Thursday, August 04, 2005

For RWA members only

I thought I was finished talking about the RWA Conference, but three people have asked what I thought of the RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremony last Saturday evening. Yes, I was there, but it isn't that I "glossed over the debacle," as one e-mailer accused; rather, I didn't see it as as a debacle but merely a series of unfortunate calls by the organizers and a program that was best forgiven and forgotten.

Silly me. I should have known the blogosphere would be abuzz with this subject because that's what RWA members do when they're not writing books -- complain about the current RWA leadership and what those volunteers are doing to ruin the lives of romance writers and screw up the entire romance industry.

At the risk of sounding as self-absorbed as I actually am, I will reiterate that this blog is about things that interest me. And you know, I'm just not all that fascinated by the RWA dust-ups du jour. But I figure if three people go to the trouble of asking, a bunch of others must be interested in what I think about this. So here you go:

My Impressions of the Awards Ceremony and the Ensuing Outrage, Including My Dismay that even the Redoubtable Ron Hogan Saw Fit to Mention the Contretemps on His Otherwise Excellent Blog

The program was too long. The theatre was too crowded and too hot. And every ten minutes or so, the spotlights would play over the crowd and hit us right in the eyes. I was shocked that a bunch of romance writers couldn't write a better script. The jokes weren't funny and the segues were clunky--yet all were conceived by people who write wonderful books. Go figure. And while I understand that the video montages were meant to show how the world has changed in the 25 years since RWA's inception, the program would have been more appropriate and entertaining if it had focused on the history of RWA and the romance industry rather than the events that have shaped our nation and the world. (What did mention of the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment, the appointment of the first woman Supreme Court Justice, clips of President Clinton saying, "I did not have sex with that woman," and shots of the Space Shuttle Challenger--although not its subsequent explosion--have to do with writing romance?)

To those who are snarking throughout the blogosphere that the program was a heavy-handed political statement meant to appeal to right-wingers and Christians, I say, hogwash. I'm an evangelical Christian who (mostly) votes conservative, but I wasn't moved to cheer or applaud any of the video clips. Feel better now?

As for the big stink about Nora Roberts refusing at the last minute to emcee the program because she objected to its content, I understand why she bowed out, but she should have stuck with her original statement. That last bit about supporting RWA but not the current president didn't come off as particularly classy.

Friends, we're talking about a one-time show put on by volunteers for an audience of 2,100. It wasn't filmed or taped. I figured the blogosphere brouhaha would die down in another couple of days, at least I hoped it would, and then this morning I saw a post about it on Beatrice and felt trapped into answering the challenge of the three individuals who had e-mailed me yesterday.

If you non-RWA members don't understand any of this, don't worry; this is not about curing cancer or lowering the price of oil. It's not even about--as it should be--writing romance. It's just another day at RWA. We creative types must always have something to argue about.


Robin Bayne said...

Just one question, Brenda: Where are your M&Ms??? (your header is plain blue : )

Anonymous said...

HOORAH for Nora. I'd have bowed out, too.

Look, if I had attended I would have enjoyed seeing an interesting presentation on the evolution of romance over the last three decades, and how RWA helped shape, expand, assist in the growth of the genre. I'd have enjoyed seeing glimpses of past notalbes and new subgenres and a discussion of LITERARY STUFF.

Why they tied it in to national/global news beats me. I mean, that's not what the conference was about. It's about writing & reading romance novels and women's fiction.

So, good on Nora and THPPTTT to those who planned that crap.

I was amused by the idea that the program was lefty. Excuse me, but in the last 25 years, there were more years of Repub presidents than non-Repubs, so, well, maybe that explains why Reagan and other Repubs were shown more than Clinton. Just saying...


Eddie said...


Brenda Coulter said...

I love how Robin zeros in on the important stuff.

The M&M's are still there, Robin. Must be a Blogger glitch. Try reloading the page.

Mir, people are saying the program was slanted to the right. Yes, I know that's what you meant; I'm dyslexic, too! ;-)

Eddie, welcome to my blog. Please go get some of your guy friends and come back; sometimes it gets awfully girly around here.

Mikesell said...

I read this and I'm not an RWA member.
Ha ha!

But, hey, now that I've read Nora I have an idea of what's going on.

Come back soon Eddie. Don't leave "the boy" and me as the only well-dressed gents around here.

--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

Hey don't leave out Neal, and Paul out of this! Chris and who's the boy? you or #one son

Mikesell said...

The boy is Brenda's #one son (I won't let my #one read this kind of stuff).

Okay, Paul and Neal and Tristan and me and Eddie. Hmmm ... maybe we'll stage a coup and make Brenda write testosterone-driven fic for a change. ;)

--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

I don't think it should go that far , but hay is't not up to me,
and Chris I wasn't talking about your #one, I was talking about you ;-D

Mikesell said...

No, I'm the 'me' in phrase '"the boy" and me'.

--Chris (dFm)

Anonymous said...

I know what you were saying, was just trying to ruffle
your feathers, with being called a boy and not a man

Monica Jackson said...

I think by far the worse thing they did, (and you'll hear no one fussing about it the usual circles) is that they didn't metion Vivian Stephens, who was a RWA founder 25 years ago and a Harlequin editor fought to buy the first romance allowed with black characters within the last 25 years. She is on a par with Rosa Parks.

She was mentioned nowhere in the ceremonies. True, she's not aligned with RWA now, but there is a reason and she isn't unprofessional about it nor does she mention it.

I was the first Prez and founder of an RWA chapter that I no longer associate with--also politely and without rancor--because I couldn't not deal with the usual racism we always have to in such close range, but instead of mentioning or dealing with it, I did the proper thing and silently left. I talked to Tracy Peterson about it, a wonderful inspy writer, and she took over.

But to disregard Vivian the way she did, whose contributions are on the same level as either Rita is unforgivable in the eyes of many black romance authors and clearly illustrates why she is no longer associated with the RWA.

Brenda Coulter said...

Actually, Monica, I have heard fussing about Vivian Stephens being left out. But unless I see evidence to the contrary, I'm going to assume there was no intention to ignore her contributions to the organization. Still, what a grevious oversight! Thanks for telling us about her.

I wish the ceremony had focused more on all of the founders. I'd love to see someone prepare a history of each of them, detailing how they shared their talents and their hearts to launch RWA. Wouldn't that be a great addition to the RWA website?

It's good to see you here again, Monica. Thanks for commenting.

Jonquil said...

> It wasn't filmed or taped.

Do we know this? The documentary crew from Canada were present, weren't they?

If this were the only RWA kerfuffle this summer, I think it would die down quickly. Given that it follows, in close succession, the graphical standards brouhaha and the definition of romance skirmish (take THAT, Roget), I feel quite justified in saying "What the Sam Hill is going on here?" We have a clearcut pattern of somebody on the Board charging ahead into politically-charged waters without adequate consultation.

Brenda Coulter said...

Do we know this? The documentary crew from Canada were present, weren't they?

Jonquil, I'm afraid I don't know anything about that. I did see them at the Harlequin party on Friday night and at one of the workshops, but if they filmed any part of the awards ceremony on Saturday night I didn't see them there. All I meant was that RWA does not record the awards ceremonies.

Which is almost a shame. ;-) They could have made some real money selling DVDs of this one!

Brenda said...

Hey Brenda, I'm right there with you. Maybe it's because we share names or something incredibly vital like that.

Btw, you were quoted on Lee Goldberg's blog. Thought you'd want to know:

Monica Jackson said...

Brenda, I must respectfully note that if they ignored any another founder such as Rita Gallengher, with so many people involved, there would have to be some reason, such as they considered her too inconsequential to bother with. Then the question would have to be why did they?

The we-didn't-mean-it-like-that-so-kwitcher-griping excuse is extremely wearisome. I could do all sorts of hurtful, biased and thoughtless things with such an excuse.

Brenda Coulter said...

I hear you, Monica. And I think you have good reason to gripe, even if the omission was unintentional. It's just that I hesitate to ascribe malicious motives to people who may be guilty of simple thoughtlessness. (Not that "Oops! We didn't mean it" would erase the offense. It wouldn't.)

I hope you or someone else who is in possession of the facts of Ms. Stephens's contribution will write a letter to the RWR and set the record straight.

Brenda Coulter said...

Btw, you were quoted on Lee Goldberg's blog. Thought you'd want to know....

Yeah, I gathered that from my server logs. Thanks, Brenda B. Nice to see you here again.

Anonymous said...

"Excuse me, but in the last 25 years, there were more years of Repub presidents than non-Repubs, so, well, maybe that explains why Reagan and other Repubs were shown more than Clinton. Just saying..."

The gripe wasn't that Republican presidents got more face time than Democratic ones. The gripe was that Clinton was presented only in reference to the Lewinsky scandal, whereas Reagan and both Bushes were shown in a very flattering light.

Why no Iran-Contra scandal? Enron? US Savings & Loan meltdown?

THAT's why many people think the program had a righty slant.

Brenda Coulter said...

Hi, Candy. I thought the whole video presentation was shockingly inappropriate. If it had any "righty slant," it sure failed to impress this righty. But I want to point out that the RWA president has now gone on record that no RWA member was involved in assembling the montages or the accompanying music. That was done by the production company they hired, and the RWA people never saw the videos until a day before the ceremony. That the RWA leaders made some bad calls, I'm not disputing. But to suggest that they were pushing a political agenda is to ignore the facts. In this case, at least, the leadership was too unorganized to have an agenda. ;-)