Monday, August 18, 2014

Leaving RWA and other crap, as I try not to whine about my issues

I haven't blogged since January. It's been over eight months of silence. In that six months, I made some major changes in my writing life. I took a long over due break from writing anything. With that I decided to leave RWA.
Let me say this much, I have a lot of appreciation for RWA. They taught me how to write a novel, then sell it. When I first joined the group 19yrs ago, one had to have a agent. I do mean you had to have one, or the book didn't sell. Self-publishing or as it's called today, Independent publishing, was known as Vanity press. If an author, did a vanity press, well, that meant you weren't good enough to sell to a publishing house. And you had to pay to get the book published. It didn't come cheap. No Amazon, no B&N, no online tablets or Kindles, nothing. An author had to have a agent to find any success. Then you were lucky to see your book last longer then 40 days on the shelf. That is still true today, in brick and mortar stores. 
At RWA conferences, I got requests from agents/editors for fulls, for partials, for the usual first three chapters. Nothing ever came from any of it. Now much older, a bit wiser, I know I was just fooling myself. It wasn't my writing, or storytelling, it was the fact, I didn't write or read romance..Yes, I joined a organization, that promoted romance, a genre, I don't write, or rarely read. I do mean rarely. It has to be one hell of a good book, for me to read it from front to back. Those, at least for me are, rare. Rare as Bigfoot walking into campsite, waving a sparkler, singing the Star Spangled Banner.
At RWA conferences, I felt like a square peg, trying to fit into a round hole. All the promotional covers of bestselling authors, were romances, I had no idea were out there. I recognized some names, especially those who belonged to local RWA chapters, and of course the real biggies, like Nora Roberts. I'd sit at lunches, with authors at the table that to everyone around me was well known, accept me. I'd smile, pretend I was familiar with there works, mostly I'd just sit quietly, feeling like on some level of the universe, I should know this person. Like during a macroscopic quantum phenomenon. Yep, pretty much, it was as tiny as an atom, and if I opened my big mouth to ask, "Who are you again?" It would have behaved like one.
I usually returned home from the conferences, with renewed writing juices, but exhausted. The energy in the air was overwhelming. So many hopeful people, so much desperation. It left me 'non compos mentis', a nice Latin term, that meant, I lost my mind. Yep, pretty much. It was lost in some other city, in a crowed hotel elevator full of hopeful writers, who just knew they had the next big Fifty Shades of Gray. A book I couldn't get past the first three pages. When that subject came up, I'd crawl back into my atom infested world, and smile.
I also came home with boxes of free books. Some signed by authors, that were favorites of friends and family. Once I sorted through everything, passed out the signed ones, the rest went to the used bookstore for a credit.
Overall, I've met a lot of nice people. I also have lost more friends then I kept. I belonged to three different blogs, that were connected to RWA. All three imploded, leaving friendships frayed and lost.
I went as far as to form a local RWA chapter. It lasted eight years. Meetings and membership fell off, and it was time to close our doors. The board fell into a battle over what to do with money left in the chapter account. When money enters into friendships, everything goes south. This was no acceptation. Hurt feelings, friendships in the tank, we closed the chapter down and we all went our separate ways. That was eight months ago.
In July when my membership to RWA was due, I just filed it away in a deep file of the forgotten. It wasn't a easy decision, but once I made it, I was okay. When this years conference came along, all the pictures were posted on FB. Looking at them, I knew I had made the right choice. All the pictures of friendships and meeting the big names in publishing smiled back at me. RWA has a wonderful networking system through their online classes, conferences, chapter meetings and loops. I just never took advantage of it, because I didn't write romance, and didn't want too. I could see my old square corners popping up again in all the party descriptions and happy group pictures.
I may write another book someday, never say never. But I know my days in the world of romance writers is indeed behind me.
RWA was mostly a good experience, with some let downs and disappointments. My time there is over, now to move on to the next chapter.

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