Message from the President

July 2023 RWR
Clair Brett
Happy July! As I sit here post conference looking at the dreaded blank page, I have a confession. I struggle most months with deciding what to say in my messages to the RWA membership. But this month as I recover from jet lag after the RWA2023 conference, I am happy to tell you all, I know what to share.
I have three major takeaways from this conference that I need to share. If you attended the conference this year, you may recognize similar things to what you walked away with. If you were not able to attend this year, I hope to use this to encourage you to take action on your own writing career and make plans for 2024.

Takeaway number one: Community is more important than we think.

Many of us remember the anticipation of RWA conferences past. I have attended all the conferences since the pandemic. The first was a slow roll back to being with people outside our “families.” It had a whopping eighty attendees, but for many of those who attended, it was a balm to the writer’s soul. Last year, we moved from the retreat format of that first one to the more traditional model, and it felt good to stretch our writing arms and legs and get the kinks out once again. This year, though, the vibe came at you from a different place. With around 200 romance writers and a dynamic menu of workshops, the anticipation could be felt in each workshop room.

Every conversation I had or overheard spoke about the joy of getting to be with like-minded writers and to connect with new people. And though we had many familiar faces, the enthusiasm from the many first timers was contagious!

They always say that writing is an isolating, solitary act. I would agree that when we are at our computers typing away, we are alone, but I would counter that without a full and active community of writers all working toward the same goal, the lone writer would not have the opportunities that we have today.

It is those moments that writers feel alone that they need to know there are people around them that understand their concerns, fears, cheers, and that someone sees them. It is those interactions that help us sit down at that keyboard alone to create our HEAs for our readers.

Takeaway number two: Asking for help is necessary to success.

Along the lines of “writing is solitary” is the idea that we all need to figure it out on our own. That couldn’t be further from the truth. RWA is special among many other professional writers organizations in that we welcome unpublished authors to come and learn from those of us who have been around the block. Many organizations require authors to already be generating an income from their writing, which is a threshold for membership. RWA believes that it benefits the entire industry to educate all authors in their writing career journey.
This was on display in Anaheim. We welcomed many romance powerhouses ready to share their experience and talk to new writers at every turn. Many of us reminisced about meeting our heroes at RWA conferences and how willing they were to encourage us. This has not changed.

I was even able to solve a huge plot issue that was holding up a work that I was on deadline for during one of the workshops. Thank you for the character meditation workshop—you saved me!

Even though there are many different levels of authors in our mighty group, we can all gain something from each other. Writers who have been at this for a long time found that the new energy from our first timers helped to remind them of the love and joy we sometimes forget when we are in the trenches day after day. The newer writers hear from those who have “made it” that they all started as nervous baby writers who didn’t think they belonged in their first meeting, but soon learned that everyone is welcome. This was a huge take away when I looked around at the diversity of writers and subgenres sitting in one room sharing their ideas and giving support.

Takeaway number three: RWA is more relevant and important to the industry than it ever was.

This conference hit home for myself, and many people I spoke to, that this organization is as important as ever to all romance writers. As indie publishing grows and expands our ranks, as romance authors do what we do—push the boundaries of literature and storytelling—and traditional publishing works to pivot in an ever-changing publishing industry, RWA needs to continue to push for inclusion and be an example of what that looks like to the publishing industry.

RWA’s original mission was to build up romance authors and give them what they needed to grow as an author. That is still our focus, but I believe RWA2023 shows our intent to offer that focus to anyone who wants to write stories with an HEA or HFN.

We need to be a safe place for all romance authors to come and get business information, publishing news, craft classes, or just to fill their emotional well.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but this conference left me with the feeling that whatever happens, we are doing something important for those writers we represent. And there is nothing we can’t do when we have a common goal and get together to make it a reality!

I encourage you all to consider the RWA2024 conference in Austin, but before that, I am putting out a challenge to all members: if you have found value or community from RWA, please go out and find other authors who can benefit from the same and add them to our ranks. The more we have, the more we can do!