We take our writing community for granted.
I write this message on the eve of my first meeting in January as president of OCC/RWA. I'm filled with excitement and trepidation. As I've prepared this week, I've talked to many people within our own chapter, and others around California and the U.S. and you know what consensus I've come to?
We've got it pretty good here.
It's not that we're better … and in some ways I'd have to argue we are … it's more that we've built up into an organization worthy of notice. And, people are watching.
One chapter president mentioned that maybe 10 members come to their meetings, and we average almost 70 a month, and top 100 for our Birthday Bash in October. The author Lisa Fox posted a blog about if she should renew her RWA membership. She argued all she really got for her almost $100 (a $95 renewal fee) was a magazine a month. When probed further, she explained that her local chapter never met, never hosted speakers, and didn't offer any special benefits.
At OCC/RWA, we regularly plan special guest speakers, and 2013 is already packed with an awesome assortment. Plus, we're scheduling special events such as Lou Nelson's "Genius Plotting Workshop," which happened on Jan. 19. These things took LOTS of planning. Major kudos go to our program Directors Beth Yarnall and Brenda Parrish. I can't wait to see what Nichelle Williams (Nikki Prince) and Carol Persinger bring in (Have I mentioned that Harlequin called us?).
So that's what I mean by taking our chapter for "granted." While I'm a member of some online special interest groups, all I know is OCC/RWA (along with EVA, where I've attended some meetings) and I'll be speaking at LARA in November 2013 (so obviously, they're setting up the schedule). Not everyone has these benefits. I couldn't imagine our chapter being any other way.
The positive? Let's keep it going. If you have a suggestion of a special event or potential speaker, throw it our way. Have a new book coming out? Make sure to submit it to the newsletter, or let us know ahead of time for a potential interview. Many of these features I also submit to the RWA editor's list, and they can be picked up by other chapters (which means potential promotional activities. Can you imagine one interview being run in 10 different newsletters?)
Also, there's the whole idea of giving back. As I was getting ready this evening, I thought: "What do I get out of this?" And by that I really don't mean literally or physically. But what's the benefit of being president? I'm not doing it for attention, or "fame" for sure. Like many, I have a fear of public speaking, but I tend to put myself in positions where I have to do it (teaching, as an author at conferences). Part of the reason I'm doing this is to help others (an echo of my January message). On that note, in addition to how we may help you, what can you possibly contribute?
Finally, I'd like to say a special thank you to Sharon Hampton, who's taken over the Write for the Money program, to help generate a Book in a Year support. She's bombarded me with excitement and ideas (in a totally good way), and she's gone way above and beyond (handouts and extra giveaways!). Let's see how she can make a difference!
-- Louisa Bacio
2013 OCC/RWA President