Saturday, August 06, 2005

RWA Controversy

I first joined RWA over a decade ago. Since that time I’ve seen one battle after another. It’s pretty sad and disheartening to me. RWA should be all about support and encouragement and promoting a decent wage and a positive imagine for romance writers and our novels, but way too often it’s just a place for some members who have issues, old hurts, or old anger, to vent and cause whatever trouble they can. They wait and watch for any slip, mistake, or the slightest hint of discord, and then they grab a big long stick with both hands, jab it into the pot of you know what, and stir with glee until they smell up everything they can reach. (And with the internet, that’s a far reach.)

If you think I’m being mean or unjust, just sit back and watch the next time any little thing comes up that can cause trouble. In fact, you’ll probably notice the same people are there first and handing out the sticks every time. They toss in conspiracy theories and how board members all have their own agenda, they try to make it seem that the published members are against the unpublished and the print authors think they are better than the e-published authors and…well….if you have been a member of RWA for a while, you’ve heard it all.

It is not us against them. RWA is one group of romance writers.

Let’s face it, RWA is a huge organization. There is no way you can please everyone even in a small group. So of course not every member of RWA is going to find that the group fills all of their needs or even supports all of them. A large organization’s goal is for the good and betterment of the majority.

RWA isn’t there to support other genres of writing. The group is called Romance Writers of America. There are other organizations out that for other genres though.

RWA isn’t there to support every publisher. That means there are standards set for publishers. If a publisher can’t meet those standards then that’s not RWA’s fault. The idea is to help writers earn the best pay they can for their work. That’s the same goal every big writing organization should have.

RWA is run by a president and board that are elected by members. They serve without pay and often while putting up with constant criticism and very few thanks. They are writers like the rest of us, and human like the rest of us, which means they aren’t perfect. So that means there will be mistakes and missteps and maybe even things just done down right wrong once in a great while.

No matter what though, making a public spectacle of the situation, going on every e-mail group and board, fighting with each other, repeating things that may and may not be true, bringing up again every wrong they feel RWA has ever made, keeping on until it spills out to the general public and writing groups that have nothing to do with romance, only makes RWA and all of her members look bad.

I sure haven’t seen the same thing happen with other major genre organization. RWA is hugely made up and run by women, we all write and read romance, so what kind of impression does this give of us to others?

I really feel that the people we elect to run RWA try to do the best they can and to please the majority of members as much as they can. I know I wouldn’t want to stand in the shoes of any one of them for even a week. Just writing this one note is enough stress for me. I’ve seen what happens when someone disagrees with those stick stirrers. If you think they can turn on RWA quickly, you should see what they do when someone dares to not agree with them, or hand them back a little of their own medicine.

That works in their favor though, since pretty soon few people will argue with them on an e-mail list--I know I stopped even trying years ago--so only the people who agree with them post and keep things going. They stir things up so much that you begin to feel that everyone must agree with them, since that’s all you see. It’s not true though. The votes by RWA members prove that time after time. It’s just that a lot of us don’t care to fight with them anymore. In fact, it’s for all of those who don’t like the fights, that I’m daring to write this for so you’ll know you aren’t the only ones left who don’t agree or who don’t enjoy the tension.

I’d like to think that most RWA members are part of the organization for the positive things I mentioned above and that the negative things bother them as much as they do me. That when they have a problem they would send an e-mail or a letter to RWA and calmly explain the issue they have, what they feel is unjust or wrong about it, and then give some things that they feel would be more satisfactory. After all of that is said and done, remember that things still might not be the way you wish they were because maybe the majority of members didn’t agree or didn’t have the same wants or needs. As adults though, we know that just because we look in a box of apples and find a couple going bad, that doesn’t mean we have to throw out all of the apples and the box along with them, and then go cut down the tree.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not on the RWA board or do I have any agenda other than telling it like I see it. (Smile) I really don’t care if you belong to RWA or not, if you are published or not, are print or e-published, or anything else. If you write romance novels and you want to be the best writer you can be and help others learn what great things romance novels are, and help solve problems instead of making them worse or making more of them, then you’re all right by me. (Smile)


Gabrielle said...

Bravo, Charlotte! Every organization has troubles from time to time, there are always things that can be done better. But when people take what was a series of incidents (kind of how airline crashes happen, is how it unfortunately appears to me) and try to make more out of it, or accuse people of things they just haven't done, it's really ugly. I don't agree with every decision the board makes, but I know they're doing their damndest to make things run smoothly for us. Everyone's trying to do their best, so give them a little breathing space to get it done.

Charlotte Dillon said...

Thanks for the Bravo, Gabrielle! (Smile)