Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

I hear all the time that writing is lonely work. The noted author Fannie Flagg once wrote, “I nearly die of loneliness when I am in the middle of a book.” I thought for years, Well, I’m not lonely. I’m surrounded by totally supportive people who love me and are always there. Then I began to take the writing more seriously. I began to submit my work to agents and editors, read the how-to and reference books. I began to speak what I have come to regard as “writer’s lingo.” Even now when I begin to speak this technical jargon with my closest relatives and friends they get that glassy look in their eyes or ask me to explain everything in intricate detail.
This is where the loneliness comes charging in on a big, black rain cloud. Part of gathering all this information was in the hope that it would give my work a tangibility— unmitigated proof it could be a logical way to make a living even without the ever-resourceful diploma. The problem, though, was no one I knew spoke this language. It was as foreign and, perhaps, useless to them as the French I chose to learn instead of the more logical, versatile choice of Spanish in high school. I had no one to banter with in the way that only seemed to make sense to me. For a time, all other writers and those coveted agents and editors seemed as far away as Outer Mongolia, and I grew discouraged while trying to convince others this world really existed. It wasn’t just some lovely, sunny dream I had conjured on my own! Honest! The effort became exhausting. I began to question my own morale and whether or not this dreary rain cloud would ever part and let the rays of self-assurance beam through again.
Then the best thing I could possibly hope for happened. An assistant editor at a prominent publishing company in the romance industry threw me a lifeline. This complete stranger did something no one else had managed to do quite so effectively for me since I began writing my first serious novel at the tender age of sixteen. He centered me. How? He simply pointed me in the right direction: RWA.
As all romance writers know, RWA stands for Romance Writers of America. For those who don’t know what this organization is, I will break it down in layman’s terms: RWA is a lifesaver. Why? Because once you pay the yearly fee to be included in the national organization, you are eligible to seek out branches—or, fittingly, chapters—of RWA members in your area. Mine is the Gulf Coast Chapter—GCCRWA. The first time I came to the meeting I was so intimidated. Then they began to speak that writer’s lingo I thought for so long only I knew.

I left that first meeting feeling alleviated. Not only did I no longer feel lonely; I felt more confident. And I had the added benefit of a fierce rush of creative energy only satisfied by pulling up my WIP file and hammering out five, ten, even fifteen to a whopping twenty pages, more than I'd managed to jot down in three months. The rain clouds thinned and moved on to some other poor soul so I could finally bask in the creative glow.
Meetings are once a month. I wish they could be twice a month…twice a week…every day! Unfortunately, this cannot be the case. We all have lives to get back to and on with. Fortunately, I never have a chance to feel disconnected from the writer’s world because of the emails I get every week from those within the group. The loneliness stays at bay and has become an ebbing memory. There is still some thin cloud cover at times, but most every day the sun in shining and my writing is all the better for it! Thanks, GCCRWA! When the real world threatens rain, I escape to you and feel the sun on my face again. Happy writing!


Cookie Michaels said...

I feel the same way Amber. I always wanted to be an author but until I joined RWA it was just a dream. Now I feel like I'm actually in pursuit of it. I don't write like I should, but since you've joined us, your zeal and enthusiasm has rubbed off a little. At least now I'm thinking more about writing! LOL I've taken several online classes recently and hope to be popping out those babies at a rate that will make Nora Roberts jealous!

Glad you're one of us Amber.

Thanks for inspiring me to follow my dreams in a more steadfast path.

w/a Cookie Michaels

Allison Knight said...


You are so right about the loneliness. It never completely goes away, but having a group of writers close at hand, who understand, means as much to me today as it did when I attended my first meeting over 20 years ago, long before e-mails and instant communication. A writer's lifeline even then. Thank heavens.

And a great Blog!

Martha/aka Allison Knight