Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Group or Not to Group

This past week, a member of our local chapter of RWA decided not to join the national organization this year which of course means she can't belong to our local group, CPRW. It was kind of sad but also completely understandable. Marie contributed a lot to our group and was supportive to all of us. But there were economic factors to be considered.
Belonging to RWA isn't cheap. Marie has her first YA novel coming out in the near future so she wasn't really a romance writer. At some point she weighed her options and decided she could better spend that big chunk of dues money elsewhere. How many more of us will be making such tough decisions in the future?
I admit to considering it. Though I have three romance novels published with New Concepts Publishing, one contracted with them and another contracted with TWRP, I'm concentrating on my fantasy writing. Would I miss whatever I get from RWA if I left? I'm not sure but I don't think I would. Would I miss what I get from CPRW? Absolutely. Unconditional support, a fount of wisdom from fellow writers, and the companionship of those who know what being a writer is.
I also belong to Pennwriters and have found support there not only in the yearly conferences but in other functions as well as their member loop. In Pennwriters I also have a chance to spend time with other fantasy authors. Recently I joined with some other local Pennwriters in forming a group blog, The Susquehanna Writers, and planning some group book signings. And Pennwriters is cheap compared to RWA.
So yes, I've been tempted to leave RWA like my friend Marie but I can't give up CPRW. Yet. I could change my mind in the future but for now I'll stay. The same issues causing controversy with Romance Writers of America plagues many writers groups. What to do with digital publishing? Where is the line between published and not? Is the group meeting the needs of all their members?
I write because I enjoy it and of course I hope to be wildly successful someday. My day job has lots of issues, stresses, politics and frustrations. I don't need that same kind of thing in my writing career. I've avoided posting about the discussions on RWA and really have followed it as little as possible. I don't have the time or the interest. I never get involved in the contentious discussions that come up on Pennwriters every few months about epublishing versus traditional, agent versus unagented and all the things that go around over and over again. I don't even read the posts when the arguments start.
I want to be a writer. I want to smooze with other writers. I want to help my colleagues if I can and know I can go to them for help. Mostly I just want to write the best book I can write.


  1. Great post, Susan, and some very good points! I, personally, love being a part of RWA, both on the national level and the local chapter level. I've made a lot of friends and contacts, and at Nationals last week, I got to meet and hobnob with some of my favorite authors. I know politics can be frustrating, and being contracted with a small press, I understand the frustration with RWA not recognizing (yet) small presses and epubs. But I'm not one to think that leaving an organization because I'm disgruntled is the answer. Ghandi said "Be the change you want to see in the world." Well, my world involves RWA, so if that means getting involved and fighting for change, well, that's something I'm willing to do in the future. I am, and always will remain, a proud member of RWA :)

  2. A very touchy subject Susan and one that has been hashed and rehashed many times in my own groups, both RWA and private critiques. Online, in person, on the phone. It seems the one thing RWA can't get away from is controversy. If you go in knowing that and doing what you suggest (not following the flaming) then it can be a boon. I love the opportunity to learn from other authors at my chap meetings, I enjoy the magazine (though I would NEVER pay that much for one subscription) and I really, really love the national conference. Being at that conference makes me want to write always. I'm in the DFW area and we have many non-RWA groups but they just aren't the same. They're very good and just as energetic, but ... they're not a part of RWA and its energies. I've been unemployed for 9 months and the one thing I did was renew my memberships with my local chapters and national. I just couldn't bear to lose that lifeline, too.
    Thanks for such a thought-provoking topic.

  3. Thanks for the wonderful comments. I would love to go to a national RWA conference. My hope is to go 2 years from now when it's in NY. I don't expect a group as large and diverse as RWA can please everyone. I don't feel particularly disgruntled with RWA, I do really hate infighting. But then again, who said a little revolution now and then is good thing?

  4. I think that was Thomas Jefferson, Sue. And I do believe it.

    But I'm also of the school of -This too shall pass. I chimed in on the RWA small press/digital publishing on my blog back in June. And Natalie reported back from the AGM this week over at the Gabwagon. Very interesting stuff.

    It's difficult to take an organization as large as RWA and attempt to sit it on the cutting edge. It's like an elephant surfing 50 foot swells. Not impossible, but . . .

  5. Live and let live- great philosophy! I like it. It seems that a lot of local chapters are great. I've never heard one person complain about their local chapter and that's an awesome thing!

  6. Sue, we'd hang on to you out here if you ever decided to leave CPRW. But I really, really hope it never comes to that. :)

    Ava, EXCELLENT analogy! LOL

  7. Just follow your heart, Susan and be happy.