See…this bamboo once lived in my office. My writing office. My office I have been avoiding for the last 8 months.
Other things I have avoided the last 8 months...
~ all my friends (online and IRL)
~ my writing (haven't touched a manuscript since April)
~ social media
~ paying my bills
~ doing my hair, or even brushing it
Back near the beginning of the year, I injured my back at work and was effectively a walking zombie. Thankfully my local RWA chapter let me step down from the role I had accepted with a lot more grace than I probably deserved.
Because when I walked out of my last RWA meeting, I didn’t intend to go back.
I was going to have a lot to say about how I had mentally imploded this past year and what I was going to try and do to tear myself out of it. I had it all planned in my head. I was going to login to Twitter first. Tell people I was going to go live on Facebook, and then get online and just talk.
However, I decided to do this on Christmas Eve. Well, turns out RWA decided to take a ride on the WTFery Express that very same day.
As a pro lurker, I always "read the room" before I talk. I had cocooned myself into a tight ball of YouTube and Shelly Laurenston re-reads. I probably re-read her Mangus Pack, Pride, and Badger series, three times this year. That woman's books offered me so much comfort, that I have no way to repay her. Anyway, I knew better than to jump in to any online forum without seeing what else was going on. What I saw had my jaw on the floor.
Check out various hashtags like #IStandWithCourtney and #RWAShitshow for some current information, because even as I write this shit is changing. I'm not up to date, but this is where the majority of the information is flowing through, and where a lot of people are organizing.
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books put out a great article on the goings on, with links to the official filings.
@RomancingNope has a great thread on the goings on.
At this point, my RWA membership has long since lapsed, and so had my local chapter membership.
I am not about to come on this dusty blog and say I dropped my membership as soon as I learned what had gone on. I was already gone, but I can say I'm not surprised. Because if I had learned anything through my time in RWA, it was that the organization was about fitting in and doing things the "right" way.
I'm a white woman. I never experienced anything close to the brush aside that many authors of color had. I also came to RWA as a PAN (Paid Authors Network) member. So I had some legs to stand on. My first book released through Samhain Publishing (RIP) earned just enough to skate into the title.
Here's the main reason I struggled in RWA... I am not wealthy. I am not financially secure. And I felt every bit the poor schlub during each and every “opportunity” RWA afforded me.
I work a part time job, because daycare erased enough of my salary as a general manager that I would have taken a paycut if I had stayed where I was after my third child was born.
That’s right. Third. I am a momma. Have been for over fifteen years now. And let me tell you, horror stories have nothing on the thought of turning the boychild loose behind the wheel. I made a decision early on that I would not publicly post about my kids. But I did myself a disservice by segmenting that part of myself. And I'm going to stop that going into this new year.
When my kids were younger, nap time meant writing time. I had an easy schedule and aside from a few quirks that come from two of my kids dancing on the autism spectrum, there were only a few days I had to shut all the chairs in another room to save some of the furniture from a determined and impressively strong 2 year old and his tantrum.
When I started writing, it was an escape from talking about Thomas the Train, and getting to imagine a world where I played with sexy, confident, and fun characters.
I was blessed to get in with a few amazing women whose books I loved, and they took me under their wing. They gave me a boost, and I published my first books.
Those books didn't take off. And when Samhain Publishing went under, the meager checks that had been paying for my self-published work, and giveaways, evaporated.
There was no money coming in. I figured it was a hiccup, and I threw myself into RWA. There were a lot of successful women in my local chapter.
Surely I'd find advice to get where I wanted to be if I just took these classes...
If I just bought this book that my chaptermates recommended...
If I just went to this conference...
If I just went out to dinner with these people...
If I just entered this contest...
Do you see the problem with this plan I was working on? Everything cost money. I skrimped and saved. I haven't bought clothes from anywhere but a thrift store in over five years. "A Meal Out" for our family treat is McDonalds. We are splurging if we grab crazy bread with our Little Caesars.
The credit card debt started to climb as my kids found their own passions. Surely, I'll start making money again. I just needed to do this one more thing. Right?!?!
But the money never came in. My chapter was nice, but I kept getting the impression that everyone expected me to do more. Surely someone can provide snacks for the group. Surely someone can donate their time. Surely someone is able to take our guest out to dinner.
My last year at RWA I took advantage of the "Perseverance Fund". This is a fund where you get to write a stranger and tell them you don't have money. It's super fun.
In my real life the bills started to pile, and the debt collectors started ringing my phone. I was in over my head. Way over my head. So I hid.
To the people I roped into writing with me...I have no excuse. I am so incredibly sorry I abandoned all of you. I put a message in our group.
Working my way out of the hole I was in both mentally and financially took everything I had in me, and I couldn't open anything involving this part of my life. I finally had to admit that I screwed up, and apologize. So that's what I'm working on now.
I'm not going to say I know what I'm doing anymore, because I obviously don't. What I am going to say, is that RWA didn't work for me, and I felt like a huge fucking failure for having all the support I did, and not making it.
What am I going to do in 2020?
I'm going to survive.
I'm going to rediscover my joy in both reading and writing.
I'm going to try and tell you about it in this blog.
For a good while, I wrote here everyday. It's not "RoxyRocksMe.com" anymore, because someone bought my domain out from under me when it lapsed. I'm working on updating my social media to reflect that. I'll try and buy back the other domain if the money comes in to do so. Otherwise...it's just my name now.
And that's kind of fitting for where I'm at mentally. I'm just me. I'm not an expert, I'm just trying the best I can, and trying to share what I love and what works.
If you're willing to follow along with me, I'd love to have you.
Here's to 2020. Let's see what happens.