And wouldn’t be surprising if I signed up with the Mystery Writers of America.
So why would a 6’3 Swede who writes thrillers pay $95 to join the Romance Authors of America?
- I secretly write romance novels involving dashing one-eyed pirates and the kidnapped baronesses who love them under the pseudonym Scarletta Bounty.
- My wife reads 4.6 romance novels a day and believes she’ll get a volume discount.
- Fabio talked me into it.
- I have an illness that manifests itself in the random scribbling of checks.
- My love of joining things, and going to meetings, is so strong that resistance was futile.
Except none of those are right.
This blog accidentally started because of romance authors and editors. One of them found my silly ad to sell a beater Hyundai, told her friends about it and the thing went viral.
I went on to write a number of things about romance novels, and every one of those posts got more hits and comments than normal posts. Here’s a sample:
- Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller
- The best Fabio romance cover OF ALL TIME
- Romance novelists are secret, epic army of man boosters
- The Red Pen of Doom guts THE NOTEBOOK
So am I joining RWA out of gratitude, or because I’ve made so many friends with amazing writers and editors who happen to be in the romance genre?
No. I’m doing it because it’s smart.
There are plenty of male authors who I’m friends with, and they’re good people. Fun, charming, interesting and happy to help with expert advice when I have a dumb question.
But I’ve thought about this, and it’s no coincidence almost every writer and editor I truly collaborate with is a woman. My editor-of-all-editors, Theresa the Stevens, my beta readers and editors, my literary agent Jill Marr—there’s a long list. (Related post: Some of my favorite editors OF ALL TIME)
The trick is, writing may be a solitary act—but only WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT.
Writing in a world-class way takes more than one man, or one woman, endlessly banging on a keyboard. It takes a team and a plan. Editors for story and structure, line editing, proofreaders, agents, publicists, cover designers, printers, marketers. Doing a book, and doing it right, takes a huge team of talented people.
Female authors and editors, especially in the romance genre, get this team idea better than anybody I’ve met.
The whole thing boils down to this: a dozen of average people, working together, will beat a bunch of geniuses doing their own thing on the football field. Put a team of organized geniuses out there on the artificial turf and hand them a pigskin and they will absolutely crush the lone-wolfs into powder.
The RWA is organized. They put on great workshops and their website is full of useful research and posts about readers and the craft of writing.
So I’m joining the RWA and hoping to hit next year’s national conference, not as a novelty, but because it’s a good play. They get the concept that nobody can or should do this alone. If you only write by yourself, and never get pushed or challenged, your prose will stagnate and die.
The best writing gets stronger—not weaker—when challenged.
We all need that shove, that breakthrough, the new trick that helps you snap old habits. Or the person you just met who’s figured out how to tame the same demon that plagues you.
And writers need to talk to other humans and to give back. I love teaching writing and speaking to college students. Also, editing folks I’ve met from Twitter and this blog is so fun it should be illegal. My red pen of doom sings songs while it kills words. NOTHING IS BETTER.
I learned all those things from an inspiring group of talented women.
Next year, I hope to learn more.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award. Represented by the amazing Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.