Monday, September 4

...the club that's made for you and me...

I joined RWA in the early 90s, then took a couple of years off due to (1) thinking publication was never going to happen for me and (2) for a family person who had things like shoes and school lunches to worry about, the dues were hefty. Then I joined again, because I missed the RWR and the sisterhood born from its pages. It was pre-everything-Internet, so that's where the connection was. Then Jenni Licata gathered a bunch of us into a chapter, Northeast Indiana Romance Authors, and...well, talk about blooming where you're planted. I loved it all. I learned, good Lord, how I learned. I hope I shared. I made friends I still cherish although I never see them anymore. Did I mention sisterhood?

I relished every minute of the only national conference I ever attended and
enjoyed even more the regional ones. I remember being a mostly-silent participant in a hotel lobby conversation that included Nora Roberts. I wasn't completely silent because she made sure to talk to me as well as the others, the ones she already knew, and to this day I thank her for that inclusion.

There have been kerfuffles (I've never seen that word used as often as I have lately, but it's absolutely accurate, so it stays) over the years. I've usually come down on one side or the other. Like everyone else, I won some and lost some. And right now, on the PAN loop, I'm reading about yet another kerfuffle. It seems longer and louder than the previous ones, and I'm not quoting anyone because I'm not willing to go through a gazillion posts to make sure I get it right. Let it suffice to say that it all has to do with marginalization and let it go at that.

I imagine every group of three or more has exclusion as a problem--make that group something like 12,000 (no, I didn't check that, either) and most everyone is a member of a group that feels marginalized. I've felt it several times in RWA. A lot of my unpublished time was spent flinching at some of the treatment afforded us. When I was published and in PAN, I was amazed that the unpublished thought they should have full access to everything--that secret handshake, you know. When I passed some magical golden number into the ranks of senior citizenry, I noticed that my peers and I became invisible to many people. When indie became huge, I was flinching again because I'm trad and I like it. When RWA became home to erotic and gay/lesbian romance, I was glad for the writers of it but sorry to hear more snickers about the sweet stuff I favor.

You know what? There's only so much an organization can do about that. It's like telling your kid she's got to like everyone in class or like no one in class. But RWA will, as it always has, do its level best to accommodate and represent every one of its members. So I'm here to say Thank You, and I can't say it often or loudly enough, but I'm also here because I'm saying goodbye. Or at least goodbye for now.

Although I believe controversy is necessary and healthy, I have reached the point of being exhausted by it. I have nothing new to bring to the table, so it's time to lay my wadded-up napkin beside my plate and leave my seat for someone else. The time spent on this latest disagreement is horrifying to me, and very little of it was even mine. I did, however, respond to a Facebook post in part with this:

"One of the terms mentioned for the old RWA (and not in a particularly friendly voice) was "club." At this point in both my career and my life, a club's what I want and need--drinking wine and laughing and talking about the industry. I admit this "kerfuffle" has made me both sad and uncomfortable, but it's also made me realize RWA and I need to separate. That's okay. I go with gratitude."

So when it's renewal time, I won't, but I do hope to still belong to the club. Anyone else want to join?

Have a great week.









23 comments:

  1. Wow, you are eloquent here as always and since we've talked about this numerous times privately, I'll only say, right on, sister. Sometimes we have to move on. I too have gained so much from RWA, particularly from my chaptermates--it brought me you, but I find that I fit less and less comfortably. I'm looking other places for my "club" and right now, I really, really need a club. Hugs, Liz, and thanks for always being mine.

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    1. Thanks, Nan. It makes me sad in a way--there ARE things I'll miss--but probably more that I won't.

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  2. Great post, Liz! You said it very well.

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  3. You are always welcome in my club, Liz. I agree about the conversation being uncomfortable and I am also rethinking my ties to RWA.

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    1. I like being in the club with you! You belong to a great chapter, though, that is local to you. Everything got too far away for me (in my tired-of-driving dotage ) and that was something that weighed heavily on my decision, too.

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  4. Liz - I've been following the kurfuffle too, with a lot of frustration and sadness. However I think of RWA as just a means to keep me viable in my local chapter, where I have found my "club" of friends who support and cheer and drink wine with each other. *This * is what I wish for you. *Hugs!*

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    1. Yes. I agree. I should have addressed that in the post and I should add that--as you know--the closest-to-local chapter to me is both welcoming and helpful. If there were one that truly WAS local for me, like NIRA was in its earlier days, I would have stayed in RWR for that reason. Hugs back atcha!

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  5. I appreciate and respect all of those decisions, Liz. The PC in the organization verges on overwhelming. To me, this should be more about everyone behaving as generous, considerate adults -- not about requiring restrictions to mandate behaviors we should already have as adults. (Give me a break, puhleeze!) If it weren't for the information that is shared, and absolutely for my IRWA chapter mates, I know I would be seriously considering dropping out as well. Let me know if you start a "club"-- I'd love to join!

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    1. You're already in my "club," Valley. :-) If I'd thought leaving RWA would cost me my friends, I admit I wouldn't do it. It's kind of unfortunate that being so rural limits much of my clubbing to the cyber kind.

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  6. I feel for you, Liz. I, too, owe a debt of gratitude to RWA and the romance community at large. Like you, I'm making what I hope will be a graceful exit from the romance writing community. While my reasons are different from those behind your exit from RWA, there are some close parallels, too. Regardless, you are a fabulous writer and I look forward more amazing books from you. Take care and hugs!

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  7. I too, have been pondering whether to continue with RWA. I joined originally in the early nineties in order to belong to a local chapter, but that chapter disbanded many years ago. I enjoy RWR, but I don't know if it's worth the cost of my dues. I've never gone to RWA National, and though I'd like to, I'm not sure I could justify the cost. Since I don't belong to PAN (I've never applied) I don't know about the kerfuffle. For me it's more about cost/benefit; I'm not sure I need RWA anymore.

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    1. I love PAN because...well, because so many of those people are just scary smart (not me) and I love "hearing" what they have to say. However, very little of it has to do with anything that actually affects either my career or me. I will miss the conversation (although I mostly lurk), but I don't think it's enough to keep me in the organization. Yes, what you said about cost--I just can't do it.

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  8. For the last two years, I've been so busy caring for my late husband that I missed a lot of the kerfuffle. Can't say as I missed it. And now that my head is above water again, I'm among the other commenters here, re-thinking whether the money I spend for RWA membership is really buying me anything of value. If it weren't for my local chapter, I would have left long ago. Now, I fear that I find myself in your boat and ready to jump ship.

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    1. I think a lot of us are there, Sandy, but for the greatness of chapters. One chapter--I don't remember which one--disbanded as a chapter but stayed together as a tight and professional writing group. I won't be surprised if that happens more often down the road. Thanks for coming by!

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  9. I've only been an RWA member for one year and never went to the Portland meetings as I was usually working--life of retail. So, I have no idea about the kafuffle. Although I do dream of attending a national conference one day...but right now, totally not in my budget. Good post!

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    1. Thanks, Margie. I hope you get to go--it is a great experience. RWA is a great organization.

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  10. Now you've got me curious. I never joined RWA due to budgetary concerns, even though I now have three romances published ...but I'm not a fan of kerfluffles or marginalization, or PC, so maybe it's for the best.

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    1. RWA is a great organization, and it's like anything else in that it's up to you what you get out of it. The romance genre and everything about it changes all the time and RWA is immensely helpful in the learning stages.

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    2. If only non-readers understood that it changes all the time!

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  11. Liz, you expressed this so well and beautifully. I find value in RWA and the local chapter as a source of information. I am totally weary of any confrontation, I have stopped watching the news because it just makes me so tired. I do love having the companionship of other writers. If we can find it a different way so be it.

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    1. I think having a chapter as good as IRWA is a great reason to stay, but I join you in that news-weariness, Carolyn. Not only do we have controversy, we have to triple check all information to know what's true.

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