I would like to make a “speech”, a little late because I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say. But it is no less heartfelt for it.
A few weekends ago I attended the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America Chapter’s annual Retreat From Harsh Reality. It’s a weekend of writing, camaraderie, learning and fun. Every year, the members nominate one person who has gone above and beyond in their service to the Chapter.
This year, it was me.
Thank you for the Angel Award. I’m humbled, honored and so very happy to receive it and be among the Angels.
MMRWA has meant so much to me over these last nine years. I wouldn’t be who I am without it—and that’s a writer. I’d always wanted to write and the biggest step—the biggest hurdle—was acknowledging to someone other than my husband that it was my dream. It was one of those things I kept close to my heart because I was afraid if I said it out loud, it would be real. And if it was real, then I had to do something about it.
But I finally couldn’t NOT be a writer. So I joined MMRWA. I came to a meeting, terrified I’d be thrown out because I didn’t know what I was doing.
Please note, I still don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just better at faking it.
But I found my people that day. And they were warm, kind, and didn’t throw me out. In fact, the first meeting I went to was a critique. Margo Hoornstra’s advice that day still rings in my mind every time I start a book. Sometimes you have to write some pages just to get into the character’s head, and then the story can start. That’s close to verbatim, though it’s been nine years since she said it.
Before MMRWA I thought I was slightly crazy to hear voices in my head. When I discovered other people did too—and they weren’t the crazy schizophrenic kind of voices—I finally felt normal. Writers have stories to tell and people to tell them about. Sometimes it’s the plot that sings, and sometimes the characters. Either way, I discovered I was not alone in wanting to tell stories.
In the end, I found a group of women who love romance. Who love the adventure of writing. Who love the crazy of writing. And they let me in. Or, you know, maybe I pushed my way in. Because I’m me, and I’m loud, I laugh a lot and I have much to say.
So I started to love the organization. And then I volunteered for a committee. And then I was a newsletter editor. Then I started being more involved. Then more. And suddenly I was President. (Who the hell voted for this idiot, anyway?!?!?)
And then I sold. It was thrilling and wonderful and amazing, and the ladies of MMRWA celebrated with me. I entered the wild and woolly world of publishing. I was editing, writing a new book, holding down a family, a full-time job, a Presidency, a deadline, setting up my website, joining another local writing group. I couldn’t tell when I was coming and when I was going.
MMRWA was always a safe haven. A place where women understood.
That cannot be measured with any cup or bowl or device we humans have developed. Friendship and encouragement simply are. Without boundaries. Oh, I’m sure I’m annoying as all hell when I really get going. But they never kicked me out.
For that, I will always be grateful.
But they did one more thing. They gave me an Angel Award. Members nominated me. Previous Angels approved it.
I don’t work for the Chapter for recognition. I do it because I love it. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes time away from writing. But I wouldn’t be a writer without the ladies of MMRWA. So this is my way to give back to a group that gave to me.
I did not give MMRWA an Angel.
I have been gifted with Angels.