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 One where other writers sneer at romance writers (“bodice ripper” was used, though that term is quite out of date), even though they don’t stoop so low as to read the genre.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!