Skip to main content

The RNA: Finding My Tribe

My plan was to publish the second instalment of The Grown-Up Gap Year blog today. But then I read a comment about the RNA on twitter and my blog took a bit of a detour this week.

In the article the author praises the writing association she has joined. Good on her. I’m happy for her. I know how lonely and isolated writing can be, and how amazing it is when you discover that you are not as alone as you thought. It’s a truly indescribably wonderful feeling when you find a group where you belong. But to slate another writing association purely on hearsay and rumours is, in my opinion, completely unnecessary and unacceptable.

Many of us write across genres. We network with different groups. We chat on Facebook, twitter and in person whenever we get the chance. It doesn’t matter what group we are part of, or not part of. We are writers. We are united by a shared love of books and a passion to write. What else matters?

I’ve been a member of the Historical Novel Society, the SWWJ and the RNA. Every single one of these groups has welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been amazed and inspired by the support, advice and encouragement I have received. I’ve exchanged emails with YA writers and crime writers. We’ve attended festivals and book signings side by side. And the one thing that I have always found is how eager and willing other writers are to help, regardless of which association they may happen to belong to.

However, for me, the RNA is my tribe. I am so proud and happy to be a member. And this is why:

  • I nervously walked into my very first local chapter meeting in January 2016, terrified that I was out of my depth. I didn’t know anyone there and I knew even less about being a proper author. I walked out with amazing friendships that are still going strong and the confidence to keep writing.

  • After posting a comment on the RNA Facebook page about how nervous I was about making my first pitch to an agent, I had a reply from another author to say she was going to the same event, and she suggested we meet for lunch beforehand. She didn’t know me. She didn’t need to spend her lunch break helping me with my pitch when she could have been focusing on her own. But she did it anyway.

  • The RNA has an amazingly supportive New Writers’ Scheme. Every year I send my current manuscript off for a critique by a published writer and I receive the most unbelievably detailed and thorough advice to help me improve my novel.

  • I was so fortunate and honoured to receive the Katie Fforde Bursary this year, and in 2020 even more bursaries will be available.

  • When I posted on Facebook that I was moving down south, and asked if there were any groups down there, not only did I get an invite to join two groups, I was offered a lift to the first meeting and a lasting friendship that has resulted in me (re-)learning how to ride a bike as well, so I can go off to explore my new home with my new cycling buddy.

  • We promote each other’s book cover reveals and book launches. We join in blog tours and blog splashes. We cheer each other’s successes and are on hand with a hug when things are tough.

  • RNA members have read my manuscript when I’m stuck, helped me practice my elevator pitch (in an actual elevator in one instance) and assembled Ikea furniture when I moved home. They’ve offered advice and shared their wisdom and experiences. They’ve come to talk to me at events when I've walked in alone. They introduced me to other authors, publishers, agents and bloggers. I’ve never encountered any rivalry or backstabbing, only friendship and support.

And the only explanation for these extraordinary acts of kindness is quite simply, we are all writers.  We know what it’s like to spend all day staring a computer screen alone. We know how frustrating it is to get stuck when that perfect idea doesn’t quite work so well on the page. And we know the heartbreak of receiving a rejection letter that makes you question whether you’ll ever be good enough.

Writing is a solitary process, but being a writer can be the most amazing experience, full of unexpected and treasured friendships.