Monday, December 19, 2016

Y do I volunteer?

Ana muses about volunteering in writers groups

I live in a rural area where most out-in-the-open writers look down on romances. Don't get me wrong. They are lovely people who write passionate poems and short stories about lakes and bears, farming and fishing, freezing winters and chemotherapy.
I volunteer as a acquiring editor for their annual anthology. I proofread the layout. I buy several copies. Sometimes I enter.
I'm sure there are a few romance writers hiding in the woods, but they seem to be traumatized. I haven't been able to lure any out into the sun to form an in-person group.

So I joined From the Heart Romance Writers, an online RWA group. I signed up eagerly for their critique loop, and then lurked until I worked up the courage to critique some subs. I offered feedback for others and slowly learned what POV meant. Finally I subbed a WIP chapter. And another.

To my surprise, a year later I was asked to moderate the critique loop. I agreed. (I'm still the loop moderator, and I still critique every sub. I can see how much my writing skills have improved, and I still get great feedback on my chapters. It's a win-win.)

I was added to the board of directors loop. When term limits mandated that new volunteers should step up, I offered to serve as secretary. I shouldn't have been surprised when the position ran unopposed. Getting volunteers is hard.

I served as secretary for two years, and then RWA revised their By-laws so chapter term limits rebooted. I served as secretary again. Then the chapter needed someone to run for President.  I raised my pinkie. The gavel fell.

2017 will be my second term as President. I ran again after extracting promises from the current board to serve a second term with me. On December 31, 2017, I 'll be term limited out. I'll still help with the Pages of the Heart contest. I'll still play in the crit loop in exchange for free line editing and deep POV advice.

I've made lifelong friends online. As far as I can tell, I've banked up more good karma than bad. I can foresee a day when I'll be too engrossed in deadlines to have time to volunteer a lot. This will be okay, too.


  1. Well done on all your volunteering - so glad you've enjoyed it and also gained friends. Unfortunately, too often these days volunteers workers are taken for granted by many people.

  2. Thank you, Paula.
    There are a few thankless days.

  3. Volunteering is a great way to meet people with similar interests. Although writing can be a lonely pursuit, you don't need "in-person" groups if you can find successful ones online, like you have.

  4. I don't attend my local meetings anymore, but in my time I served as secretary, president, and manuscript chair at various times.

    In non-writing related things, I am on the board of directors of our local Historical Society and serves as the executive secretary.

    Sometimes I grumble about the time it takes to complete my tasks, but all in all I do enjoy being able to help out in those ways.

    1. Oh, I bet your Historical Society work is very rewarding, Debra. But always a scramble for funds to keep things maintained.

  5. Well done. You must be worth your weight in gold to the group, not only for your willingness but for your experience. I hope 2017 is as successful and enjoyable for you.

    1. Thank you, Carol!
      I hear you have a submission ready to submit to Rebecca.
      Congratulations! Let's both get published in 2017.