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?