Monday, April 16, 2012

Leaving my Writers' Group




 
Update. Shortly after I quit, this club  disbanded. Since I was no longer a member, I don't know the details.
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Whew! I am a free woman again, so it's time for me to roar.


My writer's group sent out proposed new bylaws yesterday, essentially saying that not only can any member not discuss anything about the group with outsiders, but that if we express any opinions INSIDE the group that those in charge find offensive, they can throw us out.  


When one member protested, guess what? The club's leaders "accepted" her resignation. Today they get to accept mine. 


These women do not know me well if they think they can tell me what to say. Ask my husband or anyone else who knows me. It's one of the reasons I'm a writer. I believe in the power of communication, spoken and written.


I almost quit the group just a few months after I joined, when I found out that they'd excluded S/S works from their chapter contests. Yeah. That's my group. You may have heard of us.


I am ashamed that I didn't quit then. I had planned to quit after this first book, I promise. I had promised myself, my husband and my son that I would. But I'm quitting today, and today I promise that quiting will not slow down my progress toward being a published writer--without this club's help.  


Below, I've included the blog post I wrote and never published when I first found out about the contest fiasco. Maybe too little, too late now.  


So sad. So very, very sad.

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Today is the third day in a very hard week for me.  Monday, I learned that my local chapter of Romance Writers of America has taken a stand that saddens me. They chose not to accept stories featuring same sex romance in their published writers' contest this year.


The board made the decision, as is their right. I am a very new member. I bow to their decision. I guess it's right for that group. They cancelled the contest and gave all monies and scripts back to the writers.  Good move.


But what about me? This is, after all, all about me. It's not really about the writers who want to enter same sex romance books in this contest. They'll find plenty of other contests. It's not even about same sex couples who see this decision as discrimination. They're OK. The world is coming to understand them more and more. They really will be OK.








But me! I really loved being a part of this group of writers, women struggling just like I am to learn the writing craft and loving it. Women who enjoy discussing how to punctuate quotations, or audience expectations, or self publishing vs. traditional publishing.  And women who have achieved so much more than I have, who are published, who are spunky, like our oldest member, with a walker and a spark in her eye, who used to teach in Cuba. 


Darn. Will I never be able to get more information about those experiences from her? I mourn. This group of women accepted me, such a newbie, and took my writing seriously, and I really need them. 


But, on the other hand, I won't shop at Lowes now because they pulled their advertising from a reality show because it featured American Muslims. And I don't even watch reality shows. I have gay friends and always have. I went to the prom with a gay guy in 1972.  I really believe in diversity and acceptance. I worry that racism is playing too big a part in our politics. 


And (me again), I wonder how decisions like this will affect this group's reactions to my work later down the line. I will disclose that I am extremely hertro.  Just ask my husband. But what if I want to write about a character whose two best friends are same sex lovers--not that far fetched in my life. 


What if I want to write about a single mother whose son marries another man, and, through her growth and acceptance of that relationship, she discovers that she can love again, and builds a family with a new man who also accepts her children as they are. My next book is going to examine some pretty far fetched spiritual topics, possibly crossing the line into Wicca.  How would they feel about that?


And reading! And writing! Reading is all about opening your mind to ideas and places and thoughts that someone else put on paper. It's about receiving. It's about living veraciously. 


And writing is about making your fantasies take flight and sharing them with others. Reading and writing are magical experiences, and I cannot condone putting limits on either reading or writing.


I was tempted to just fade out the back door of this situation. I thought about making up an excuse for the next meeting, then just fading, dropping communication and going on with my life. They'd probably know why, but that way would be easier on everyone. But even that solution bothered me.


I don't want to go to the meeting and express my opinions. What if the press is there? What if I get glitter bombed? Remember, this is all about me. And I do not want to stand on that side of the aisle. I am not that person.


So, sadly, oh so sadly, I must take my stand. I want the members of my writing group to know that I admire and really like each one of them individually, and that I did look forward to a long and constructive future with them; but, with tears in my eyes, I have to withdraw my membership. 


I will look for a new writers' group. I hope I find one. I need to be a part of one, but, for now, I once again travel alone. But I am richer for knowing these women.

Today a new online Romance Writers' Critique was formed. We've started with a Facebook page and will be adding other tools to allow us to share and critique online. Please visit us and like us at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tulsa-Paper-Hearts/437822656232066# 




6 comments:

  1. Good for them! More and more groups are crying "discrimination" and the rest of us are supposed to accepted their alleged victim-hood.

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  2. To each his own. I just know that I can't be a part of those on the discriminating side.

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  3. Mystic,
    Just wanted to drop by and say "I feel for you." And you're right, it makes it twice as difficult when the group was otherwise very sweet and supportive. We'll get something figured out.

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  4. Thanks for your support, Lorenda. Not a good week for anyone, but the future is bright.

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  5. Came back and re-read this today. Just this week, I've fleshed out the older cougar on the dock in my WIP, and didn't realize until I'd re-read this that now RWI wouldn't accept my book, because her best friends are gay. Well, I don't propose to write gay sex, but gay couples will be mentioned. She was married to a much older man, who died and left her well off and told her it was time for her to have fun. So she does--at the lake--with younger men, but in her everyday life, she is involved in art collecting and philanthropic work, and her best friends are a gay couple. Just wrote myself out of any of their contests, I guess.... Oh well....

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