They say to have a great story you have to have a beginning, a middle and an end. And they are right. I think it’s kinda neat that it is something that is integral to our very existence. Everything in life follows this pattern. And I think at our core we all know this but sometimes I think we forget. And then when the end comes along we wail, stomp our feet and question, ‘why?’. As if we didn’t know this had to happen sooner or later. But I get it. Later would always be our choice.
Somewhere along the line acceptance of the inevitable finally sinks in and you move on. But you carry with you the memories. Your mind will pick out a scene or moment that it loved from the beginning of that journey and it will make you smile. Then you’ll remember some of those trials and lessons learned along the way that helped you grow and your smile will twist slightly maybe even turn into a grimace at times. But you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction. You learned. You grew. And you triumphed. Maybe not always in the way you thought you would way back at the beginning but you did grow all the same. So you’ll follow that memory on through knowing the inevitable is coming. We want the end. But we don’t. Getting to the end means we triumphed but it also means that journey is done. And it makes us sad. Happy but sad.
Today I find myself reflecting on RWA’s latest decision on how one can be a member of the group. I don’t like the decision but instead of getting mad like I have over several of the other things they’ve gone to great lengths to implement over the past couple of years, I find I’ve gone full circle on the emotions and come to the part of acceptance. Probably not the acceptance that they are expecting but that’s not for me to worry about. Many people have tried to warn them that what they are doing isn’t right, that it will tear the group apart but they do not want to listen. They want to dice and segment and nitpick. And it makes me sad.
I’ve viewed RWA, rightly or wrongly, as a home, a family. Just those two words alone say it all to me. It was a home that accepted us all, letting us all carve out a room that befit us personally then we’d meet in the kitchen over a cup of our favorite drink to discuss everything under the sun. We’d grow in our writing and our friendships, maybe even argue once in a while. But one of the things I love about a home is that it stays steady. For me RWA and it’s Chapters have been home. Family. It’s been awesome! I’ve loved it on sooooo many levels. I’ve learned so much. (I’m not kidding on this. ) Met so many wonderful people and yeah, I have a lot of great memories. I don’t want this part of my life to end.
When I joined RWA 10 years ago it was a different group then it is now. Yes, it was supposed to be for romance writers but it was arms wide open to everyone, whether you wrote romance or not. Which I always thought was kind of fitting – romance is all about accepting and loving… There wasn’t a better type of promotion they could do then to act out what they wrote. It was about writers helping writers. And I told everyone I could about that aspect of the group in particular. It was my favorite part.
So everyone joined, decorated their room in the home the way they wanted and met in the kitchen. No one cared about how the other decorated their room. So I had pink curtains and they had black. Whoopee-ding. What was important was what we discussed in that kitchen which was all about how to write better stories.
Now RWA (in my opinion) is not so much concerned about wanting to discuss how to write a better story but rather critique what color curtains we are all hanging in our rooms. Actually they don’t want to just comment on the color of my curtains they want to dictate what color they shall be. Well, I’ve got news for them. I see two major problems with this.
So they want me to hang blue curtains in my room. I could say no problem, what’s the big deal and hang blue curtains in my room. But there are a gazillion shades of blue. Which they’ve already figured out. And decided, ‘No, we can’t have a house that doesn’t coordinate. We want everyone to have the same color.’ So they have decided we have to prove it. Okay, so aside from the enormous administrative issues of handling going through and checking things, once again, I could say, no problem and prove to them that I have the right shade of blue. And then guess what? Whaala, we now have a house that all coordinates and matches.
But this is where I think they have an even bigger problem. If we all match, if we all step to the same beat, all think the same, all act the same, all look the same, we are the same. We are cookie cutter. We are boring. And our stories will reflect this. Differences are good. Differences promote fresh ideas and force growth. Not only do our stories need differences, we as writers and human beings need them. And ultimately the readers will not buy a book that bores them to death because it was the same as the last hundred they read. They will go elsewhere to find something new.
I get what’s happening with the group. I realize some people are scared by differences. This is after all what is at the root of any kind of segregating. But I miss the old ‘arms wide open’ aspect of my writers group. To me that was the very essence and coolest part of being a member of that group.