26 June 2007

REPOST 8/22/06 RWA/SFWA vs. The Real World...

This is just one of THOSE subjects, I should warn you. It's one of those things that some people agree with and some argue until their faces turn blue.

First of all, "because RWA/SFWA does it/says it" is not a valid reason for anything, IMO. No matter what feelings of self-importance these folks have, they are not the end-all of the publishing world. Sure, they can make rules for what happens at their own conferences, and they have every right to do so. They CANNOT affect how other conferences are run. Nor can they force the world to turn on their rules.

Don't get me wrong. The IDEA of these groups is a good one. The practice of them... Well, that's not always so good. Many of the chapters are reported to be worth the money in themselves, despite the fact that many agree that RWA National is the downfall of the organization as a whole. There are plenty of wonderful people who belong to these groups, and there are some snobs who ruin what they COULD be for a lot of people. I'm not just talking about the snippy comments from the elitists. I'm talking about the fact that these same people are in charge of National.


Well, I could be a full author member of RWA, despite their constant changes in membership requirements, all of them geared SPECIFICALLY to keep e-published authors out of RWA. I am published with one of only two "recognized e-publishers." I don't want to join RWA. I have no reason to do it. Why would I join a group that designs itself to keep out everything I stand for and believe in?

EPIC exists now, because it was intended as the first e-book author group within RWA, and RWA refused them a chapter charter. There is a new chapter in RWA (about two years old) called ESPAN. It is attempting to do what EPIC would have done within RWA, and while they were granted a charter, life isn't easy for e-published professionals in a group that sets out to exclude them.

I won't even go into the whole PAN upheaval from years ago. Let's just say that RWA is not making friends and influencing people with their backward outlook on life and the growing industry. Neither are they making friends with their resistance to erotic romance, though the fact that NY has picked it up has swayed that issue quite a bit.

Until two years ago, I could have been a full member of SFWA. They specifically changed their requirements to exclude people like myself and refused to clarify their amorphous wording on the new requirements when asked for them, leaving me to wonder whether I am eligible to be a member now or not. I suspect not, and I suspect that I would have confirmation of that if I bothered to try to join. I have no interest in joining a group of authors or industry professionals that isn't even capable of crafting clear, concise articles for membership.

What I find amusing is that people still cling to the dogma put out by groups like this. You've probably heard it... There are only certain publishers you should submit to. There are only certain roads to getting there. There are only certain things you should write.

Bullocks! Let me state outright that the times have changed, and these backwater groups haven't changed with them. The largest-growing markets today started in e-publishing...or were e-books. Yet, RWA and SFWA are still clueless...and in some cases downright adversarial on the subject.

In addition, the "rules" they teach new writers, rules that these poor puppets with parrot back to you on lists, are laughable in the extreme. They even teach that, since e-publishers aren't "real" publishers, their editors aren't "real" editors and have no idea what real editors would do, when you try to educate them on what publishers will or will not do.

Okay...I'm done laughing now. For the moment, anyway.

I had a conversation once with a SFWA member who tried to use this line of spurious reasoning on me over a crit I gave her, a crit in which I cited no less than two science errors, a logic error and characterization weaknesses in a 15,000 word SF story. She didn't much appreciate my reply of, "You're telling me the editors at the publishers you deal with are THAT slipshod...and you're PROUD of it?" My editors would never have let those things slide, and I know it.

Oh, this is the same woman who claimed that Science Fiction was based on PLOT and that they didn't want deep characters. I kid you not. I still laugh about that one.

Of course, she derided my cross-genre work, because (now keep in mind that this is from a 30-something bi woman with lovers of both sexes...someone I would THINK, at a surface level of it, would be fairly open-minded about the subject of romance and sex)... Ready for her comment? "Romance is icky."

She tried to insist that my heroine (who came into the story as an abused member of the lowest class, stolen from her world and thrust into the position to become a member of the highest...if she's willing to marry a certain man she's never met before) should be in bed with him in the first chapter or not at all. She shouldn't need time to heal, get to know him and make a decision that will affect the rest of her life.

I have one question... There are editors out there that would really BUY that? That would really WANT to buy it? If so, why? Do you know many people, rational people who aren't prone to making snap decisions that affect their entire lives, who would just jump in bed and decide to tie themselves chemically to a stranger?

Now, there is every possibility that this isn't really what they teach people, and the individuals I have to deal with like to make up fictitious stories to support a certain mindset and think using the RWA or SFWA name to do it will carry weight. It doesn't with me, and I have to wonder whether they might actually teach these things; otherwise, I am meeting a whole lot of people telling the same lies. That seems unlikely.

I considered going to an RWA meeting once. I am not so certain that missing it was a huge loss, now. Why? I was told that the person who invited me wanted me there BECAUSE I am president of EPIC. Okay...on the way there, she told me that I get to introduce myself and then not say another word throughout the meeting, because I'm not a member. Well, that certainly defeats the purpose of me attending, doesn't it? How am I supposed to affect anything with my mouth glued shut (and those of you who know me know how difficult THAT is for me, to begin with) on anything but my name and credits? Looking pretty?

Oh, maybe I was supposed to hobnob with people after the presentation of the day and the Q&A for that, if there was any time left. And, that's how it was presented to me...if there was any time left. This doesn't bode well for welcoming new prospective members into the fold, but that's just my opinion on the matter.

I just cannot understand how anyone thinks the high school clique, backbiting running of these organizations can possibly apply to the world as a whole. When they ignore the growth markets, they prove themselves nothing more than a good-old-boys/girls club that has no bearing on writing life as it exists today.

Just my two pence on the matter.

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