Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July President's Message

Looking back over my messages of this year’s presidency, I noticed an ongoing theme –Gratitude. In addition to our dedicated volunteers, some of whom I have thanked in this column, I am grateful for the networking available through OCC/RWA. When I joined in 1985, the monthly meetings were my only opportunities to learn from published romance authors, aside from the Romance Writers Report. Today, the internet has changed all of that. I’ve heard writers say they get what they need from chat rooms, blogs and online classes. They say, “I can’t afford to take time away from writing to spend a day at a chapter meeting.” Or “I can’t afford the gas to drive to a meeting.”

My answer: I can’t afford NOT to go to a meeting. It keeps me connected. It keeps me writing. It keeps me sane!

A room of writers has a unique kind of energy that resonates with fellow writers. It’s a knowing smile that brightens your day. It’s a look of true understanding when someone gets a rejection letter. It’s the sound of encouraging words from someone who has experienced the same disappointment but had kept plugging away, refusing to quit.

It’s the nuances of the business shared in a casual conversation that an author simply doesn’t think to write down in an email—an offhand comment about an editor seeking a story that happens to be right up your alley.

Attending meetings gets us out of our writing cave and practicing our social skills again.

In July, our afternoon meeting will have networking roundtables in the main room with our published authors fielding questions from our members. In the smaller room, our unpublished members will be able to practice their pitch for National conference appointments. Even if you aren’t going to the conference, take this opportunity to find out how the “editor” (one of our published authors) responds to the premise of your story.

If you haven’t been to an OCC meeting, you’re missing out. If you live out of the area and you’re going to National conference, please visit our hospitality suite to meet other members.

“One hand reaching forward and one hand reaching back in a continuing chain” is the motto of OCC, and I am deeply grateful to be one small link in this enduring chain.

- Sue Phillips
OCC/RWA President