The President (of the RWA) Speaks

Why Define Romance?

Many RWA members are under the opinion that the definition of romance that appears on our website is the official RWA definition of romance. That definition was crafted by a committee, later brought before the board, and, in the final analysis, was added to by RWA's production manager. It's [sic] use,PR purposes. [actually this is from an email that might have been screwed up so the line might be "It's used for PR purposes"]

All of these years, while that definition sat on the website and was used by the press, RWA has actually had three definitions of romance that were used for programs and services: one that has been applied toward publisher recognition, another for the RITAs, and a third as a general mission statement.

As the genre expands and changes, as our membership grows and expects more from us, our internal definitions have been caught in the fray. RWA needs a tangible, clearly provable, non-subjective method for determining what exactly we mean by a Romance Novel, for publisher and agent recognition, newly formed chapters wanting RWA approval,contests, PAN membership, and for the allocation of our resources. Many feel we should have it be as broad, as all-inclusive as possible, but that would require that we're all on the same page; as the letters we've received this week have proven, we are not.

We are not trying to narrow the membership, nor tell people what to write. We are attempting to keep RWA alive and healthy.

In November of last year, the RWA board decided to attempt to come upwith a fluid definition that will adapt easily to the changing timesand the changing marketplace; a task force was formed to study RWA's bylaws, policies and procedures, and to come up with a few possibilities.

The task force was able to reach consensus on most of the wording, butwhen it came to the concept of whether a romance should be between a man and a woman as was previously assumed or be left open for much wider interpretation, they did not want to make that decision for the membership as a whole. The society in which RWA lives is changing; we have members who write romance, who have been writing it successfully, between two women or two men. They may wish to sign their books at the literacy signing, or to advertise in the RWR. Was that okay with themajority of the membership? We honestly did not know, and we had been criticized heavily for not asking for membership opinion on graphic standards; we didn't want to make that mistake again.

So we came up with a survey. Not a vote, nothing set in stone. Just anon-binding request for an opinion. We are not attempting to legislate morality - we are attempting to find out what our community wants us to be so that we can make the decisions we're being asked to make, and will most likely be asked to make more often in the future.

Tara Taylor Quinn, President
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Okay, then. What do you say?

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