Membership and Community

This week, I finally joined RWA. RWA is the Romance Writers of America, and it’s the professional organization that encompasses all romance writing. Being a romance writer, I figured it was time.

I’m already delighted by the options available to me as a member. There’s a great message board, and there are many online and in person chapters that cater to localities and special interest groups. There are online workshops, and if one joins the local groups, there are in person workshops as well. There are even contests.

My next “join” will be a special interest group, but I can’t decide between the erotic romance group and the LGBT+ romance group, and I think joining both is probably overkill at this time. (For me, anyway.)

It’s interesting, this sense of community and membership that I get from these organizations.

I realized how much I was missing/needing that when I started chatting on the NaNo forums, actually. NaNo has forums divided into genre subgroups, and I’ve been utilizing the Erotica, LGBT+, and Romance forums quite a bit. When I hit the Romance forums, I always feel like taking a breath and saying, “Ahh, I’m among my people.” But even there is a sense that erotica is the odd duck. The LGBT+ and Erotica groups are a little more tailored, but they, too, have the feel that as a m/m writer, I’m just not quite into one mold.

My local critique group is fantastic (I adore them, I really do), but I’m definitely the only erotica writer, and the only LGBT+ writer (in writing practice, that is), so once again, I’m just a bit off of the beaten path (wow, three metaphors for one experience… so sorry!). They are great, and are often my Beta readers and critique partners, but it would be nice to not feel like I’m imposing many of them, or having to censor myself for the group. (That said, Eye is fantastic and has never once complained about reading my stories – she’s a great crit buddy.)

Even when we have NaNo get togethers during November, I have to censor myself, or at the very least, I can’t share my writing with most of the writers there. Not that we do a lot of sharing – mostly we just write – but it would be nice not to feel slightly embarrassed of my work. I’m proud of what I write, and I wish I could feel that way all the time.

All of that is why I’m excited to join RWA and special interest groups. I’m hoping that I can find a community of practice there that makes me feel less like an outsider and more like a family member.

I’m curious – are you a member of any professional organizations? Writerly or otherwise? Do you plan to join one once you’re published or hit a certain level of status in your writing? Or, if you’re not aiming for publication, do you ever plan on joining one?

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