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.
What a lovely tribute to all the MMRWA Angels, and this year we are privileged to have you as one.
It’s been a privilege to be included in the chapter, and even more as an Angel!
What a nice “speech.” You know I couldn’t have been happier or more proud of you! And the fact that I got to give you the award this year made it even more special to me. Hugs.
Anne, having you present it to me made it all the more sweeter! And, ah, did I get snot on you? Pretty sure I was shaking!
Alyssa, what a beautiful “speech” You deserve the Angel Award. You’ve truly been an “angel” to our chapter. You served as president during a difficult transition period and navigated us through RWA’s new rules–all while doing all the required steps in getting your first book published. (That book, btw, became a RITA finalist. We love having you in our chapter. I love comparing notes on your son & my grandson. 🙂
It was a privilege to serve as President, even with the rough transition period! And I’m er, looking forward to taking over from you as Treasurer, too!
Beautiful. Yes, it’s a tribe, a place to belong, and it’s that connection that pushes, prods and pulls you to your destination. So glad you found your place in the writing world. Congratulations!
Being a part of MMRWA has made me a better writer and has pushed me to make my dream a reality. I couldn’t ask for a better tribe!
Awww, so you deserved the award! And, what a beautiful blog talking about our group. 🙂 Hugs.
MMRWA has meant so much to me over the years! It’s truly full of my peeps!
What a wonderful “speech.” I’m so happy to be a part of this wonderful group!
And we’re happy you’ve joined the group! MMRWA is truly a group of Angels!
Your award is so well deserved, Alyssa! Giving back is the reward for the support of such a wonderful chapter, and we’re lucky to have had that chance. Well done, Sister Angel!!
Beautiful post, Alyssa! Brought tears to my old eyes because it reminded me what a wonderful group of women we have in our Mid-Michigan Chapter of RWA. We are blessed in many ways. You are one of the blessings.
What a lovely post, Alyssa! You so deserve the Angel Award, not only because of all you contribute to MMRWA, but because of the positive, supportive energy you bring. I agree with all you say about the women who surround us with warmth, acceptance, encouragement and celebration.