In the last few weeks, I’ve been dipping my toes in other writer’s groups. Well, internet groups actually, of writers. Loosely gathered. Many topics of discussion, many levels of success, novel, magazine, fan fic, from beginners to old timers, from young to not-so-young. I won’t name the groups, because it really doesn’t matter. I thought it would be interesting, so I started listening in on the conversations.
I discovered a cold-eyed and cynical world out there. One where other writers sneer at romance writers (“bodice ripper” was used, though that term is quite out of date), even though they don’t stoop so low as to read the genre. (Funnily enough, those most derogatory about romance had read – maybe– one romance novel.)
I also found, overwhelmingly, lots of writers who are seeking shortcuts to fame and writing fortune (though I have to believe these are the newer writers). Plus, there are those who want to prove themselves smarter than the folks asking the questions. “Agents? Don’t need ’em” (or, “GOD I wish I didn’t have one, mine sucks”). “Publishers? NY is dead.” The atmosphere is dark, and politeness seems to be thin on the ground if a disagreement arises.
The quality of advice varies wildly on these loops. I have stuck my neck out a couple of times, doing my best to be polite while giving my opinion, sticking up for romance when necessary, and sticking up for writers all together. Writing is hard enough without us putting each other down, right? No one looks good spewing vitriol at someone else (or their genre).
ALL writing is difficult. Mysteries have their difficulties, romance certainly does, sci fi? You betcha. Literary fiction is probably the most difficult genre to pin down and most likely the most difficult to write simply because it is so nebulous – there’s no road map of any kind to follow when writing the literary genre. (Some say genre fiction is “cookie cutter” – I object to that term. I much prefer road map.)
That said, I firmly believe that all writing is a tough journey, and it takes tough men and women to stick with this type of career. I stopped being a wilting flower back when I was a ballet dancer in my teens. But these newer communities of writers that I’ve been hanging with made me uncomfortable, unhappy, and in many cases, depressed. (No, not all the people were downers – some of them were genuine, and sweet, and I suspect we will keep in contact. I also suspect they are romance writers.)
So it was with some measure of relief that today I allowed myself to stop following a few online conversations. I stepped back into the cozy, warm, accepting world of romance writers with a huge sigh of relief. In my eleven years of writing romance, and ten years of belonging to Romance Writers of America, I have been mentored, nurtured, buoyed up when I was down. I have received spot-on comments on my work from critique partners and contests, heard the right advice at the right time from the right workshop, and jumped with joy when friends sold, or were RITA® or Golden Heart® finalists/winners.
Through the Romance Community, I have met friends from across the world, across the country, and right here in my home town that I know, without a doubt, are rooting for my success just as hard as I’m rooting for theirs.
The romance writers’ community is one of warmth, helpfulness, friendship, and encouragement. I truly believe that RWA has it right – when the book tide rises, all book boats float. All authors benefit from one author’s success. Especially wild success, like JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer.
Life is tough enough without having writers buy into the belief that they must put other writers down in order to make themselves rise. I am SO glad I could step away from that community, and return to the warmth, acceptance and nurturing of the romance writers.
There are plenty of places to go if you want to get beaten down by life. It’s nice to know there’s a place I can go to get the support from others in my profession. Thanks, Romance Community. I totally Heart each and every one of you lovely people.
Thanks for stopping by, I love having you visit!
Very nice post, good points indeed!
I know what you mean. The romance groups have such uplifting writers. It’s nice to know that there is such a level of support.
heart you back! thanks for the post
Hi Christine! When I first started writing, I never imagined meeting so many wonderful people. The romance community is amazing. I’ve made such special friends, both in person and online, and their kindness and generosity is something I’m so grateful for. I heart you back!
Hear, hear! Beautifully put, Christine.
I heart you more!
I am with you. My career did not get off the ground until I joined RWA & my local chapter. An online chaper helped critique a book i ended up selling. They were tough but encouraging. I write romance because i read romance.
There is just NO place for put-downs amongst writers, in my opinion. All writing, as you say, is WORK and we should support one another – always.
Good for you for stepping up and saying so.
Yay! I double heart you, and I too heart all writers, especially those who include a happily ever after. : )
I heart you and all of my romance friends. I sometimes wonder if the “negative” reaction to romance is caused by its numbers. Romance far outsells all other genres. I think others put it down in order to feel better about themselves. It is a shame, but I think that feeds into the negativity.
I’m brand new to the romance writing community, with a book coming out in May (meaning, as of right now, unpublished), and I am amazed at the warmth and welcoming friendship offered up in this genre. I completely agree.
While not a romance writer myself (although my current WIP is young adult contemporary romance, hmmm), I have been blessed to find some supportive writing communities. I have also stumbled upon some less-than-accepting writers, especially those who look down at others not publishing in the same way they are (self, indie, trad). I glean what I want and get out of there quickly. You are right, Christine! Writing is a tough enough biz without being smacked around by others on the same journey you’re on. Great post!
So right. No room for negativity. If only we could get everyone to think that way. Big hugs!
Well said, Christine! While I write suspense & horror, my work usually has a relationship in it. It’s not truly romance, but romantic elements. One of the first things I tell any new writer is to join RWA regardless of genre. You just can’ t beat the information, nurturing & mentoring you can find through them. I have found writers in other groups to be awesome as well. Like Julie said, it’s the individuals in some of those groups that are just difficult to deal with & I try to ignore them. I’m lucky to have the writing friends I have & I appreciate every one of them. 🙂