hiatus post.) I may actually SCHEDULE the time off next year! At any rate, I am back on the blog and will be presenting all the Friday Film, Link Love, and personal anecdotes (by far the most popular according to my reader survey) I can schedule. My intent is to get some more guest posters on here too.
I did get to thinking that writing is a very solitary occupation. I often sit for hours at my computer tapping away and I can go for days without any real interaction with humans other than the ones in my head and my family (and maybe the barista at Starbucks). To combat this tendency toward isolation, I have reached out to many different writing communities over the years (!) of my writing life, mostly online, and I have found acceptance, inspiration, and (wouldn’t you know it) friends. So I thought I would share those communities and what they have brought to my writing. Perhaps they will inspire you too!
I think of RWA as the grandmother of them all. I have belonged to this association since 2005, and I have been to four of their national conferences and one regional conference. Early on I joined an online community in RWA and found encouragement, critique, and a group of like-minded writers. The changes in publishing have caused changes in the organization, but at its heart I believe RWA has the writer’s best interests firmly in place. When I went to that first national conference in Dallas, I had the thought over and over: “Wow, these are my PEEPS.” Here is a snippet from their website on their misson:
Romance Writers of America® (RWA) is a nonprofit trade association whose mission is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. RWA works to support the efforts of its members to earn a living, to make a full-time career out of writing romance—or a part-time one that generously supplements his/her main income.
And some interesting statistics about the ROMANCE genre:
- Women make up 91 percent of romance book buyers, and men make up 9 percent.
- The U.S. romance book buyer is most likely to be aged between 30 and 54 years.
- Romance book buyers are highly represented in the South.
- The greatest percentage of romance book buyers (39 percent) have an income between $50,000 and $99,900.
- According to RWA’s 2011 Romance Book Consumer survey, slightly more than half of survey respondents live with a spouse or significant other.
- Forty-four percent of romance book buyers consider themselves “frequent readers” (read quite a few romances); 31 percent are “avid readers” (almost always reading a romance novel); and 25 percent are “occasional readers” (on and off, like when on vacation).
- Readers have been reading romance for a long time: 41 percent of romance book buyers have been reading romance for 20 years or more.
This organization has been around since 2005 and welcomes more than just one genre. I am fairly new to Backspace (joined in 2012) but I attended their national conference in May this year and found it tremendously helpful for its emphasis on professional feedback instead of “pitching” and also for its multi-genre perspective. Online, the value of Backspace is in the Forum. There is such a wealth of information there, you can get lost for days if you are so inclined.
Backspace is predicated on the idea of writers helping writers, which we accomplish by means of discussion forums, an online guest speaker program in which agents, acquisitions editors, and bestselling authors regularly conduct question and answer sessions with the group, advice and how-to articles from publishing experts on this website, as well as our real-world conferences and events.
A new (brand, spankin’ new! We launched just last week!) organization for which I (moi, yours truly) is the Workshops Coordinator. I will, in fact, be teaching a workshop next week (Writing the Middle). Here’s the guiding principle of this start up association:
Defining Women’s Fiction has proven as subjective as the types of books we prefer. For that reason, our guiding statement is broad and comprehensive: An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey. Our stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds us together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.
Others There have been others, many others, in my search for community and encouragement on the writing road. A few more highlights: Kristen Lamb’s WANA (We Are Not Alone) International (I read Kristen’s Blog religiously), Dan Blank’s Build Your Author Platform course (I bonded with a fabulous group of writers during this 6-week online course that will challenge everything you think you know about yourself as a writer), the Romance Writing Certificate Course taught via McDaniel College by Jennifer Crusie (my latest challenging adventure and another really incredible group of writers!).
The point of all this is not just that I love to join writing groups and talk about books. The point is, writing IS a solitary occupation, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. And sometimes you have to remind yourself of that fact.
What are your favorite professional groups and organizations? Why did you join? How do you contribute?