It is cliché to depict life as a path, but there is much truth in this image, which is why its usage is so popular.  The writing life also is a path through thorny brambles and the occasional sunny meadow.  (Today’s post waxes poetic!  ☺ )

This past Saturday was my monthly RWA chapter meeting with the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors.  Our program was titled LERA Idol and is a take-off of the popular American Idol television show, only for writers instead of singers.  Participants anonymously submit the first two pages of their manuscript.  These are read out loud to the members by a designated speaker.  The panel of judges then offers their opinions on what was good about the writing and where improvements could be made.  It’s a great way to have your opening cold read and see if you are accomplishing the information and emotional response you wish to invoke in the reader.

I was blown away by the fresh writing and strong voices in every submission.  It was clear that LERA members are excellent writers.  The judges’ suggestions were very easy fixes to perhaps tighten writing or remove some extraneous information (such as the reader doesn’t need to be told three times the heroine has blonde hair.)  Those first two pages are very precious writing real estate, so use your words judiciously.

The other amazing thing about the meeting was the number of successes our members have achieved.   At the beginning, we go around to all members and guests, asking their name, what they write and if they have any announcements to share.  Well, that just overflowed with positivity.

For the first time, one of our members had the courage to put her writing out into the world.  She participated in the LERA Idol.  This is a big stepping stone on a writer’s path.  At some point, the work needs to be shown to others, if your words are to have any effect.  It takes a lot of courage to reach this stepping stone.

Then another member announced she’d won first place in a publisher’s mystery manuscript contest, and her book was going to be published by a major New York company.  She was thrilled to say this and generously said it was because of the helpful knowledge and support she’d received from our chapter that had taught her to improve her craft.  She’s one of our newer writers, so such major stepping stone for someone at the beginning of her career is a wonderful achievement.

One of our multi-published authors received our cheers for being a RITA finalist.  The list of finalists came out at the end of March, and Jeffe Kennedy is a nominee in Paranormal Romance for her book Pages of the Mind.  It’s a fantasy epic romance.  These awards are the pinnacle of achievement for romance authors, often being compared to the Oscars.  Only the best even make the finals, let alone win.  The winners will be announced this July at the RWA convention in Orlando, FL.  We had cake to celebrate Jeffe, making the meeting like a party with all the good news.

All along the writing path are different stepping stones that acknowledge what an author has done. My chapter did that yesterday.  Writing can be very lonely; being able to connect with others who understand your achievements shows that the path doesn’t have to be completely isolated.  If you’re ever in New Mexico, do stop by our chapter Land of Enchantment Romance Authors.  We will welcome you, wherever you might be on your writing journey.