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?
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.