A few years ago, I got the notion into my head that I would like to write a book. I expect many of you at some point in your lives have had the same idea, or thought while reading, ‘this looks so easy even I could do it’. I know I did. And boy, was I wrong!

One day, I was browsing through a well known author’s website, and came across an article she wrote about the craft of writing. The article was full of advice and information on where to find the education and support resources essential to the success of aspiring authors like me. And there it was; the advice that propelled me into the world of writing.

So what was the advice? Join a writers’ group. For me, specifically, a romance writers’ group. I joined Romance Writers of America and then was delighted to discover that one of their chapters was practically on my doorstep – the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association (ORWA).

What a revelation! I thought my writing was pretty good; that with a few tips here and there, and the address of a couple agents and editors, I’d be on my way to becoming a New York Times best selling author! Well, I may be prejudiced, but I still think my writing was pretty good; but not even great writing will get you published without a lot of other things happening first. So, the first, and most important, thing I learned on joining ORWA, was that I had a great deal to learn. I knew nothing about plotting and structure, character building, point of view, back story, editing…the list goes on. As for how to go about getting a manuscript in front of an agent or editor, or even which publishing house and line would be the best platform for this potential best seller…you get the picture. I needed a lot of help!

As a reader, we see and read the finished product. We don’t think about the hours of writing, editing, re-writing, or the agonies of rejection when your masterpiece is torn to shreds. We don’t know about or think about the complexities of the ever changing publishing world. We don’t know about the author who juggles a job, family and writing with no certainty of success or profit. And we don’t understand how isolated and solitary a writer can feel as they struggle to master their craft. We just see and enjoy the finished product. And they make it seem so easy!

But a writers’ group, and its members, knows all about these things. They can offer educational support and resources; workshops geared to improving your craft; and up-to-date information on publishers, editors, agents and publishing platforms. They can offer support, advice and friendship – and that Kleenex when you confess to your latest rejection. And when you type those magical words ‘THE END’, or receive an offer of publication, they are there to celebrate with you.

To illustrate how beneficial it can be to join a writers’ group, and more specifically, ORWA, we are very proud to be able to say that out of approximately 40 members, 20 are published, most of whom started their writing careers in much the same way as I did.

For me, joining ORWA has been transformational. Without ORWA and its wonderful members, I doubt I would have been able to write two books, with two more in the works. I’m not published yet, but I still have a lot to learn, and with the support and encouragement of the romance writing community and ORWA in particular, I’m going to keep on writing and improving my craft.

If you are interested in knowing more about romance writing and ORWA, I encourage you to join us at one of our meetings to learn more about what we can offer.

Malena Abel, President