No One Threw Vegetables

last Saturday morning when I presided over my first meeting as president of the West Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America.  In fact the meeting went quite smoothly, stayed on schedule, and was very well attended.  I may live through my term after all.

I can’t speak for other chapters of RWA, but it has been my experience over the years, in the two local chapters I belong to, that members run from office rather than for it.  Seating a new board often requires a great deal of cajoling, if not actual arm-twisting.  Most chapters elect officers for one-year terms but assume they will serve two years, barring some unexpected development.  Many if not most chapters also have two-year term limits, so chapters scramble for officers fairly often.  This fall West Houston needed to nominate a new president and treasurer, although I use the term “nominate” loosely.  I don’t remember a chapter election in which there were two candidates requiring an actual choice.  It’s usually hard enough to find one volunteer.

When Karen Burns, approaching the end of her second year as president, asked for a volunteer for the post at a meeting last July, she was met with profound silence and a noticeable lack of eye contact.  A couple of friends had suggested that I run, I’m not sure why, but I kept my mouth shut, too.  I was already on the board of another chapter, serving as treasurer at Houston Bay Area RWA.  So it wasn’t until after the meeting that I emailed Karen to say that if no one else could be shanghaied, I would take the job. I’m afraid that bit of information leaked out, somehow, and guess what?  No one else volunteered.

This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve belonged to RWA since 1996, when I joined Houston Bay Area, and I’ve served that chapter as treasurer (two years), president (two years), secretary (two years), and now I’m in year two of another run as treasurer.  I’ve even done two years a while back as treasurer of West Houston.  But West Houston is much the larger chapter, and requires quite a bit more management.

Both chapters met this past week, West Houston on Saturday morning and Bay Area on Tuesday evening.   Bay Area is a small, casual chapter:  the other night we had twelve members present, adopted our 2012 budget in a few minutes, and spent the rest of the evening on our two-page, five-minute Chocolate Critiques.  At West Houston, on the other hand, we had about fifty members and three or four guests in attendance, a quick board meeting at the post-business meeting break (we’re still wrestling with a much larger budget), and a very interesting presentation on Blogging and Independent Publishing by one of our members, Joan Reeves, who is very knowledgeable on both subjects.

A week after my debut as Den Mother, I’m feeling slightly less overwhelmed by the job.  I can’t say as much about my email:  I’m now on three chapter loops (I also belong to The Golden Network, the online chapter for Golden Heart finalists, and what a thrill that is!), two chapter board loops, three RWA National forums (for chapter presidents, chapter treasurers, and chapter web site developers), the RWA PRO loop, and the 2011 Golden Heart finalists loop. 

What used to be my sewing room is now filling up with West Houston president’s and chapter materials, while the Bay Area treasury boxes sit under a table in another room.  I’m afraid to keep them in the same room:  I’m confused enough already.  This evening I nearly posted the Bay Area budget to the West Houston chapter loop.  I find myself forgetting which chapter I’m supposed to be doing which job for.  Overcommitment, here I am.

But I love both chapters, the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve received.  At West Houston we’re planning our February meeting, an all day workshop with guest agents and the announcement of the winners of the Emily Contest.  At Bay Area we already have a full year’s line up of meetings planned.

I’ll be busy, but it’s going to be a good year.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo Eberhardt
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 01:14:25

    You may be overwhelmed, but I’m jealous. Not of the position (thank you, madam president), but of the fact that you have access to so many great groups and resources for writers where you live.



    • Kay Hudson
      Jan 21, 2012 @ 10:50:53

      We are fortunate indeed, Jo. We have three RWA chapters in the Houston area (the third, Northwest Houston, is just too far for me to make the meetings, but quite a few writers do belong to all three), and there are several multi-genre groups in the area as well. There are ten RWA chapters each in Texas, New York, and California (I was curious, so I checked), nine in Florida, and anywhere from none to six in the other states. Plus the online chapters. RWA really is a great resource, even for people who write primarily in other genres.



  2. Cheryl Bolen
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 09:39:11

    As another member of both chapters, I am profoundly grateful for your sage leadership and competency. (Guess who one of those members was who encouraged her to be president!)



  3. Pat O'Dea Rosen
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 07:02:02

    I’m grateful for you, too, Madame President. Thanks for stepping up.



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