Recently there was some discussion on Twitter, that I had jumped into a bit, but I thought longform might be the best way to further explain.
1. You want to be a writer. Or you have been writing but feel like you need something to get you to the next step. Yay!
2. You google writing. Or you pick up a writerly sounding magazine. Or talk to your friends. And you see there are tons of things. You could get an MFA! You could go to a conference! You could join this writer group! You could take this class at the local writer's workshop! You could take these online classes with agents and editors! You could do NaNoWriMo! You could...you see my point? There's a lot.
3. All organizations/conferences/
retreats/meetups/courses are not created equal. And they weren't intended to be. RT is very different from RWA in it's intent and focus. That doesn't make one bad and the other good. It's means they are different. I've been writing young adult for a bit. I haven't joined SCBWI. I talked to folks and decided I was getting what I needed from RWA at a national and local level. For now. This isn't a knock on SCBWI. And it's also partly a function of what I write. If I wrote middle grade, or only things with no kissing, RWA might feel less like home to me.
4. But, RWA also costs money. Money to join national, money to join local or specific focus chapters, and money to attend national or local conferences. Yes, there are scholarships available. But if you can't afford to do all of the things, it doesn't mean you can't be a writer. And there are a lot of things. I've looked into doing an MFA. I talked to people who had done one, asked what they got out of it. And if you don't know anyone who's done the thing you want to try, may I suggest googling. Now that everyone has social media or a blog, you can get a sense of what things are offering and decide if that suits where you are.
5. Also, think about what people tell you about their experience. If what they told you is it energized them to be in a room full of people who got being a writer, who got what that meant, and who assumed you were serious when you called yourself that, that is amazing. It really is. It may not require several hundred dollars for you to have that experience.
6. You could also do none of those things and still be a writer. You could also do none of those things and still be a published writer.
7. And the other thing. If you did those things and they worked for you? Then yay! If that return on investment was sufficient for you? Then yay! Someone saying X event seems expensive for what it offers, doesn't take that away from you. My friend has wanted to do RT or RWA for a while, but last year she and her spouse took their kids to Europe. That's also a great experience. In other words, you do you.