Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Involved - A Way to Give Back, That Gives to You

This time of year there is much talk about being grateful.  Authors are grateful for their contracts, their agents, their critique partners, their long-suffering and patient families.  Readers are grateful for back to back releases, and extra time to be curled up with a favorite book.

Instead of focusing on the 'thanks' part of Thanksgiving, I want to talk about the 'giving'.  Last night I was voted onto the Board of Directors of my local Romance Writers of America chapter.  Whether you look at it as a great honor or a voluntary year of indentured servitude to the organization (I'm hoping it is the former!), it is my way of giving back to a group that supports me year round.  The beautiful part of this is that no matter how much of my time I give to others, I receive (almost) as much back.  New frienships, strengthened existing friendships, unbelievable networking, and so much more.  Writing is a particularly solitary occupation, so seize every opportunity to mix and mingle with your peers.

Getting on the Board of any organization to which you belong is a great idea.  There are positions for people with loads of experience, as well as positions that relative newcomers can snap up.  It is a wonderful training ground, and a great way to immerse yourself (otherwise known as trial by fire!).

Now, to be more engaged, you certainly don't need to commit yourself to a leadership position (although I highly recommend it).  As a more low-key example, we recently wrapped up a contest.  Participation as a judge meant critiquing four 20 page-long entries; you could knock them off in an afternoon, or spread out over four weeks.  In other words, the time committment was negligible.  But you always improve as a writer by reading other works, not to mention that you are helping out each entrant to grow, and pursue their dream.  Think about that for a minute - being a stepping stone along the path to realizing a lifelong dream.  That is HUGE!  Talk about good karma.  And who couldn't use some good karma?

Give of yourself.  Becoming more engaged simultaneously gives to others while the experience is a gift to you.

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