Message from the President
November 2023 RWR
By Clair Brett
I try to practice gratitude daily. Science has proven it is one of the most important aspects of our mental health. November though, seems to beg me to reflect on the year and what I am thankful for. There are times in history that simultaneously make gratitude more important than ever, but also more difficult than ever as well. This is one of those seasons for me.
I have spoken to writers in the past few years that ask me the question; “why should I even bother anymore?” Writing stories with a happily ever after sometimes seems miniscule in the sea of turmoil everywhere around us.
I would argue that the moments when this question rears its ugly head are the times writers must double down on their efforts to hone their craft and get more books to our readers. I am reminded of a quote by Stan Lee:
"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end."
Amid uncertainty and fear our job becomes a bastion of protection, if only for a chapter or two that allows the reader to see another journey filled with grace, hope, and love. I would also argue that Stan Lee’s brand of entertainment makes people have a belief in good conquering evil, but romance reminds readers that in the feeling of hopelessness, hope always exists if we only look hard enough, if we only believe.
Romance authors have hearts filled with empathy and compassion and we are not immune to feeling the blows of current events, making it difficult to remember ourselves that hope can exist in the chaos. It can make our every word forced and hard to pull onto the page. Sometimes, we must walk away for awhile to contend with that chaos, but I don’t believe the stories ever leave us, and in that moment our own stories keep the hope alive in us, and when we come back to the page they are there patiently waiting.
As Robin Williams is quoted as saying “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” And I believe that romance authors use their own storms in life to further understand the importance of giving hope and a space to breathe to others.
This November, I am thankful for the readers that have given me the opportunity to give them that time to escape, which all too often is a precious moment in a person’s life.
I am thankful to all the authors that have given me that moment to breathe, because they create a world that may be rife with conflict and danger, there is always that guarantee of hope and happiness at the end. Also, to all those writers who have not let the challenges and hardships in their own lives silence their voice and are more determined than ever to guide readers to a happily ever after.
And I am thankful to all the volunteers in RWA who understand the importance of what romance authors bring to the world. These people work tirelessly to give authors the support they need to keep creating hope filled stories and giving them to the world. These people are not only doing all the “adulting things”, writing their own stories, and they still manage to fit in the work that brings every single program, webinar, this RWR magazine, and most of the resources that we as members appreciate to life. Without RWA I would not have realized the power a romance novel has to reach people in the darkness. Without RWA I would not have the bravery to put my stories out there. And, without RWA I would not have the circle of fiercely supportive friends and colleagues I have today.
Take a moment and think about what things in our lives have given us the skills to still see hope in the impossible. Love in the unlovable, and happiness in the face of sorrow. And know that, that is what you give people you may never meet in person.
May you fill your heart with gratitude,