Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sisterhood of Writers

I spent several minutes (well too many minutes) trying to put a YouTube Video into this blog, but the video had embedding disabled. The song I wanted to show was "Sisters are Doing It for Themselves" with Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. It's a great video--if you want to see it--go look at it on YouTube because I am still technologically challenged.

So now to the actual point of the song. I wanted to illustrate the way we, as writers, empower each other.  And we do! I see it in the congratulations flying around the Southern Magic loop, and I see it in the welcomes to new members. I also see it in the interactions we have with each other at the meetings as well as the most recent Readers Luncheon hosted by the Heart of Dixie.

And to think I started this writing journey alone. Oh, how much better it is with my writing sisters cheering me along the way. 

My first writing sisters found me. I had been writing for two years, had been a member of RWA for one, and had not joined a local writing chapter. One of the moms at my daughter's school said she knew another writer, a gal I knew from Britain only a little as she had a boy and well, I had a girl. Any rate, I was told she was published and more and so I thought, oh, I am not in that lady's league at all. 

Fortunately, Karen thought otherwise. She came up to me after our children graduated from 6th Grade and asked about my writing. I was, I know you'll not believe this, very shy about responding. I said, "I'm not published. I just write romances." Well, she just swept me up with her enthusiastic response, saying, "Oh me either and I write women's fiction. Let's meet over the summer and talk about our writing." 

I've learned not to say "I just write romances." Now I say, with pride, "I write contemporary romance novels with a whole lot of spice." Even that was a step for me. Somehow, writing solitary books about women finding love with strong, handsome guys who look like Viggo Mortenson, Hugh Jackman and Eric Dane seemed frivolous. But not anymore. Now it is the best part of who I am (besides being my darling daughter's mom). And I am very proud of my hard work and efforts. 

Fast forward a few months. Now Karen has introduced me to her Critique Partner, Sharon. We meet at Starbucks and they kindly pour over my contest results for my second book (which seriously will be properly revised and pitched at some point). Then they took me to my first chapter meeting and I joined the Washington Romance Writers. Finally, they asked me to join their critique group.

I was terrified! What if I was really, you know, a horrible writer and who was I to join this elite group of novelists who were so far ahead of me? And what could I possibly offer them in return?

It turns out they had plenty to share with me, but I also learned I was very good at coming up with ideas and plot solutions. I fit in. Along the way, the four of us pounded out my third MS. I learned about GMC, Scene & Sequel, and the PRO Loop. They helped me hash out queries and my synopsis for countless contests. I would not be the writer I am today without this fabulous support group.

Now I am here, in the South, and a member of two fabulous writing chapters who have made me feel so welcome. And they've brought me more information and support via blogs, emails, and the meetings (these two groups are really great--trust me--you are all very lucky to have each other). 

Besides the faces and names I have personally connected with as a writer, there are countless other sisters in this profession who make my writing world grow bigger and expand my knowledge with their generosity of time. There are the judges of the competitions I've entered who have written encouraging words, given great critique, and at one time, even placed me! There are the on-line teachers who have helped me hone my craft and been generous with answering questions and critiquing my work. And there are the published authors who have read my work, judged it, given me feedback (positive and constructive) about how to improve my writing.

And there are those published authors I meet in passing who with a few words give advice about how to fine tune my pitch or query for a particular publishing house. I appreciate their time and, here's that word again, generosity.

I am fortunate I met Karen 4 years ago. She is still my first person I go to for input about my writing. And her queries are AWESOME. I appreciate her support tremendously. Sharon is still my go-to gal when I flesh out my synopsis. 

Now I am here and I've met a few people who are on the journey. Slowly and steadily I am getting to know my new southern chapter writing sisters and I am so glad to be part of these wonderful groups. Since I have joined here, I have learned more about the publishing industry and getting to the next level: being published. There is real support here and I am glad I found it. 

This writing obsession is a fabulous passion. But it is made all the better by having amazing women by my side, encouraging my efforts and cheering even the smallest successes. 


Karen Beeching said...

Hey, Christine, this is a great blog and it’s such a great point you make. When I first started writing, it was very important to me that I improve my craft and get published ALL ON MY OWN. Now any writer who have been doing this a while knows that this is for the most part how it goes. We have to do the writing, we have to submit, and we have to take the rejection ALL ON OUR OWN. Not wanting “support” from anyone during my writing journey goes far back (and I won’t bore you with details), but let me say if I had to write an autobiography, it would be entitled, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Becoming a successful writer and doing it without help or support was so important to me that when I joined RWA a VERY long time ago (again, no dates please), I didn’t utilize the group the way I should have and eventually I didn’t renew. Quite some time passed before I moved to Birmingham, decided maybe I could use the support, renewed with RWA and joined our local chapter, Southern Magic. Now after getting to know everyone and utilizing the support system here (oh, I can’t even count the ways), I can’t imagine ever getting that first book published without saying proudly, “And let me thank (insert long list of names here—mostly my writing sisters, and of course, my hubby).

So I hear ya, Sister. I can also say, after belonging to a couple of other genre writing groups, that romance writers in particular are very supportive.

We rock!

Christine said...

Karen: I am so glad you reconsidered your membership in RWA and that you joined SM!! Now I have you in my sister roster!! And I am enjoying getting to know you via the meetings and the blog.

Yup, when we get published--the sisterhoods will be on the Thank You roster!!

Carla Swafford said...

It's hard to come out and tell people you're a writer, especially if you add the adjective romance in front of it.

But once you do, it sets you free. I know once I started coming to all the RWA meeting, I was set free to enjoy that part of me. There were so many people with the same affliction.

Christine said...

That's so true, Carla! People usually roll their eyes when at first I say I am writing romance. And then they usually say they've wanted to write a book, or they have an idea for a romance (usually THEIR love story with SO LOL), or....

Doesn't matter as long as I have my sisters in writing! I love romance. Always have and always will!

M.V.Freeman said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how the support, cheering, and kicking in the pants (when needed) has helped me--like you, I have met the most wonderful people in both chapters.

I realize now, that writing, although done alone many times, is not a solitary road--Which really gives me great relief!

(I love this post!)

Christine said...

Mary: thanks so much. You know you are making my writing world a better place...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Fabulous post, Christine!!! And yes, a chapter makes all the difference. Like Karen, I joined RWA a donkey's age ago -- and thought I never let my membership lapse, I concluded I would never be published because I wasn't good enough. It wasn't until I got to a place where there was a local chapter, and I got involved, that I found that support you're talking about -- and it just pushed me through and keeps pushing me. HOD and SM are wonderful, and I don't think I'd be where I am without the support I find in these groups.

Great, great thoughts. :)

Christine said...

Thanks Lynn. You were the first to contact me here from HOD and I appreciated it so much. Now I know you better and I am so glad you're finding the success you've worked so hard for--and continue to work for as you meet your deadline.

Christine said...
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