I am a member of three writing organisations*.
- The Victorian Writers’ Centre (VWC) (www.vwc.org.au)
- Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) (www.qwc.asn.au)
- Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) (www.romanceaustralia.com)
I’ve been away on holiday. In the mail when I arrived home were the August newsletters for each group as well as emails from VWC and QWC in my email inbox. It was interesting to read one after the other and to compare the three organisations.
I am, unashamedly, a genre writer, and this bias shows. When the various writing organisations ask for feedback, the first thing I say is ‘more genre, please’.
Victorian Writers’ Centre (VWC)
The VWC is, in my opinion, the most literary of the three. It has become even more so since they moved to the Wheeler Centre and Roderick Poole became director. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate direction Roderick is taking them, or if I am just noticing it more since the redesign of the website and the magazine. They’re big into poetry, literary writers and into writing festivals (not all literary I might add).
Queensland Writers Centre (QWC)
To me, QWC strikes a better balance between genre and literary. In the August issues both magazines talked about local writing conferences and poetry, but the QWC also had an article on the Australian crime scene and another on writing historical romance.
Both magazines cover a good range of workshops, writing opportunities and competitions.
Romance Writers of Australia Inc. (RWA)
Now we’re really talking genre. While Hearts Talk is nowhere near as polished as The Victorian Writer or WQ, this is the magazine I read from cover to cover. This is industry-specific news and networking. This is the sort of information a genre writer needs to keep them enthusiastic. And I am not even primarily a romance writer but a science fiction/fantasy writer who adds romantic elements.
The August magazine contained an article on creating characters, a note on the response to Meghan Cox Gurdon’s criticism of young adult literature being too dark plus Lynne Wilding award nominees for the RWA volunteer of the year, as well as member news and releases.
Obviously, for me, the RWA provides more value for money than either of the state-based writing groups.
I first decided to join RWA after talking to a fellow speculative fiction writer at a VWC workshop. She wrote fantasy, I was writing science fiction at the time. And I think that probably says it all. To the VWC, ‘speculative fiction’ is one small (and sometimes it seems to me, unimportant) type of writing, while RWA is genre-based enough to recognise the different genres within, while always with a view to the romance genre, of course.
Different types of writers will find different writing groups more valuable than others. For me, as a genre writer, the best value for money is in my RWA membership, even though I don’t actually write romance per se. If I wrote, say, literary fiction or even mainstream fiction, I imagine I would get more value out of my VWC membership.
If you can afford it, I think that you should become a member of your state writing organisation. If nothing else, it keeps you in touch with other writers and what is going on in the writing world.
On top of that, join any genre organisation that is suitable.
* I am also a member of the Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (ASFFA) (http://www.asffwa.com/). I can’t speak for them, as I haven’t really had much contact with them.