Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Extrovert's Advice for an Introverted Profession: Join an organization

Morning my friends. I don't know about you, but I'm at the point of summer where I want it to stretch infinitely. Typically when mid-August hits, I am all about the return to school. But now I simply want summer to extend itself as far as it can. I'm not ready to embrace cool temps and pumpkin spice. Not during a pandemic. Not if Halloween is cancelled, which it probably will be. Not if it's too cold to social distance outside, which hits early in NEPA. I'd consider a move to a warm-weather state but that comes with its own special host of problems. I think I gotta learn to snowboard or something.


Anyhoo, not sure if you could tell from my posts, but I am an extrovert. A full-fledged, card-carrying member of Outgoing Not-Anonymous. I like to talk. I like to talk a lot. And I need people. I need people to bounce ideas off of, to tell stories to, to be around. I gain my energy from others. When I'm alone too often (which isn't easy to be with three kids), I wilt. And writers are naturally alone a lot. And that might fly well if you're an introvert--someone who needs solitude to recharge. 

But, again, I am not that person.

And if you're also not that person, and lockdown has got you let down, might I suggest joining a club that will have you as a member.

I am a member of Sisters In Crime, a mystery writing organization founded in the mid-1980s by V.I. Warshawski author Sara Paretsky so that female authors could have equal representation and advocacy in the then mostly male-dominated crime fiction genre. SinC is still making sure that women authors are receiving their fair due in terms of coverage and book reviews, but they also offer webinars, education grants, lectures, and resources. There are also many regional chapters where writers get together monthly for discussions, lectures, and community. Unfortunately, the Poconos doesn't have a chapter, but give me time. 

SinC is so welcoming, and unlike some other groups it doesn't make you feel other by offering different membership tiers based on your publishing status. There are indie, trad-published, and querying authors all working toward their goals of making dents in publishing. And helping each other to boot.

Although I've been a dues-paying member for years, I recently decided to volunteer. A friend suggested that I email the SinC president and ask if there was anything I could do to help. And, at first, I was hesitant. Despite loving to talk, I also worry that I am annoying people. But also who doesn't want help? Turns out there was a special project I could do, and put my librarian skills to the test, by assessing the archives. 

And you know what?

This small project has made a world of difference to my author headspace. By joining a group of like-genre writers, I am feeling community, and thus, not feeling so lonely. I'm contributing to the profession while also connecting with others. And I've stopped focusing on myself and my email inbox. 

Writing doesn't have to be solitary for extroverts. And while the #writingcommunity on Twitter is a great place to connect, it may not provide enough sustenance for those of us who need all the benefits of a well-established writing organization. 

Whether you write romance, westerns, fantasy, historical fiction, there is a group for you. Start with the big ones--for example, SinC, Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Historical Writers of America--and evaluate the cost of their dues with their opportunities to connect. Do they do virtual lectures? Do they host an annual conference? Do they offer mentorship? Are there local chapters or small sub-groups that fit your needs? 

Maybe a big organization isn't a good fit. Are there smaller clubs in your genre that you could join? Or a regional writing group that performs much of the same functions as the bigger groups but for writers of all genres and levels? 

Think big and then narrow down your options. 

I'm sure a lot of us belong to Facebook groups within our respective genres, but by contributing and volunteering in these organizations, we're not just rounding out our writing careers. We can institute change in our fields. We can support marginalized authors. We can embrace new opportunities. We can participate in things that are bigger than ourselves. Bigger than hashtags or social media posts.

Do you belong to a writer organization? Let us know which one in the comments.

No comments:

Blogger Template by Designer Blogs