Romance Writers of Australia v Romance writers of America
So, recently a friend of mine asked me why I had joined Romance Writers of Australia instead of the American chapter.
It was a good question, after all I am American.
But there are a few reasons I chose Australia:
We live in South East Asia
Half of my family is Australian
So let me elaborate on those points.
Living in Indonesia, Australia is clearly closer and means less travelling and thus time away from my family, and also practically no jet lag.
My husband and our youngest are Australian, both born in the same country town hospital. They even shared the same Moses basket (not at the same time), which makes me happy. A bit of tradition never hurt anyone. So going to Australia also meant that I was giving them a nod. After all I wouldn’t have embarked on this journey without my husband’s unflagging support and my kids being tolerant of their crazy mom busy writing instead of playing.
And finally the most important one was the size. Yes it’s a smaller version than the US one but that’s what appealed to me the most, I didn’t want to be just a number. Once I joined RWAus I was welcomed by several volunteers. There was a committee for aspiring writers, one for first-time conference attendees, etc... The personal care was amazing, there’s a FB page I could like and meet other newbies like myself, getting to know one another online, meant that by the time we did meet at the conference it felt like seeing old friends, and I wasn’t as scared as I could be. (I was still scared). The FB page’s admins we’re amazing, answering all questions and calming jittery nerves, and when we arrived at the conference, they wrangled all us newcomers so we could meet each other first. Throughout the conference there was a dedicated area for us first-timers where we could go for help or sometimes just a hug or word of encouragement.
The size of the conference meant that with 400 delegates most of us got to talk to one another, and let me tell you having established writers and well known industry people (from agents to publishers to best-selling authors) coming up to you just for a chat is mind-blowing. I don’t think I’d have had that kind of interaction at a bigger conference.
Also, I REALLY got to know the first-timers and it means that I now have AMAZING friends for life. It’s great to know there are others out there.
I can’t speak for the American version, but in Australia it is TRULY a sisterhood (and brotherhood), without ego or politics. EVERYONE wants you to do well and in that respect, advice is freely given, help is always on hand and the support is incredible.
And what have I discovered since I joined? Romance Writers of Australia was the smartest decision I ever made, well aside from marrying a man who would support my dreams no matter how tenuous they are.