This year I became a writer. What makes one a writer? I don’t know. For everybody it’s different. But for me I became a writer when I decided to stop sitting on my hands and get my work out into the world.
I had no idea how to go about that. I did a little research discovered that no, I could not just send my manuscripts off to the big six and expect a book deal. (Sigh.) I also learned that a literary agent might be helpful but soon discovered that they weren’t very easy to get. So, for a long time I did nothing,afraid to send out my work for fear of rejection. I was at a loss. I took solace in reading my favorite authors and imaging that one day my book would be on a shelf near their’s.
Shortly thereafter I noticed that one of my favorite romance writer’s had the words RITA Award winner next to her name, actually many of my favs did. What the heck was a RITA? All I could think of my elementary school bus driver, who wore ice blue eye shadow and had a nasty smoker’s cough. So I googled it (Thank God for google) and discovered that a RITA is an award given out by the Romance Writers America or the RWA. An organization for writers? Sign me up! I joined, immediately forgetting about that new pair of boots I was salivating over.
I started getting their magazine (the RWR or Romance Writers Report) every month. Which I would read cover to cover, taking in all the advice my brain could hold. One month they announced the recipients of the RITA and in the contemporary section the winner was Kristan Higgins. I had never read her work before and thought the cover was cute so I ordered it, enjoyed it and put it aside. A couple of months later in the contest section of the RWR I noticed one called The Write Stuff and after I stopped singing New Kids on the Block,(You got the right stuff, baby…) I entered. I needed feedback on my writing and knew that the winners of these contests got their work seen by an editor.I thought I would give it a shot.
Months later I got my scores back. One judge gave me really fantastic constructive criticism that got me thinking about my work in a way that I never thought possible. And when I scrolled down to see who this person was, it was none other than the fabulous, beautiful, awesome shoe wearing Kristan Higgins. I was so excited that I called my mom and told her about it.
To which she replied, “Who’s that?”
Putting aside my frustration with my mother’s lack of knowledge , I sent Kristan an email thanking her for her comments and asking her for some writerly advice. It was through her I learned of my local chapter of the RWA, an organization I never thought of joining. It was there I met fellow newbie and Scribe, J Monkeys, the mastermind of this excellent blog.
I was nervous at my first meeting. But when I walked through those doors I felt a type kindness and support that I didn’t know was possible. I was always that kid who didn’t fit into one group. I never had a place where I felt I truly belonged but that all changed when I found them. For once I was in place where people wanted me to succeed and I wanted the same thing for them.
This is my love letter to them so to speak. So thank you to the President who loses so much of her writing time to make out chapter thriving. And thank to the Vice President who brings us the programs that make us better writers. And thank you to the author that introduced me to this group. And thank you to all the members who went out of their way to make me feel like I belonged.
So why join a writer’s organization? Knowledge. Support. Friendship. Who couldn’t use a little of that?
Your turn! Are you a apart of your local writer’s group? If not, what’s up with that? Share your thoughts, stories and comments. We love hearing from you.