Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Watchful Eye


When I first began writing, I joined a local romance writers’ group. I was hopeful, excited, and willing to help. I merged right in with new ideas and hard work. Unfortunately, members of the board were insecure. It didn’t take long to realize that one particular person was not only taking my ideas as her own but taking credit for all my hard work. I wanted to believe that it didn’t matter who got the credit as long as the group benefited. However, I grew weary of hearing back my own ideas under someone else’s name.

I waited a number of years before I dared join a writing group again. I thought time and maturity would be on my side. Again, I pitched in with hard work and innovative ideas to make the experience fun for the authors. During my few short years with the group, I experienced even more frustration. This was just before the wave of self-publication and the disbandment of the major publishing houses and bookstores.

I had signed with a small publishing house and was extremely excited. However, key people in the group felt that if you didn’t publish with one of the big houses, you were a nobody. Every time the issue came up, they looked down their long, upturned noses at me. Their distain was palpable. Backstabbing was rampant with the group. I was a board member but left out of meetings. All I wanted to do was help other authors and share that wonderful, creative feeling of being connected to your characters that only other authors can understand. Instead, I was persecuted publicly by one of the key people and others followed.

She eventually admitted “privately” that she had been wrong and that she had emotional issues, but the damage was done and there was no public apology for the rest of the writers to understand what had happened.

I left the group, feeling that I didn’t want to spend my time on emotional upsets. I want to enjoy writing.

I mustered up what courage I had left and joined another writing group. This time, I chose a group that were both men and women, all ages, all writing genres. I assumed there wouldn’t be the “high school” mentality like with the other groups I’d joined.

The first year was awesome. I was asked to do presentations, and I learned a great deal from the other speakers. I even took on a board position again.

The dynamics of the group continued to change. I was no longer asked to speak. Authors wanted my editing skills and critiques, but only under the radar. Things I did weren’t recognized. 

On several occasions, I had the opportunity to state what genre I write to the group. I proudly stated that I am a sweet romantic suspense author. With this announcement came silence, downcast eyes, and then a look of dismissal. You could feel the rejection in the air.

Pardon me? Doesn’t my writing have merit? Don’t I have to follow the same rules as everyone else to construct a well thought out plot? Don’t I have to have in depth characterization, and spot-on grammar and punctuation? Don’t I have to have intriguing dialogue?

By the number of awards I’ve won and the number of books I’ve published (fourteen in total), you would think my abilities should hold some value to my colleagues. I thought we were equals and all working toward our writing goals.

I've tried to overcome my fears. Going to any group meeting heightens my senses and puts me on the defense. My mind is filled with confusion and racing thoughts. I can’t relax, and I hold myself back from the group. I’m looking—looking for that next snub. Will it be real or imagined? Am I overly sensitive? I want to believe that no matter what group I join, we are working together for the good of everyone... However, I always have a watchful eye.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at: http://www.dragonflyromance.com

Dog Photo Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

4 comments:

  1. I can totally empathize with you. I get the same look -- disdain, holier-than-thou, you-can't-possibly-be-a-REAL-writer -- because I write horror.

    Keep plugging away. You'll find a supportive group. Have you tried WANA (We Are Not Alone)? I hear they are fantastic. I need to check them out myself.

    Good luck, and HAPPY WRITING!

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    1. Thanks, Lisanne! I'll have to do some research.

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  2. I am so sorry you have experienced such negativity in the groups you have joined. Insecurity changes people, and our industry is one that oftentimes breeds insecurity.

    I helped out with a large online organization long ago and saw some members who would tear people down under the guise of giving critiques or forum advice "for their own good" to "help them develop thick skin" and it sickened me. That said, I have also seen tremendous good in the writing community, and it is what helps me move past bad experiences. I hope you will always stay open to the belief that there are good people out there, and you can find them and grow together. :) Overall, writers are wonderful people.

    Love your series! :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Angela! Knowing that there are good people out there is what motivates me to keep trying and keep writing.

      I love your books and was just thinking about my next project after I finish the Emotion Thesaurus. Any ideas? ;)

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