Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Joining In



Until now, I’ve mostly belonged to RWA’s online chapters. They’ve fit my lifestyle. Right from my computer conversation about specialized topics. At one point or the other, I've belonged to four different chapters and they've all been beneficial and supportive in their own way. But recently I've considered joining a local chapter.

The drive to either of the RWA chapters in my area (Valley Forge or NJ RWA) has been an obstacle, though. Both chapters are about an hour away and they’re not just an hour on straight, deserted roads.  This is an hour either through Philly or up the NJ Turnpike (ie, where the folks drive fierce and scare the bejeezus out of me). 

I’ve gone to NJ RWA’s conference in the past—wonderful—but I've shied away from joining. But, it would be cool to have a little face time with other writers. 

I’ve begun to wonder if it isn’t the difference between doing Weight Watchers online and attending the meetings.  I mean, you can do it online.  There are forums, plenty of other folks out there walking the walk with you.  But, I wonder if having the support of a group of people you see face to face, register their smiles, might help even more.

I’d probably join NJ RWA, because driving through Philly scares me more than driving up the turnpike (not by a lot).  But it is an hour there and back.  That’s a long day.

So, I wanted to ask you girls.  Those of you who belong to a local chapter, what have you found are the greatest benefits?  Any drawbacks you’d care to mention? If you haven't joined a local chapter, why? 

23 comments:

Terri Osburn said...

I used to belong the local chapter but found after a couple of years it didn't fit my personality. (NOT their fault. I'm a tough fit personality-wise. I'm still amazed y'all keep me around here.) So I went without a chapter for a few years then joined one about 90 minutes away last year.

I do like belonging to the chapter and they have a very active and diverse membership. I don't go to meetings often (see the 90 minute thing above) but it's nice to know I can. And I'm fortunate that there are four other ladies down here by me who also belong and I can carpool with. Know any writers closer to you that could do the carpool thing?

(Aside, I drove that turnpike to attend the NJRWA conf back in 2007 and would like to never have to do that again!) (The turnpike, not the conference.)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I don't belong to RWA so I'm also not a member of a local chapter...but I would love to be.

I've attended 2 different chapter meetings - each was VERY different. I think I could get something from both chapters.

Although I cannot stress enough how much online writer relationships and support mean to me, I believe I would really benefit from finding someone to meet with on a regular basis to talk writing with, maybe share pages and feedback and just general support. It's hard to find those personal connections in real life without going to a local chapter.

I am lucky though - I have 1 chapter 20 minutes from my house, 1 30-45 minutes and another 2-3 chapters about 2-3 hours from my house. The awesome pool of super lucky future Sabrina writing buddies is right there for me to pick from! ROFL!

Terri Osburn said...

Go get 'em, Scape!

MsHellion said...

My local chapter is in St. Louis, which is about 1.5 hours away, if the roads are dry, the traffic is light, and I'm sorta speeding. Yes, it does make a long day. And I couldn't do the critique group stuff during the week because it was too far away and I had to be up way early in the morning. BUT I did really enjoy the face-to-face stuff. I have to say that face-to-face is actually more beneficial to me. Sometimes. Again, it's going to depend on who you're with, but with a large chapter group, the likelihood is you would fit right in and enjoy it very much. Finding more of your tribe and all that.

On the downside, they'll try to hook you for EVERYTHING. You'll be nominated for every stupid group you can think of. And made to feel guilty if you don't do them.

MsHellion said...

Although I cannot stress enough how much online writer relationships and support mean to me, I believe I would really benefit from finding someone to meet with on a regular basis to talk writing with, maybe share pages and feedback and just general support. It's hard to find those personal connections in real life without going to a local chapter.

This is so true. I found a connection at my local chapter, so even after I didn't rejoin, me and this writer would meet up at a spot between us (no longer 1.5 hour drives one way!) and share pages and stuff. I liked these meetings much better than the chapter ones. But I agree: hard to meet people like this if they're not already belonging to a chapter.

P. Kirby said...

I would really love to have more face time with writers. A while back, I joined a local writer's group, but only went to a few meetings for the reasons you detailed above. Basically, I live in a semi-rural village on the outskirts of Albuquerque. It's lovely. Quiet, safe, loads of trails for running, biking.

The downside is that I'm like an hour away from anything interesting, where interesting usually takes place in Albuquerque's NE heights and beyond. It's just so fecking hard to drag my ass out of the house at the end of the day.

Not sure what the solution is, short of moving.

Terri Osburn said...

We're just going to have to all come live with you, Pat. How would the pooch feel about new friends?

Marnee Bailey said...

Ter - The driving is a little rough but that would be fine if it wasn't tacked onto a 1+ hr time. (PS, if you come to the conference this year, I'll drive up from my place. You can close your eyes and pretend you're on a beach.)

I keep thinking I wouldn't have to go to the meetings every month. And I'd imagine there are some of the members who live further south like I do. So if I could make friends and then meet outside of the meetings....

Scape - That is a lot of chapters close by. *jealous* I mean, I have NYC if I wanted to hop on a train and wait an hour or so. But, that's a big commute too.

And It's hard to find those personal connections in real life without going to a local chapter this is soooo true. That's what I've been thinking anyway.

Hells - 1.5 hours is a long drive for sure. Especially if the weather is rough. And what you said about meeting somewhere else with someone you met... that's kind of what I'm hoping for.

Face time.

MsHellion said...

Ooh, I would love to live near the Jihad Pony! That would be exciting! Yes, let's move near to Pat. And I could fawn over His Highness as well...if he didn't have a nervous breakdown from all the new people.

Marnee Bailey said...

Pat - where you live sounds like heaven to me. I live 10 miles from Philadelphia. There's no shortage of people around here.

I've been craving going somewhere quiet for the past few months. Maybe I need to talk Mr. Gunner into a trip to the poconos.

P. Kirby said...

Man, I'd love to have some cool writing peeps living nearby. The Wonder Horse would love the attention. The dog, however, would be a nervous wreck.

Maureen said...

My tiny local chapter...well, it's interesting. I enjoy the meetings, but once I was roped into being VP - one year, then the Pres resigned and I inherited that and this year I was elected Pres... It is a lot of work. Even when there are only 15 members who show up regularly.

We set goals, celebrate successes, mourn the rough stuff...and have lunch after the meeting. And now and then have a fabulous guest, as there are bigger chapters not far away.

I've joined online chapters and got absolutely zip from them. Too easy to ignore, honestly. You can't ignore a meeting with people.

Being an officer of my local has honed my talent for the theatre and standing in front of people. And helped me learn how to cheerlead, and stand up for myself.

I'm also hoping I'm using up all my 'make a fool of myself' options so they are gone before I find myself standing in front of a big crowd.

As for making me a better writer...I seldom take part in the share pages stuff. What I write is too bug out there.

Is it worth it for you? I'd do it meeting by meeting. See what the topics are, if they have a guest that interests you and pick and choose when you go. If you connect up with someone you can work one-on-one with, huzzuh!

I haven't, but I have met several writers who I like to meet with and talk writing...

Maureen said...

Oh, and I love New Mexico! Let's go!

Marnee Bailey said...

Maybe that's how I have to approach it, Mo. Go when I'm interested and just assume some months I'm going to miss it. Especially as the eldest is in sports now and some weekends he's going to be busy and I hate missing that stuff.

PS, go you, Ms. Presidente.

Maureen said...

If you saw me, holding court over our mishmash group... *snort!

I try to entertain... I argue with our resident copy editor, harass my VP for confidence issues... Threaten them with walking the plank...

Try to remember our schedule...

But yeah, look at the meetings and attend a few to see if they are something you want to make the trip for. Take the pressure off yourself to make every meeting. That is a big drive and you get real weather out there on the East Coast, so don't stress yourself out with constant idea that you HAVE to GO!

Terri Osburn said...

Most chapters will welcome you to a "try out" meeting before you join. Would be good to see if it feels like a place for you.

Maureen said...

And a lot of chapters charge per meeting, so keep that in mind when it comes to budget considerations.

Haleigh said...

I've been thinking about this too. I don't have a local RWA chapter, but I could go to the DC one (2 hours each way) and both Philadelphia and the Chesapeake group are about 2.5 hours away. But the face time would be amazing. I was in school for writing for a couple years, and the part I miss the most is the time being surrounded by other writers.

There is a local writing group here, and I had emailed the President about joining, but they're not welcoming to genre authors (boo).

Terri Osburn said...

You know, Hal, I'm willing to drive up that way. We need to find a mid-way point somewhere.

Haleigh said...

Oh Ter, that would be awesome! Surely there's something on the Eastern Shore of VA that would be a good place to meet. A diner at least :) (I've been listening to a lot of Jack Reacher novels in the car recently, so I'm now all about diners)

Haleigh said...

Marn, I am not big on that turnpike either. I drive through DC with no qualms but there's something about Jersey drivers . . . :)

Terri Osburn said...

I love diners!

Di R said...

Sorry, I'm late.

I belong to my local chapter, last year I volunteered to be the online workshop moderator. This year I'm also the treaurer, because no one else would run. Our meetings are generally within an hour drive and I carpool with a couple of friends. Lunch after is always fun.

I generally miss a couple of meetings in the fall. My son runs CC, and I won't miss his meets. This year he's running track, so depending on his schedule, I may miss one or two this spring.

Di