Saturday, June 25, 2005

Big Sister

I had to wait 24 hours before I commented on the latest stage of RWA's morality campaign, and while my temper has settled to a low roar, I'm still deleting every other line I write about it.

Now that Big Sister has spoken*, I can see what's ahead. No doubt the membership will vote in favor of censorship** (if you don't, why then, you're not a nice girl writer, and we all want to be nice girl writers, yes?)

Any self-respecting and intelligent writer will likely quit rather than fight the many and clueless. Thus the romance herd will be safe, and clean enough to pose for smiling snapshots with the First Lady, and made to inbreed until all they produce are idiot books.

I guess I'm still a little too angry to write about this.

Not too angry to post a couple of clarifications, though:

*This is an old press release. Once the survey results are in, expect it to change.

**This is not the first time RWA has done something like this to their membership.


  1. I didn't hold back at all on my blog, I lost it. And I never even said anything on the graphical standards as I was trying to stay out of it, but this is too much.

    Somehow the RWA thinks they're being subtle with their hidden agenda. I don't think they thought the internet would be used so effectively to get the word out.

    I will never join the RWA and, if they keep up with their attempts at discrimination, I will not be buying books from RWA members either.

    And if they really piss me off, I'll get little post-it notes printed up that say 'this author believes in discrimination against gays. You are supporting hate by buying this book' and put them on people's books in bookstores. And I'll be sure to post reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Go on RWA, try me. See if I don't do it.

    If the RWA can make political and moral statements, so can others--a key corollary that I don't think they've considered.

    I'm sure publishers will be thrilled with how the RWA has politicized romance.


  2. Anonymous9:07 AM

    As a long time member of RWA, I have written to the board of directors stating that I abhor this new direction, and unless it stops this nonsense I'll resign, wanting nothing to do with these narrow, bigoted definitions. I have also asked them to site specifically why the hell the IRS gives a crap about how we define romance, and why the current definition needs to be changed at all. This just sickens me.

  3. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I hopped over to the press release, and it looks like they've done some re-wording. It's "two people" (not "man and woman").

    (Though as a poly person, I'm sad to see that my attempts to write a poly romance don't meet their definition (end snarky comment))

  4. Like Touch of Ink, I read the press release after they reworded it. "Two people" isn't nearly as offensive, though I, too, have a problem with the idea that polyamorous romances aren't "real" romances. *sigh* It's some progress, at least; I knew a writer (member of RWA, I think) at one point who insisted gay romances were only homoerotica and people who wrote them should just stop calling them romance. That said, I don't understand why they need an official definition in the first place. *shakes head*

  5. Anonymous9:51 AM

    So, how long before all these pissed-off writers form the 'Romance Writers Guild'? RWG can represent the readers and writers by helping the writers, the publishers, helping with promotion, etc... and keeping their nose out of the editing/censorship business.


  6. Anonymous11:34 AM

    I hate to slam RWA (lie) but I'm now told that press release link is an oldie. The new survey will further define romance according to the aims of the current morality campaign.

    I was genuinely kidding when I made up my parody about the convent of Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene, but suddenly it's not funny anymore. It's RWA.

  7. Anonymous11:58 AM

    I'm not angry over this, but I can't think of another writer organization that would so severely limit the boundaries of its genre with this kind of definition -- and invite possible, and probable, stagnation. If I were a romance writer and even wrote WITHIN these boundaries they've outlined, I'd leave the group, simply because I wouldn't want to be part of a group that told its members what they must write or pretend to know the limits of the imagination within a genre.

    It's enough of a boundary to call something "romance."

    And Bridges of Madison County is NOT a romance, simply because the couple in question doesn't get together in the end?

    That's insane. Sometimes an unhappy or tragic ending HEIGHTENS the romance of the story. Romeo & Juliet -- unhappy ending, no romance there!

    This just seems like willful ignorance on the part of these folks in the RWA who are spearheading this -- I'm guessing this is their way of elevating what they do, and excluding what others do.

  8. Anonymous12:01 PM

    p.s. - what this statement says to the world is: "We are formulaic writers and that's all we are, and if you're not specifically writing in this formula, you're not one of us." It's an insult even to those writers who are writing within the formula.

  9. I hate to slam RWA (lie) but I'm now told that press release link is an oldie. The new survey will further define romance according to the aims of the current morality campaign.

    Christ on a crutch. Isn't the genre definition narrow enough as it is? Before, I was willing to give RWA the benefit of the doubt, but I'm left wondering just what the hell is going through their heads. A writers' association should not be a hotbed of elitism and discrimination. (note the "should." :P)

    Do you have a link for this, out of curiousity?

  10. Anonymous1:28 PM

  11. What I find most ironic about this whole thing is that in their efforts to control the romance genre, the RWA is doing nothing more than ensuring its artistic stagnation in exactly the same way that most pornography is artistically stagnant.

    Porn typically requires an orgasm, a "money shot", and now romance requires an "emotionally satisfying ending".

    Within the bounds of criminal and civil law, art should require only that the artist remain true to their vision of what they are trying to produce. Let the reader decide if they like it or not.

    "I'd rather be e-published, self-published or never published than to kowtow to any form of censorship."

    Amen to this.

  12. Anonymous2:12 PM

    The problem with RWA is its size and structure. The vast majority of the 9000 members don't bother to cast votes for the board or make an educated choice with their proxies thereby giving the board the power to overrule the vocal minority working for change. If the organization had originally been set up with a tiered structure that gave voting privileges to professional writers only (those selling their work and those who can prove they're striving to sell their work - as opposed to the many members who are there as fangirls and hangers-on), it would not be the embarrassment that it is today.

  13. As much as this royally sucks ass, as a member of the RWA I have to ask, do we try to change what we don't like (IE Vote including voting out board members) or do we leave? And I think this is an honest question.

    If we don't vote, we wont be heard.
    If we quit, and if they only loose a couple hundred members, then quitting doesn't mean anything. Not like losing a couple THOUSAND members would mean.

    Why do we, as writers, continue to figuratively kiss ass to get published?

    Nancy kissing RWA ass doesn't equate to getting published. The two don't meet. What publishers want and what the RWA APPARENTLY wants are at direct odds with each other right now.

    What's hot, what's selling, what publishers are buying, what's working is NOT what the RWA is supporting. Otherwise Kensington and Harlequin woulnd't be starting erotica lines, and Brava and EC wouldn't be so successful. Aciton adventure, sci-fi, paranormal, and fantasy romance not to mention chick lit and womens fiction wouldn't be doing so well.

    Just my humble opnion.

  14. Question from a non-Romance writer. What are the benefits of being a member of the RWA? All I've read on several blogs so far is that it sucks. ;)

  15. Cece wrote:
    "If we don't vote, we wont be heard.
    If we quit, and if they only loose a couple hundred members"

    Quite a few of us tried the voting route when we were "suspended" from PAN (the pubbed authors network) years ago--when RWA suddenly decided they didn't consider us small press and e-pubbeds "published."

    We also tried change by voting after one e-pub met the requirements for recognition but were denied it for abitrary reasons (reasons never put in writing or expressed prior to their application).

    I am an inspirational author and do NOT support the censorship RWA is attempting, but I left in January so can only voice my opinion, not vote.

  16. Robin.....thanks for the history....and the answer. =)

  17. Anonymous7:10 PM

    It's about anti-trust laws.

  18. Anonymous8:15 PM

    Thanks to all for the many great comments. I'm still having anger management issues here, so I'm sidelining myself for the moment.

  19. Anger management issues - hm, what about killing off a character? I bet some of the crime writers on your list will have some nice ideas.

    I suggest the rack. A skilled executioner could keep his victim alive for days, though I doubt the victims appreciated those skills. :)

  20. Anonymous8:58 PM

    Geez, I'm tempted to join RWA just to have a voice.

    As Cece said--if the organization could be changed from within, with elections or member feedback, that would be the best way to go.

    I just wonder whether authors, who are KNOWN for their insecurities and are so eager to 'make it' will stand up for themselves against such odds.

    These people are alienating the fastest-growing genre in the field. It's freaking suicide!

    And a "love-story focused book" is not a true romance? Then what the hell IS it??!

    Okay...maybe I'm NOT tempted to join...

  21. Should I be glad that I write SF/F/H?

  22. I think by its actions, RWA is working on cancelling its relevance to publishers and original and cutting edge authors--and then all it will truly be is a fangirl organization.

    As Jim said, if this were a necessary legal move of some sort, why is romance the only genre jumping through hoops and trying to hand down edicts?

  23. Anon> Thanks. Apparently I'm just oblivious today. :P

    Monica> I agree with you. I've heard writers over at Romance Divas say that they've found the organisation to be helpful to them--but it seems to me it's only helpful if you write their style of romance. I don't, and I think there's a lot of people that write fiction within romance bounds that don't write "traditional" romance--which, from what I can tell, is becoming more and more unpopular with readers.

  24. Anonymous12:12 AM

    I've only been a member of the RWA for a year, but the tangible benefits I've gotten have come from a) my local chapter, where I've met lots of other writers who are focused on genre fiction (not just romance) who act as a great sounding board, and b) the RWA email groups, where I've found online workshops.

    I don't necessarily get a lot of benefit from the national org , but I wouldn't be able to be a part of my local group without it. I feel like I've learned so much more about writing fiction from my group and the online discussions I've had than I ever did taking writing classes in college.

    Therefore I'm really torn. I will definitely make my voice heard as one of the younger generation of writers that the RWA damn well better try to recruit. However, if things don't get better, I'll be forced to quit.

  25. Clasping head, spinning around in circles, waiting for the pain to stop. This whole situation truly makes me insane. I've heard so many authors (including myself) quote the only reason they remain with the organization is due to their local chapters. I'm not sure what this says about the National organization. I know when I first joined RWA I received a lot of valuable information about the publishing industry and the craft of writing. Over the years that flood of info has dried up until all that's left is a trickle.

    I am giving RWA one more year. If nothing changes, I'm out. It's not worth the headache.

  26. Thoroughly reading all the comments and the blog posts, just a note to PBW--thanks so much for the link but my new blog is here:



  27. Anonymous4:49 AM

    Dropped in late to say: The RWA look like Elvis speaking out against the Beatles! Would the organisation perchance be in the control of older writers who are uncomfortable writing rauch, but yet wish to preserve their market share?

  28. RWA has a Reason for what they are doing - CENSORSHIP. (It's not a great reason, or even a sensible reason, but it IS their driving motive.)

    RWA = Anti-SMUT

    Too many of the established Romance authors have been fighting the title: SMUT-WRITER ever since the gov’t began attacking the porn industry back in the early 80s. The Romance genre was under fire for years, because they were considered stroke-fiction for women (which they were, but no one was going to make them admit it). After a long and vicious fight, they won the right to be an official (read: Respectable,) Genre of Fiction, like Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And now Erotic Romance is bringing that whole mess back – right in the middle of ANOTHER gov’t crackdown on Porn. (Romance just can’t win for losing.)

    RWA thinks it's protecting itself. Seriously. What it's DOING is pissing off the publishers.

    According to a few of my fellow authors published in NY - the Publishers are "Not Amused" with RWA's attempts at censorship.

    Ultimately, the PUBLISHERS to decide what they will print, and what they will not NOT. Apparently, RWA forgot.

    Morgan Hawke

  29. What Morgan Said...and I'm sorry but Anti-Trust??? That dog don't hunt.

  30. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I'm all for trying to change the organization from within--but I'm a brand-new RWA member and haven't been beaten down yet by previous issues.

    I emailed my objection to the survey to all 20 board members, and am starting to get responses from them. If you're interested, I'm posting the gist of them on my website, and will update as I get more (click my name to go there).

  31. Anonymous6:10 PM

    (Admiring Morgan's comments and her author photo. Both are killer.)

    Marlys, thanks for the info -- I think people should really see the board's response to your letter, so I'm going to put up a link post on the main page.

  32. Dear PBW -
    - I am ADDICTED to your blog. (When I just can't take it any more, you make me laugh.) You are the most Sensible author I have ever met. (You write what I think.)

    Morgan Hawke
    (Can I be your friend?)

  33. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Morgan, you're going to make me more insufferable than I am already. Keep it up! And I'd be honored to have anyone who writes as well as you do as a friend.


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