As mentioned in the Do the Thing! post on Monday, while I do organization, because Racheline can’t, she does a lot of our marketing, because it’s still weird for me and talking to people is scary. Of course, that lovely division of labor isn’t always practical or possible; such was this past Saturday, when I went to my first meeting of the Washington, DC chapter of Romance Writers of America (You can read Racheline’s post about her experience at the NYC Chapter’s April meeting here.)
Because I am twelve, I had a horrifically stupid problem the morning of the meeting: I had a hickey on my neck. Appearing in public with a bruise on one’s neck isn’t generally a thing one does in any sort of mixed company, but May in DC means disgustingly hot and humid and I so did not want to wear a scarf. But then, I thought to myself (and in email conversation with Racheline, who thought my predicament was absolutely hilarious) that if there is a group of people in the world comfortable with the various workings of sex, it is going to be a room full of romance writers.
So I did my best to put the weirdness of doing a public event and little bit of embarrassment aside, skipped the scarf, and went,
The writers of the WRWDC group are completely welcoming and lovely, and the key speaker for the day, Mindy Klasky, gave two excellent talks on various parts of the businesses. And, occupied with thoughts of series-building, and marketing plans, and the intricacies of self-publishing, I completely forgot to think about the damn hickey.
Women are taught to be full of shame about all sorts of things — including our desires, whether that’s sexual or career-related or anything else. We’re shamed by others for the books we write and read, romance novels included. But the WRWDC room was full of people, all of them women, who are serious about their craft, proud of their business, and capable advocates of their work without any sort of shame or apology.
It can be a little agonizing to say to a friend on a street, “I write romance novels,” and I’ve been met with eyerolls and assumptions that my writing is somehow less worthy or lesser quality than a sci-fi book or something involving dragons. This is of course bullshit, but there are some days when I feel like I’m shouting I AM HERE AND I AM GOOD into a void that keeps telling me I’m anything but.
Having a network of other writers focused on doing the work, not justifying it to themselves or anyone else, is more than encouraging — it’s empowering. When the topic of the day isn’t “no really, romance has value! (and it does, and is a massive enough market that it doesn’t need mine or anyone else’s justification) but “What tools keep you on track when you are juggling writing, and editing, and marketing on multiple projects simultaneously?” it does a massive service to everyone in the room, skipping over all the useless shame and leaving the way clear (or at least clearer) to doing all the things.
So skip the scarf. And do the thing.