Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Under the Write Influence

by Libby Malin

The Romance Writers of America conference is just around the corner, which has my thoughts turning to those in my life who've influenced and supported my career. RWA is among them.

I'd always loved to write and longed to be a published author. My sister knew of this yearning and encouraged me, urging me to try writing romance novels, which she enjoyed reading. Her support pushed me to pursue writing as a career, to invest the considerable time in finishing manuscripts and learning about the business. With her words ringing in my ears, I no longer felt...oh, foolish...for spending so much time writing when it wasn't at all clear any of it would pay off. A very practical person, my sister gave me "permission" to pursue my dream, turning on the switch I'd resisted touching for many years for fear of appearing silly or out of my league.

I followed her advice and began reading romance novels, which I'd previously not picked up. I fell in love with Nora Roberts, devoured numerous Harlequin novels, and eventually raced through Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, with its wonderful blend of mystery, comedy, and romance. I started writing my own romances, happy to be penning stories with happy endings.

And I discovered Romance Writers of America. When I joined RWA, its magazine, along with its various email loops at the time, became my lifeline to other struggling writers and to the voices of those who were published. In fact, writers in this latter category --the published -- were so impressive with their willingness to give back to the writing community by providing advice, by telling their own publishing stories, and by providing examples of how persistence plus talent can eventually get you to the goal.

Articles in the RWA magazine showed me how agents worked, what editors were looking for, and how to avoid scammers. Chapter contest listings prompted me to share my works-in-progress for valuable feedback and even a finalist achievement and an Honorable Mention. Conference notices led me to the NJ chapter get-together where I learned to pitch to an editor and listened to workshop leaders talk about everything from how to "show" rather than "tell" stories to what to do when you get "the Call."

I "met" my critique partner on an RWA email group. She and another group member and I became email buddies, encouraging each other in our writing journeys. Nearly ten years later, we're still pals, all of us having achieved published author status. We live hundreds of miles away, but we're fast friends.

No organization is perfect, but RWA was an essential part of this writer's success once my sister pushed me over the edge to pursue my writing dream.

Who has influenced you to follow your passions?


  1. Yay for sisters!

    If it weren't for my sister pushing me to write, I probably never would have had the courage to follow my dream. Even now, she is the best motivator I have!

  2. Mostly it was the people I work with at the hospital who encouraged me. I'd write a book, print it up and put it in an Amazon box, and they'd pass it around. Then they'd beg me for more.

    I didn't join RWA until after I got "The Call" but I wish I had done it sooner. At the one meeting I attended of my local chapter this past May, I could have easily learned most of the things I have had to figure out the hard way.

    Nothing like starting at the beginning, is there?

  3. I have said before and will say it again: if not for the generosity and support of my RWA chapter HCRW, I would not be here. They are always there to answer questions no matter how ignorant, to be a shoulder to cry on, to pat me on the back, and to offer tips and advice.

    They are the greatest.

  4. My husband found RWA for me and my local chapter. He's been my biggest fan and supporter - and he's finally reading the book! LOL.

    Cannot wait until next week!

  5. Great blog post, Libby! I've sung the high praises of RWA before, so I"m glad to hear of it's benefits to you :)

    My parents have always been the main people who have pushed me over the edge. I think I talk more about my mom because she's very vocal about achievments and what not (whether they are hers or mine), but my dad has been there as well, in a much quieter but equally as encouraging way!

  6. My husband has always been very supportive but I don't think anyone pushed me. I took my writing seriously and eventually everyone else did too.

    RWA has been a lifesaver. I learned so much, met the most amazing people. Without the support of my home RWA Chapter, I wouldn't be here now.

  7. When I've spoken on writing to various groups, I always lament the fact that there doesn't seem to be an RWA-like organization for general fiction writing. At least none that I've seen. RWA is very supportive of new, unpublished authors.

    Btw, I'm not sure why my post sprang up early! I'd tagged it to post at 12:01 a.m. for July 9, I thought! Sorry to step on the toes of today's blogger!

  8. For me it was primarily my family encouraging me to keep at my "hobby" and the huge amount of satisfied readers of my web posted fan fiction. I came to the bigger world of writer's communities and the RWA much later. Now I definitely see the advantage to having that additional support.

    See you at Nationals!

  9. Great post, Libby! My dad always said I'd be published. My mother lived to see it and praised my books to all her friends. My children both are amazed when friends of theirs say they've seen more announcements about their mother the author all over the place. They're proud of me, which makes it so worthwhile. RWA, seeing other writers striving to become published, critique partners, it's all what has influenced my writing. :)