Okay, okay. I wasn't going to do this, but "everyone" wants me to address the Romance Writers of America controversy du jour, so here we go. Sort of.
RWA is a professional organization to which almost 9,000 published and aspiring romance writers belong. A small portion of the membership is currently upset about a new rule the RWA board instituted in March without input from the general membership. From what I've been able to learn on the internet, it appears that nobody bothered to question the rule until just a few days ago, when it was allegedly applied in a way many deemed unfair. I won't say any more about that because I haven't come across any hard facts on the internet; only statements along the lines of "The author this happened to is someone I know personally" and "here's what I heard a board member say about the new graphical standards at our chapter meeting". This heresay moves me not at all. My analytical mind does not form opinions based on the opinions of others, but on facts. I want to know the author's name and the book title and a lot of other details about this alleged abuse. And then I want to see the board address the issue and clarify several things, including what this rule is, why it was instituted without input from the general membership, and how it is going to be applied.
Until those things happen, I probably won't have anything more to say on this subject. If you want details, let me tell you they're few and far between. Most of what's flying around the internet is speculation and (so far) groundless outrage. For two discussions that have been (at least until 9:00 this morning, the last time I looked in on them) polite and reasonable, go here and here.
It was never my intention to use this blog as a bully pulpit for whipping up interest in RWA issues, so this post represents a real departure for me. That said, I'll leave the comments section open in case some of you would like to weigh in on this. Just remember, please, that profanity is not appreciated on this blog; that means you can't quote the RWA "graphical standards" rule (because it spells out the Words That May Not Be Used).
U P D A T E
June 11, 2005
On Thursday evening, June 9, the RWA board met by conference call and voted to suspend the Graphical Standards. They also voted to form an ad-hoc committee to study the issue. The board has tacitly acknowledged having overstepped their authority by instituting the standards without input from the membership, and they now appear to be making an honest effort to rectify the situation.
It bothers me a lot when bloggers take issues like this and egg each other on, glorying in their outrage and spreading it all over the internet. Those who participated in and encouraged all that wild speculation about the RWA board attempting to marginalize certain RWA members don't seem quite so eager to post on this issue now that the board has admitted to having made an error in judgment and is meekly returning to square one.
No, it's much more exciting to rant. People rush to "ranty" blogs like they do to train wrecks. So now that it's clear the RWA board did not have a hidden agenda, bloggers who love controversy will have to find themselves a new scandal. Or invent one.
Sadly, that's the way of the blogosphere.