By Mindy Neff
Recently, all of us on the OCC/RWA board took some much needed time for ourselves. We kissed our dear hubbies, kids and beloved pets and went on a weekend retreat. This wasnâ€™t a chapter sponsored kind of thing. We simply met at a board memberâ€™s house, we all brought food, drinks, enthusiasm and sleeping bags–although they werenâ€™t really needed since there were plenty of beds and couches to go around. It was a two day slumber party of brainstorming ideas for OCC, laughter, food and bonding with each other. Do you know, I donâ€™t think there was a single lull in our conversation, from early morning, clear through until the wee hours of the next morning and then the next. We didnâ€™t get much sleep, but we sure had a great time.
One of the things we did was that we each took turns sharing our goals for the year–personal goals, writing goals, and chapter goals. I truly feel that if you state your goals out loud to someone else–and write them down–youâ€™ll accomplish them. It has to do with the positive statement youâ€™re telling your subconscious mind. One of mine and Sandyâ€™s goals for the chapter and board members is to have fun. To infuse our membership with as much enthusiasm as the members of our board have. Itâ€™s an awesome feeling when this group of highly intelligent women get together. The innovative ideas just keep coming. And the best part is, no one hesitates to step up the to plate to implement the ideas. Itâ€™s truly awesome. And so is being Co-President of OCC.
The sheer number of members in our chapter makes an impressive statement. The number of published authors we have, and the excellent talent of our aspiring members is extraordinary–yes, Iâ€™ve read your work in contests and critiques, and there is a lot of high quality talent among our members! We want to give you all as many opportunities as we can think of to hone your craft, to get your work before the professionals who can see its worth and buy it, to help you find the courage to send out that work to the professionals who can buy it.
We also want to promote our published authors, keep their names up in lights so to speak. When youâ€™re under deadline hell and forget to send out a mailing to booksellers, rest assured that our stunning newsletter is going out to bookstores around the country with your book covers, your names and your wonderful articles keeping you in the spotlight even when youâ€™re huddled alone over a computer in your office, sweating over each word of your next award winning novel.
And speaking of the solitary nature of our chosen profession, our OCC monthly meeting, and our published authorâ€™s workshop (under the leadership of Maureen Child) is the perfect place to come when you need a break, when you need the companionship of other authors. I know itâ€™s easy to say–â€œI canâ€™t make it to the meeting today. Iâ€™m under deadline.â€ Or, â€œIâ€™m too tired after working all week.â€ But believe me, those four hours we spend together on our meeting days, chatting in PAW, networking over lunch, and during the morning and afternoon speakers, are so inspiring. Just the shot in the arm we need to go back to our computers refreshed, with a new spark to our fingertips and fresh ideas filling our creative wells.
A lot of you know that Iâ€™ve been experiencing a bit of burn out in writing lately. Itâ€™s such a scary thing to have happen, especially when youâ€™re still under contract and need to turn in a book. I went from a 20 page a day writer, down to zip. I was lucky if I could get a decent paragraph, or a decent page. The more I heaped guilt upon my head, the harder it got. And then, because I agreed to be a Co-President of our OCC chapter, the monthly meetings would roll around and I couldnâ€™t use an excuse not to show up. I was expected to be there. And gosh am I glad of that obligation.
Each month there are over a hundred dedicated writers sitting out there in the audience, writers in every stage of their careers, from brand new to seasoned with eighty books or more under their belt. And these authors all share one thing in common. They understand the emotions of other writers. Do you know how comforting it is to be in a group like that? No one tells you that youâ€™re washed up because you canâ€™t think of enough words to fill a page, let alone twenty. They donâ€™t say that clearly youâ€™re no longer a writer. They simply give you a hug, tell you that youâ€™re wonderful and that youâ€™ll get past it. And they always ask, â€œCan I do anything to help you?â€
Thatâ€™s the spirit of one hand reaching forward and one hand reaching back. Whether youâ€™re just starting out, or have sold 27 books, as I have, we all need that hand. We all need that enthusiasm that this 2006 board and our fabulous members are spreading.
Come join us at our meeting. Take that time for yourself. You deserve it.
Winner of the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and Reviewers Choice Award.