Don’t Dis Other Writers

21 Nov

This is your fair warning: As I write this, I am exceedingly angry.

This week, I had three people who have lived in the writing world mock me (or just the group in general) for being a member of RWA — Romance Writers of America.

How dare you? How dare you, another writer, mock any group that is working hard to perfect its craft.

Mock those putting out bad prose, weak stories, plagiarizing, repeating the same plot over and over… mock anyone not doing the work, but don’t you dare – don’t you DARE – mock hard-working writers who are perfecting their genre.

As an aside: You want to mock Romance? Fine. Go find me ten books you love (with protags old enough) that have no sign of romance or relationships in them. I”ll wait… Oh, you know what? No. I won’t.

Relationships are one of the key driving forces behind humans, humanity, life and thus characterization. Even if those relationships don’t become a heated love affair, they still play out the same way. The steps are the same, even if in the end the characters don’t end up together.

So, I’m not much for mocking romance either… SFF, Mystery, Humor, Literature, Fiction, YA… All the greats have some type of relationship in them. That’s what makes us (and then our characters) human: Relationships.

Let me lay it out like this: When I wanted to start writing, there were no groups around me that were willing to take on unpublished beginners….except RWA. Those other groups? Snobs, all of them. I asked for help finding something from a specific group and was literally told, “Come back if you get published.” Um, yeah. And I’ll need you for what exactly then? was how I felt.

I ended up in RWA by default…with the same fears about “those romance writers” until I got in there and saw what they did. Then, I was blown away.

And here’s what RWA taught me. When I say “taught” I mean just that. I don’t mean a brief mention or overview, I mean meat and potatoes taught me. Monthly workshops and conferences that were more than just author love-fests (don’t get me wrong, I can fan girl with the best of them, but I also need to learn from the best of them):

  1. Plotting v Pants
  2. Using both those tracks to write
  3. The hero’s journey
  4. Character v Plot driven writing
  5. Professionalism
  6. Absolutely everything I know about the writing industry
  7. Querying
  8. How to write a synopsis
  9. Pitching
  10. Story arc
  11. Conflict
  12. Conflict development
  13. How to find an agent
  14. Basic agent contract knowledge
  15. Write-ins
  16. Brainstorming
  17. Networking
  18. Pacing
  19. Formating
  20. Worldbuilding
  21. Building a world bible
  22. Self-editing
  23. Working with crit partners & beta readers
  24. Story Structure
  25. Writing life structure
  26. Reading for growth and knowledge
  27. Building a platform
  28. Writing a hook
  29. The importance of the first 5 pages
  30. The importance of carrying that importance thru the whole book

I’m sure the list is longer. That’s just what I wrote in about a minute off the top of my head.

What amazes me even more, these same people who look down on RWA and all its members (which has a fair split of romance & non-romance writers) is that when I discuss 1/2 the things on the list, I first have to explain what they are.

I had a lovely chat with one of the top agents in the English writing world. We were in a car together for about an hour. She’d needed a ride and I had a car, so hop in! We’d just spent a weekend at an RWA conference and she spent the first 15 mins telling me how nice it was to not have to worry about etiquette and people who didn’t even know what a pitch was.

She literally said that the best conferences — the ones that were most professional and  with the most informed members — was RWA. She said the next group out was mystery writers.

What if I went around saying, Oh, you drawn cute little pictures..how nice. OR Oh, look more magic and swords… I’m sure that will be something substantial when you write about grown up stuff?

No, I don’t do that. One, because I don’t believe that (I envy illustrators their talent and I also write fantasy)…but that’s what everyone who knows nothing about Romance, Romance writers or RWA does every time they turn their nose up at the group or me for being a member.

We’re all writers just trying to get our best foot forward. Dont’ stomp on someone else’s foot. Be a good citizen of the writing world. Just like every aspect of life, be polite, treat others as you want to be treated and don’t judge something you only know through sterotyping.

In the end, does it matter? No. You can be insulting all you want. But, of those 3 people this week, 2 of them asked me a favor. Amazing how I was just to busy to commit.

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11 Responses to “Don’t Dis Other Writers”

  1. abby mumford November 21, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    i’m not personally a member of RWA, but i can’t even count on two hands the amazing things i’ve heard about that organization. it’s got so much going for it, especially all the passionate members, that i find it impossible to believe people (other writers!) could be so rude as to overlook the benefits of such a group. and then after insulting you, ask you for a favor? honestly. have some tact people.

    sorry you were put in such an unsavory position.

  2. briaq November 21, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I feel like we — as writers — get very genre elitist. OH, I write GENRE. Everything else is — IN such a hard, hard career, we need to focus more on what we can learn from one another instead of how we can rip have other down.

  3. dyromance November 21, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Go on girl! That’s right, I applaud your being too busy to help such jerks out. It is ridiculous that time and time again such insecure writers feel the need to trash romance in order to make themselves feel better. Good thing we romance writers have a healthy sense of who and what we are and are perfectly capable of circling the wagons and supporting our own when required. *hugs* to you for having to deal with such stupidity and the gall for 2 of them to actually ask for favors!

  4. Chrissy November 21, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I have no use for RWA– but I have not been a member in ages, so it may have changed. It seems a bit dumb, however, to mock a person for making a choice that works for him or her.

    Don’t like it? Don’t join. Perfect world.

  5. briaq November 21, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I’ll admit (and have admitted) I had the same preconceived notions about Romance (and it’s writers) before diving in… But RWA got me to where I am today and I learned that Romance as a genre is just as diverse as America and its people.

  6. briaq November 21, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Exactly – I would never attack someone for doing what works for them…especially those people who HAVEN’T been members and don’t know what it is. Just hearing the word “romance” and knee-jerk out the insults…

  7. Jeannie Lin November 21, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I spoke at a non-romance writing conference and at first I was worried there might be anti-romance sentiment. But it turned out both my workshop and my master class were completely full because I was talking about practical steps about what it took to query, submit, sell and hone craft. All these things I learned because I was part of RWA. I’ve found romance authors are to be very open about the industry and focused on the nuts and bolts of what writing means as a business as well as a craft.

    A cool anecdote from our chapter: we have a husband and wife writing team who were focused on paranormal and urban fantasy. They joined after hearing two of our romance authors speak at a library. The wife said she wasn’t sure how her husband would respond to the talk because they were romance authors, but he was the one that insisted they join RWA because he saw that the romance authors knew what it took to get published.

  8. briaq November 21, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Exactly Jeannie – It’s about who you can learn from, where you can get the knowledge and what you’re willing to do with it. It’s about the work – the craft. Also, having been to some of your stuff, I know how genius you are 🙂

  9. Kat Cantrell November 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    You know, I brace for the negative comments and smirks every time I say I’m a romance writer, but I’ve never gotten any. Everyone has always said “cool” or “that’s awesome” or my favorite “how great that you get to do something fulfilling”. 🙂 Of course, none of these people were writers. Maybe that’s the difference? And if so, how cruddy is that??

    Anyway, I hope you convince a few people to stop being mean. Bullying is still bullying, even if the target is an adult, and is completely inexcusable.

    PS I’ve known I wanted to write romance since I was like ten, so joining RWA was a no-brainer for me.

  10. briaq November 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    The beautiful irony of all this? My books don’t necessarily fall into the “romance” category even for YA. I had nothing to enter in RWA’s Golden Heart this year because my current wip wouldn’t fit the romance genre…and yet, RWA has given me so much knowledge and info.

    It’s kind of like saying, I don’t believe in libraries.

  11. jessiebincr November 23, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am not a member of RWA, but only because I just don’t have the money to put toward the membership fee right now! I love their site, it has given me so much information, and I plan on joining eventually. I dislike the snobbishness of some other genre writers, especially “literary fiction”, who look down their noses at other genres, as if they’re somehow less literate or less an author for writing YA, romance, Sci-fi, whatever. I have read some crappy lit fic, and I have read some amazingly moving and well-written YA, romance, sci-fi, whatever. It’s about the quality of the writing, period. Labels have nothing to do with it. As writers, we need to strive for quality overall, forget labels and genre divisions, and help each other out. Thanks for this post, it was awesome!

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