Open letter to all those whiners and complainers out there

July 23, 2007 | Karin's Blog | 29 comments

Shut. Up!

RWA and RWA National doesn’t work you, YOU work it. Don’t be a zombie, be a playah. Take what works, and believe me, if you are open minded there is a lot that works. Take advantage of the opportunities presented. Use what is available. Own it. Make the things happen that need to happen. For you. For your career. If they don’t? Dig deeper. Go back and try again. Don’t stop. Put yourself out there again, and again and again. But please, stop whining about how RWA doesn’t work for you, or how you get nothing out of it, or how you get no respect. Indeed, how the hell do you expect to get anything with all of that complaining? Take that negative energy, turn it inward, make it positive and get on with your writing.

*Note. We all know respect is earned not given. So don’t sit back and expect it. Work for it.

So please, give it a rest, ladies. I am so tired of hearing about how horrible RWA is. How they hate epubs. How erotic romance authors get no respect. How PAN snubs PRO. How PRO snubs PAN. How the conference should be this way or that way. How there should be a National conferences in other countries so those members can go to conference. Hello? Anyone notice the America part of Romance Writers of America? Hell, my good friend Michelle came from freakin’ South Africa to Dallas this year. She planned, she saved, she made it happen!

Get with the program.

If you feel like there is division, then in your mind there is. If your publisher isn’t RWA recognized, WTF does it matter? Are you writing for RWA recognition or are you writing the best story you can for the publisher you chose? Does a little nod from RWA make or break you? If it doesn’t, stop crying in your damn coffee and get back to the business at hand. If it does? Seek therapy.

*Note. Many of you are thinking, oh well that’s easy for her to say. It is. If RWA chose to unrecognize my two publishers, Simon & Schuster and Kensington Publishing, it would in no way affect what I get from RWA or how I do National. It certainly would have no bearing whatsoever on what I write, how I write, or my life as a writer.

Oh, and here’s a news flash. If you think National conference is only about landing an agent or editor. Wrong! If that is your sole reason to go you are not only selling yourself short but the conference as a whole short. There is so much more to National then the agents and editors. What about the fabulous workshops? The fabulous attendees (most are fab). What about bonding with like minds? What about making new friends, and visiting with old friends? And what about the bar? ????

Now. Is RWA perfect? No. Is conference perfect? No again. Is it bad? If it is for you then you have two choices: Run for a board position and make the changes from the inside out, or if you are not prepared to do that, quit. Because quite frankly, RWA is not for everyone. That goes for both sides of publishing. I have heard RWA called the Dark Side. The Evil Empire. The Moral Majority. The Whatever. There is bitterness from authors who feel snubbed and publishers who could do quite nicely without RWA. Bottom line, as I said, it isn’t for everyone. So be honest about that and deal with it accordingly.

Listen. If you walk around needing any person or any entity’s seal of approval you will be walking in a fog for a long time. Resentment builds. Anger flashes, and it handcuffs your creativity. Emancipate yourself. Dump that crap. Look hard at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you do the things you do. If it’s all about the craft, the writing the best book you can, then smile. Because if that is what drives you, then the other stuff doesn’t matter.

Okay, so, now that I have that off my chest, please return to your regularly scheduled whatever.



Ps. I believe I may have another mini rant in store for your reading pleasure later this week.


  1. tawny

    Gee, Karin… how do you really feel? LOL. Great post, excellent points. Its a shame to see so much energy and time focused on negatives, anger and bitterness. Just think how many books could be written with that same energy…

  2. Karin

    Exactly. and the kicker is, since this has been buggin’ me, my own writing has suffered today. But, I had to say what I had to say, and now? I’m zipping through my pages.

    Sometimes it’s good to puke up what’s buggin’ you.
    Now, don’t you have some writing to do?

  3. tawny

    Um…. I guess I’m done puking and should get to that, huh?

    glad your pages are zipping LOL

  4. Amanda

    I’m so tired of hearing the whining. If for nothing else, RWA has some great programs and it gets the chapters together. I have learned so much from being a member. Camraderie on the local and online level, workshops on any subject under the sun, and support at the National level. If anyone thinks it is so easy to run a National Conference, give it a try. Don’t be surprised when everyone is mad at you too. You don’t need RWA to tell you you are a writer, you don’t need your husband even, you just have to believe in yourself. RWA and my writing buddies have taught me that.

  5. Virna

    It was my first conference this year and I do believe there’s room for improvement. (Imo, tables at the welcome reception should be cleared out to encourage mingling.) That being said, this is an imperfect world and an imperfect business, and while I might vent to my friends in private, I’m careful about passing judgment too quickly or too harshly. For every blip in Dallas, there was an inspiring speaker or friendly face to make up for it. To me, professionalism means 1)carrying on despite bumps in the road and 2) making positive changes where you can.

  6. Lee

    RWA is a huge organzation, with good, bad, and yes the ugly, and far from perfect, but it does work and gives writers a lot of education on writing, publishers, and the industry in general. When I became President of a local chapter, another more experienced chapter president, gave me a little advise, “You’re always going to walk away wondering who you made mad this time. Don’t let it bother you, move ahead. Do what you think is best for the chapter.” I did often wonder who I pissed off, but frankly, if I did, it was for the good of the membership. I did my best. I like to think RWA is in the same situation. There is over 9,000 members, and usually the biggest whinners are the ones who run the other way, when it comes time to do any real work, like taking office, or running a committee. Its easier to just set back and complain instead of stepping up to the plate and really doing something to make the changes you feel need to be made. I haven’t always been happy with RWA, but in general I value my membership and association with them. I enjoyed the conference, I met with a agent, with good results, the rest is up to me. I went to several good workshops, applying what I learned is up to me. Gettng published is up to me. RWA only offers the tools inwhich to succeed, we just have to learn how to use them properly.
    When the new president took over our chapter, my piece of advice. “Don’t try to please everyone, and you will wonder who you pissed after every meeting. Its human nature.” My piece of advise now, live your dreams. RWA certainly isn’t standing your way, only you are.

  7. Karin

    Virna, agreed. Always room for improvement. And your POV on professionalism is right on.

    Lee said, “RWA certainly isn’t standing your way, only you are.” If you were here I would kiss you! Excellent line!!!! My next mini rant is along that vein. May I use that line as the title to my blog? Well, I might tweak it a bit to include a few other imagined things some people think are standing in their way.

    Again, though, fabo point, Lee!

  8. Edie

    Karin, thank you for saying so many of the things I’ve been thinking. Lately I’ve been using the delete key a lot.

    Glad you’re whipping those pages out, Karin. You go!

  9. Hubby

    When you are charged with resposibility and others are going to be affected by your decisions, you are going to piss other people off. You can’t please everyone and can only do that which you believe is best for the majority.

    This is true of organizations, governments, chapter presidents, Den mothers and even football coaches. If I had listened to all the “suggestions” parents have had over the years and worried about pleasing everyone I would have nutted up and eaten my gun. Okay, perhaps choked on a football. Be thankful these organizations exist and be grateful there are people willing to volunteer their time so you don’t have to.

  10. Karin

    Edie, since I posted this blog, I’ve had a half a dozen Amen! emails. I guess a lot of us have had our fill of the negative stuff.

    Honey, thank god you didn’t eat a football! Do you know how hard that would be to digest? And I don’t even want to think about afterwards.

  11. Amanda

    In my critique group we always say at the top of a critique, “take what works, toss the rest”. That’s what you need to do with any organization. Take what works for you, toss the rest aside, don’t let it affect you.

  12. Sherry Davis

    Hi, Karin. It was so nice to meet you and Tawny at the booksigning.

    I agree with all the great anti-whining comments. Though, let’s be honest, some people can’t go two minutes without finding something or someone to complain about. FWIW, I know RWA’s board did the absolute best job they could do, given the issue and the circumstance. You can’t make everyone happy. It’s not impossible, but it’s higly improbable.

    Just to add my $.02 worth: We don’t write for RWA. RWA is a tool to fascilitate our entry into the publishing industry.

    As such, why would it matter which publisher RWA chooses to “recognize” or make “eligible”? It’s our job to do the homework and make good choices (or live with the consequences).

  13. Karin

    Same here, Amanda.

    Sherry, some people just can’t help themselves. They must sling bs. In fact, while chatting with my crit group just now (if anyone asks I’m really writing), they brought to my attention another brouhaha going on elsewhere. I am so not going to look at that train wreck.
    so, the bunch of us started cutting jokes on each other and I have been laughing my butt off. so much better.
    and hey, my hat’s off to the RWA conference coordinator, and her staff.

  14. Karin

    sheesh where are my manners.
    Sherry, it was very nice meeting you too. And isn’t Tawny a cutie?

  15. Michelle

    LOLOL, did someone really suggest we have National in some other country? Which one? NZ? Oz? The three SA members of RWA might have a case for making South Africa a venue. LOLOLOLOL.

    Seriously, folks, I had a wonderful time. RWA National was what it was. I just went with the flow, did my own thing, networked, had fun and met some good agents and editors. But most importantly, I connected with the people who are in my writing corner and make my day a hell of a lot better every day with their funny, encouraging and insightful emails. It is all in the attitude.

  16. spyscribbler

    I hear your frustration, but RWA has problems. People need to whine and complain so that those problems will be fixed.

    RWA has wonderful, wonderful people in it. I can’t seem to figure out where all the close-mindedness and pettiness comes from, because everyone I’ve met (save one out of the hundreds) has been great to talk to. But 500+ messages on some cute outfits? The obsession with creating cliques?

    I am very disappointed.

    My conference experience was wonderful, though. I got everything I needed and wanted out of it. 🙂

  17. Karin

    Michelle, I’m very happy to hear your efforts were worth the trip. It’s a good thing.

  18. LaDonna

    Hey, Karin, great blog! And I agree. I get what I want outta RWA, and toss the rest. Negativity has always offended me in more ways than I can count. Thank God for people like you. Choose friends wisely, cause that’s what energy you’ll be wearing at the end of the day. LOL.

  19. Karin

    Granted, Spy, RWA does have problems, my beef is
    with those who create drama and blame RWA for their misery.

    you said, “But 500+ messages on some cute outfits? The obsession with creating cliques?”

    Not sure how you meant this. Are you angry at the pettiness of 500 plus emails to RWA about how certain authors dressed, or are you (as I) think it’s ridiculous to create the drama over a couple of authors trying to brand themselves?

    As for the obsession with creating cliques, again, not sure how to define your statement. Are you for or against cliques?

  20. spyscribbler

    LOL, I guess I shouldn’t post on three hours of sleep! Angry isn’t quite the right word. I’m stunned and disappointed in the judgmental attitude towards those authors who dressed cute, whether it was for branding or whatever. Big deal. A little disappointed and saddened that one of my personal heroes is … so close-minded.

    By cliques, I really meant dividing the organization. Yes, every single organization/guild/association has terms for membership. But I’ve yet to find one that divides the group like RWA and denies information to 70% – 80% of its members and income. If RWA wants to take unpubbed (or un-recognized pub) members’ money, then they should spread all information to all members.

    Finally, in all the organizations and associations I’ve been in, volunteered for, and even researched after all this hoopla, not a single one has either the dividing policy nor all the public drama. Frankly, a few cute outfits aren’t going to undermine the respect for the genre as much as all this insane, public pettiness over those three outfits.

    You’d think quitting would be a no-brainer, huh? But the people! The people I’ve met have been wonderful, and I’ve loved getting to know them. I think the potential for RWA is far above this … unpleasantness. The people in RWA are SO far above this drama.

    So I’m just left feeling deeply disappointed in the policies and politics of the organization. Yes, you’re never going to please everyone and every organization has its unsatisfied members. But it is possible for an organization to exist, even 9,000 members strong, without the extreme pettiness, drama, and division of RWA. There are many organizations that do, so it’s possible for RWA to be one.

    I’m torn between disappointment and hope, honestly. I don’t quit on my friends, no matter their baggage or drama, so I don’t think it’s right for me to quit on such a great group of people.

    (Sorry to go on so long, Karin! I tried to delete as much as I could while answering your questions!)

  21. Cele

    Karin, they chose you for a leader because you are inspiring. Don’t let the little thinkers and stinkers ruin what you can accomplish. Just challenge them to do it better themselves, next time.

  22. LaDonna

    Cele I love it…thinkers and stinkers. lol.

  23. Karin

    Ack!! Crazy life interuptus. Will be back later today to comment and post a new blog.

  24. Karin

    Cele, I didn’t organize National. OMG! That endeavor woudl kill me!

  25. Liz Kreger

    Excellent points, Karin. Vent away. You’re only saying what the majority is thinking. I must live in my own little world, because I didn’t hear any of the bitchin’ until I hit the loops when I got home. Then I was reading half of them with my mouth hanging open.

    RWA presents you with opportunity. What you do with it is up to you. You want to piss and moan? Go ahead. Just don’t do it around me. I’ve had nothing but good experiences since I’ve joined RWA and I wouldn’t trade the friendships I’ve made for the world.

  26. Gabrielle

    Are people SERIOUSLY talking about the conference being held in places apart from the US? Man, I wish they’d stop that–it’s a great excuse for me to come to the US (several times from Australia, and next year from France) and write it off on tax!

    And thanks for a great blog post. I’m with you. Take what you can use. And I’ve found a lot to use in RWA.

  27. Karin

    Yes, Gabrielle, they are. Now that said, come on over to San Fran next year!

  28. Carol


    I know this is a late post, but…AMEN!!

  29. Linda S.

    WOW! I’m sorry I missed this thread the first time. HAVE to add my two cents. RWA is ONE organization, just one of many that writers belong to. If RWA doesn’t recognize your publisher SO WHAT? The rest of the world does. I appreciate the National – in fact, I look forward to it every year. Not for the workshops – though there are some mighty great ones – but for being with my fellow writers, for meeting new people and learning from them and – dare I say it – having FUN! I know lots of epubbed authors and they could care less if RWA “recognizes” them or not – they are a published author no matter what. This last revision RWA DID recognize more Epubs – I’d say the field is opening – but what does it matter – would you NOT write for your publisher if it’s not RWA sanctioned?


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