I've never been pro-RWA, although I've often been neutral. When you add up the numbers: 750,000 in dues, 60,000 for the GH, 60,000 for the Rita, 850,000 for 2000 conference fees. And the people. You're talking a lot of money and influence.
Romance Sells. Half the New York Time bestsellers and most of the mid-list belong. As the organization grew, so did the writers. RWA is the biggest professional writer's organization in the world--nine times bigger than SFWA. The last few years have been hard; with e-pubs, digital publishing, Horizon and Change, and what used to be fresh became stodgy. I thought we'd schism, but nobody pushes revolution on deadline.
I got sucked into this last conference and it finally clicked. Maybe it just takes me a really long time. It's not the organization, like the Grinch says, "It's something more." Something intangible that only happens when you get three thousand women--chapter mates, on-line friends and crit groups--together in one place at the same time. It's energy to the millionth power, serendipity, and belonging. It's standing in the elevator talking to people whose names you've only seen on the covers of books, sharing a shuttle with a rising star in cutoffs and a tank top, big name editors who give out five minutes of critique for no reason and agents willing to talk about the shift to informal language because you asked. And seeing the same people over and over again, because they believe in the same things you do.
We all have common ground, and whether we're hardcore RWA, part of Change, or virtual personalities in our on-line chapter, RWA exists because for four days a year--somewhere in the country--we don't have to be alone.