Message from the President

July 2022 RWR
Clair Brett
Happy July! I can’t believe we are halfway through summer and packing for RWA nationals. This last weekend, I attended a large author signing event with close to 100 romance authors. It was the biggest event I have attended in a long time.

One takeaway from that as I empty my suitcase, only to start filling it again for our conference, is that community is important. The old image of an author is a solitary writer sitting alone day after day, crafting their stories in a vacuum. Yes, it is true that most writers do their actual writing alone—not all, but most. However, the reason we are drawn to writing is to understand the people and world around us. Humans are social animal. Yes, even the introverts thrive better with community.

It never fails: get a group of romance writers in a room, and the volume will go up tenfold as they interact and commune with that which we all know best, our stories. Only another writer can understand the trials and tribulations of imposter syndrome, even after the eighth release, or the main character who just won’t go along with the well-thought-out plot.

The RWA conference has long been a pilgrimage for romance authors for this very reason. And I can’t wait to feel the buzz in workshops or to greet attendees at the coffee breaks. To walk past a table and hear writers talking about their next series idea or the great marketing idea they can’t wait to implement. The energy at an RWA conference can’t be rivaled.
When I go to reader events as an author, I don’t go in wearing my president badge, and many writers don’t realize that I am the RWA president. It isn’t that I’m not proud of RWA, but I am a member first and just don’t think to inform anyone otherwise. One of my writer friends does enjoy sharing my alter ego and did so when we were all sitting around chatting one evening. The woman she mentioned it to was shocked, and surprised, and turned to me to say thank you.

We chatted for a long time about all things RWA. She stressed that being president was a monumental task. I agreed wholeheartedly. Being the president of any national organization whose mission it is to help further the careers of its members and further the equitability of an industry should not be taken lightly. It made me think about our current directors-at-large and all the time they have put into this organization, and the staff who have kept bringing our members benefits.

I explained to my fellow writer that I have a responsibility to this vast and amazing community of writers to make a space for those who are just finding out about romance and their dreams. It is up to those who have come up in the ranks to make the community flourish in a way that welcomes new writers and those who have been around for a hot minute. To me, that is the monumental task that is most important, and it is a task we can all take on. Just be available and supportive to your fellow writers. Our journeys may look different, but a bad writing day, that first publication, or that fan-girl moment when we get to meet our idols are universal. Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Karen Hawkins, I’m looking at you. There were never more gracious and kind women to meet than they were to me.

As for a monumental responsibility, I am in good company because every writer takes on a monumental endeavor when they sit at their computer with a document open that says chapter one at the top. Yet, through sheer determination, we manage to also write the end on that same document. RWA is no different. We all have a clear vision of where we want it to lead, and we must continue to put in the work to get there.

When I think of all the ways RWA helps the romance community thrive, all the other organizations we partner with to protect the interests of romance writers so that they may go off and create their stories, I know in my heart RWA makes our community better, even when we aren’t thinking about it.

I hope to see you at the conference coming up. If you are there, find me and say hi and tell me about your writing journey. Really, I want to hear it. If you can’t attend, take a day to connect with your writer family or on social media. Connection is what our stories are about. True connection on the page only comes from that same thing in our own lives. Don’t ever lose that sense of community, even if it is for an hour to come out of the cave do a sprint online. Community will be what gets us through everything.