Writing Success Doesn’t Happen in the Vacuum of Space

 I joined RWA and the CT Chapter in 2007 when I realized I needed to reach out to people who knew how to do this writing thing. I was immediately aided by published authors, budding newbies like myself, and everyone in between. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in an organization where I’ve been so readily accepted and supported, and for that I am forever grateful.

Then I joined YARWA (Young Adult chapter of RWA) last year,  and I felt like I had found my people. I couldn’t believe there were others who sat around thinking like a teenager and re-writing history.

 Being a part of a writing community has afforded me the ability to share my work with critique partners and open forums where I’ve had tremendous help in learning every aspect of the craft. Although I’ve gone through four critique groups and probably six or eight critique partners, I’ve left each relationship on good terms and it is accepted that as our writing style changes and grows, our need for different perspectives comes naturally. I value each person I’ve worked with and hopefully they feel the same about me.

Crit partners, Susannah, Casey and Katy Lee

Another highlight of being involved in RWA is that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend conferences and workshops with some of the most talented writers and best teachers around. The CT Chapter has outdone themselves by bringing in the likes of Michael Hague, Margie Lawson, and our upcoming guest, Laurie Schnebly Campbell. At each of the four Fiction Fests and National Conferences I’ve attended, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, (including my favorite author, Diana Gabaldon). I even got to fondle, covet, and admire Kristan Higgins’ RITA statue and once shared a room with Jessica Andersen. I considered myself lucky on all counts. The best part of all of it, has been the friends I’ve made along the way. 

Also, thanks to the RWA and its tireless volunteer members, I’ve had the privilege of entering numerous writing contests. The feedback and acknowledgement I’ve received has been inspiring, interesting, and enormously helpful. Contests serve many purposes, not the least of which is that it gets you in front of agents and editors and you can use feedback to judge your own readiness for publication. Contest finals and wins also look great on your writer’s resume. What I found over time and with persistence was that, as my writing evolved, my contest scores and placement improved. It was tangible evidence that I was gaining ground. The same can be said for the dreaded query process. As painful as it was, after thirty or forty rejections, you start noticing that comments get more personal, useful and encouraging. That’s when you know that publication is around the corner. As an indie-published author, I am ineligable for entering the RITA Awards, but I can still enter the Golden Heart. Odd but true, and so I’ve entered Heaven Is For Heroes. Wish me luck!

With the shifting sands of the publishing industry, my choice to independently publish my YA novels may seem either foolish or brave, depending on your perspective. Only time will tell if I am successful without the assistance of an agent and a publisher. But I can say without a doubt that I couldn’t do it without the assistance of the RWA, my CT Chapter, and my YARWA and WANA (We Are Not Alone) peeps. Without your support, none of it would be possible. Thanks everyone! I’m proud to be among you. 

If you could meet your favorite author and ask them one question, who would it be and what would you ask?


21 thoughts on “Writing Success Doesn’t Happen in the Vacuum of Space”

  1. I’ll be honest I wrote my first ms in the vacuum. I belonged to no writer’s organization, crit group – didn’t even know they existed. I wanted nothing to do with FB and Twitter. My friend made me join later on and now I question if she’s a true friend for doing that. 🙂 But the point is, I may have finished that book, but it wasn’t until I found RWA that I considered myself a writer.

    Join me Sunday for the rest of my story….

  2. I hear you about the FB and Twitter vortex phenomenon. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of those mediums when you consider the time investment required to create and maintain a presence.

    It’s clear to me, however, that the best move I ever made as a writer was to join RWA.

  3. Katy, I hear you about the vacuum. I think most of us started that way. Let’s face it, finding the courage to write the book, then finish it, is a battle on it’s own. I imagine if we all knew how much work there was after the book was done, we all might have run screaming from the room. Ignorance is bliss, right?

    PJ – I’m so greatful to you for convincing Suze and I to attend an RWA chapter meeting. Best, BEST decision I ever made! If there was a reward for recruiting new members, you should get it!

    1. My pleasure Casey. You, Katy, Suze and J have been wonderful additions to our chapter. It was a stroke of luck that I ended up at that writer’s group at the Enfield Public Library–serendipity, I think!

  4. Writing is both solitary and “takes a village.” If for no other reason, writer’s groups are invaluable for the support they offer, especially when the “civilians” in a writer’s life don’t understand. Both CTRWA and CORWA have filled those needs, especially with easy access to fellow writers near where I live. Also, because I write crime fiction, I find great knowledge and camaraderie with Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Those groups give me access to law enforcement authorities, too, as well as information about the finer points of my genre.

    1. YES! Rhonda. There seems to be a writer’s group for every genre under the sun, which is awesome for connecting with the information and exact support we need. It’s also really nice when our own knowlege is appreciated and valued. It’s great to be able to contribute as well as recieve. We love your horsey knowlege and if I ever write a story involving a horse, I’m comin’ to you!

      1. Everyday teens trail ride, do reining, give little brothers and sisters their first pony rides, work carnival pony rides, jump, do endurance riding, use horses for 4H projects, shovel manure for saddle time, barrel race and pole bend and take part in hiker rescue on remote trails. Not rushing you :), but offering you ideas. For whenever you’re ready. 🙂

      2. Holy Toledo, Rhonda! The ideas are flying now. Definitely a future YA romance brewing on a horse farm.

  5. Best wishes for Heaven Is for Heroes and the Golden Heart! I don’t know if I have a single favorite author now. If I can have a time machine, I’d chat with Agatha Christie and ask how she outlined her plots.

    1. Thanks Julie.

      Agatha Christie would be a hoot for sure. She had a brilliant mind for plotting. It would be interesting to go back and read some interviews with her. I bet somewhere out there is an answer to your question.

  6. Without doubt, J.K. Rowling. Not only is she a genius, she’s my idol! I would ask her how she fought the doubt demons prior to the publication of her first book.

    1. I agree. Brilliant! I bet she would say, “Just like the rest of you…one battle at a time.” I imagine a wizards wand and a bit of spell casting would be helpful too.

  7. Thanks to joining a writing group (check out my story on Saturday) and being part of this blog, I got to ask my favorite author all kinds of questions. See our two part interview with Lynn Kurland! It was a wonderful experience and one of my favorites so far!

    1. You are so right J! Proves the old maxim – “nothing ventured nothing gained”. I think being in a group really empowers you to realize that we are not alone and hearing “no” (often many times) isn’t going to actually kill you.

  8. So many things I could comment about. Hmm, writers group are a must if we are not planning to become stagnant. We need association with like-minded others. I tell anyone who asks that I learned more in 6 months as an RWA member than I had in the previous 10 years on my own.
    As far as meeting another writer. I’d like to sit down with Mary Manners. I don’t know how she cranks out her novellas as fast as she does, with all the other hats she wears.
    Good post.

  9. Thanks, and Welcome Loree. I’m not familiar with Ms. Manner’s work (no pun intended). Like most writer’s, I’m sure multi tasking is a way of life for her. I’ll be blogging about that exact topic on my home page Blog, Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life, this Friday.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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