Saturday, June 23, 2007

Writer's League of Texas

I’d been hearing about the WLT even outside of Texas. People at the East of Eden conference in Salinas, CA last fall asked me if I belonged. I kept thinking I should join but never got around to it until last month.

I’ve been to two meetings now and listened to some very talented writers read from their work—contest winners and published authors. I talked to other writers sitting in the audience. One of them asked me why, if I have so many published books, I would need a writer’s organization at all.

Maybe it’s because I wrote my first 16 books in isolation. I didn’t know any other published authors. I sure as heck didn’t know anything about the business! I didn’t know anyone who would really understand when I talked about my characters arguing with me and refusing to do what they were told.

I learned so much when I joined Romance Writers of America in (I think) 1994. Got an agent for the very first time—the terrific Linda Kruger who retired a couple of years ago. (I have to admit I haven’t worked very hard to replace her yet but I know that I should.) I learned so much about the business that I had never known and I've made wonderful friends.

In the years since then, I’ve found myself speaking to non-romance writing groups as well—horror/sf writers, mystery writers, and general writing groups. What I’ve found is that each has its own distinctive feel. Each has a somewhat different perspective on the world of publishing. And yet ultimately we all share the same hopes and dreams and fears.

There are no magic short cuts. There are no secret handshakes. There are no 100% guarantees a given project will be bought by NY. I’ve heard it said that if we can stop writing we should. The problem is, of course, that we can’t. If we’re writers, we’re writers and we’ll write no matter what. If we’re writers, we have stories to tell, wisdom or ideas to share, a need to communicate through the written word. And the world needs those stories, that wisdom, those ideas.

All of which is my way of saying that I’m glad I finally joined the Writer’s League of Texas.