Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sharing the love

Maven Carrie RyanI spent last weekend at the WRW conference in Maryland (that's the Washington DC chapter of RWA). It was fantastic mostly because I was surrounded by people who loved writing as much as I did. Ok, it was also fantastic because I got to hang with my CP Diana and just chat about everything and I met super cool people who were fun to hang out with.

I wish I could remember when I first learned about RWA. I know that in 2000 I started my first book and I'm pretty sure I joined RWA a few months later. It was like this huge cache of knowledge that suddenly was open to me. I learned about series romance, I learned the proper formatting and length and how to write a query. I was on loops with authors whose names I recognized in the bookstore (and newbies whose names are now regulars on the NYT list).

I joined my local chapter, which at the time was WRW (to give you an indication, Nora Roberts is a member of this chapter). I went to their retreat in 2001 -- my first exposure to agent/editor appointments. The first time I ever heard Nora speak (every time I hear that woman speak I'm amazed and I learn so much).

Back then, the internet wasn't quite as every day as it is now. Sure, some people were using it all the time, but it wasn't quite as assumed or prevalent. It wasn't "understood" that all authors knew how to format a manuscript or pitch or all the other aspects of writing that are now easy to find out with a few google searches. I'm still amazed at the writers I meet who figured it all out without the benefit of RWA and the internet. Who just sat down and decided to write a book and it worked out!

Anyway, it was really neat to go back to this retreat, to be greeted as a newbie even though I'd once been a part of this chapter and at that retreat 7 years ago. It made me realize not only how much has changed, but also how much hasn't changed. In the end, these groups -- RWA, WRW, conferences, retreats, blogs, etc -- are all about spreading the knowledge. About writers loving writing and loving to talk about writing, to share what we've learned and to ask questions about what we don't know.

Perhaps it's a constant refrain in my posts, but it's always nice to be reminded what a great community we have. Unpublished, prepublished, published -- we all help each other out. And it was really wonderful to be surrounded by that -- the excitement and indulgence in what we all love.


Jackie Barbosa said...

I can confidently say that, without the writing community (both online and "live"), I would not have a contract for publication today. I love the way writers at all career stages support and guide each other through this wild and wacky world. When I wrote as a teenager and into college, it was such a solitary, lonely activity. It's much less so now and I really appreciate it.

In fact, I see a post on the subject in the very near future ;)!

Darcy Burke said...

Yep, I love that too, Carrie. I haven't been to my local chapter meeting in a couple of months and I'm having total withdrawal!

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