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#reverb10: community

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Reverb10 prompt from Cali Harris

@caligater

I’ve got to be quick with this prompt today, but that’s okay, because unlike most of my ramblings, this story is a short story.

I was writing romance a few years ago. Then my mother died, and I realized that I did not give one flying fuck about people falling in love. I didn’t care, and I couldn’t make myself care, and there was three-quarters of a book that represented months of work sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to care. That is a bad situation to be in when you’re trying to write anything in which the entire raison d’être is the love part. 

I tried. I really did. And then I started writing something else, something which yeahmaybewellkinda there will be a man at the end for my protagonist, but the book is not about them falling in love except yeahmaybewellkinda a little bit here and there. And no romance editor would have touched it, and no romance reader would have gotten what she wanted out of it. 

Before I had this realization, I was a member of Romance Writers of America. I was getting ready to let my membership expire, because they were promoting the writing of a genre I was no longer writing. And then I got an email announcing the formation of a new chapter of RWA, one for authors of books just like mine. I jumped in with both feet.

Over the past year this community of women has taught me more about this business than I could have imagined. I give back by keeping abreast of the member news and getting a brief introduction from new members for the chapter newsletter. We are writing—a risky proposition even in a good economy—a style of book that confounds some publishers and booksellers. Where do you shelve a women’s fiction novel? How do you market it? Is it book-club material, fit for a segment in the back with discussion questions, or is it more literary? How much romance is too much romance? Heavy questions when it comes to the thousands of hours a writer puts in, on faith, that this story needs to be told the way she wants to tell it. It’s a strange position to be in, but we’re in it together. Once again, I’m doing work I care about. Now, I’m not doing it alone.