A Pivotal Moment or Paradigm Shift?
My first RNA Conference – July 2015
Phew, phew, phew! Let me get my breath back. Where do I start!! Firstly, in a friggin’ nutshell it was fantastic; fast and furious, fiercely informative and fabulously friendly. I could ramble all day about the brilliant talks, the wonderful writer opportunities and social gatherings not to mention the amazing people behind the scenes who organise such a great annual event so do I need to go on?
Yes, because what captivates me most is the dynamics of the organisation and how the embracing of social media has benefitted us members. Since joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association just three and half years ago, not only has my life shifted; being consumed with fulfilling my writing dream, but I’ve discovered, along this period I’ve quite possibly been part of a paradigm shift in the writing world. Ok. I will define this a bit more because, I remember years ago when I first began my Psychology degree, sitting in a similar lecture theatre, such as those at Conference and listening to a most prominent professor who repeatedly banded about this phrase throughout his lecture and I had no idea what he was talking about. What was this word, paradigm? It turned out, I wasn’t the only one, ninety per cent of the other students on my introductory course hadn’t heard of it either! So just to clarify, according to the Oxford Dictionary definition it’s ‘a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions’.
So, in relation to writers and the RNA, what does this mean? Well, until recent years, authors, we imagined, were in their ivory towers. We read about them in books, magazines, saw them occasionally in bookstores or literary festivals, or in a two-minute interview on daytime TV with very little contact with their readers or, other authors whereas today, just look at the change. Authors are now transparent and highly visible due to this powerful shift; the world-wide advent of social media and its impact is creating new communities. I asked myself, is it just my experience of the last three and a half years or, is this the beginning of something major? Where will this awareness and access to social groups and organisations which were unobtainable, lead us? At present, in particular, Facebook, Twitter, Google plus and other such portals have been instrumental in inviting us all to have a profile whether publicly or privately, which allows us to engage in our specific interests. As readers and writers, we can now easily find information, written or visual and, even interact with each other online.
My point then is, being part of this paradigm shift has given us as individuals and, organisations such as the RNA new dynamics with so many benefits and nothing struck me more so when I arrived at the annual conference. At every turn, I met a friend, someone I instantly recognised, or who recognised me; whether authors from previous RNA events or from cyber avatars on Facebook and twitter with whom I’ve conversed, the point is this, we have a wonderful, thriving community which share common goals, dreams and support and the dynamics of both the RNA and social media bring us as individuals ever closer yet, to a wider world stage whilst providing the tools and mechanisms for us all to thrive.
We no longer rely on a single book to learn our craft, John Gardener On Becoming A Novelist for example or, is it a necessity to complete a writing degree, the RNA run brilliant events such as their conference where authors are more than happy to make time to impart their knowledge, their inspirations, expertise and methods. For new or established writers, the RNA’s resources can empower you in so many ways by building skills and confidence. Their own blogs as well as authors and book bloggers have brought us a whole new medium of online information and resources for our writing. I love these as I’m always seeking to improve my writing and, this weekend, the RNA conference allowed me to attended various talks from agents, publishers and authors with first-class seminars or workshops from numerous prolific and talented writers such as Charlotte Betts, Elizabeth Hawksley, Jenny Barden, Jenny Haddon, Rowan Coleman to name but a few. But, one author in particular, whose name you may be familiar with Emma Darwin, has given me yet another new challenge with her phrase ‘Psychic Difference’ aka, narrative distance. Yes, I apparently engage with it every day in my writing and reading but I’ll save that for another blog. For now I’m grateful to be learning and proud to be a member of this great organisation and, at the onset of this mighty paradigm shift.