I'm the president of Utah RWA, we have a conference coming in October. It's going to be a great conference, if you want to check it out, go to www.utahrwa.com Anyway, I'm not the conference coordinator, but everything has to be approved by the board.
I had my day all mapped out, what I was going to edit, etc. Then I get a call about raffle prizes. And there goes an hour of back and fourth with the board, and the coordinator.
I finally start to catch up, then it's dinner. Good it's over and I'm at the computer and again I'm on the phone, now it's the budget. How much do we have in the bank. We still need, this and that and the other.
My coordinator said "You wouldn't believe how many hours I've worked on this conference and not written a word." And my answer was, "Oh, yes, I do know exactly what you're saying."
I coordinated the URWA conference in 2007 and for the year prior to the conference I did not write a word. Though I will admit it was mostly my own fault because I would delegate and if they weren't fast enough I'd do it myself. Well how long do you think it took my committee to realize if they procrastinated long enough they wouldn't have to do it at all? Anyway that's beside the point I'm trying to make.
If you're a member of RWA you understand how important it is to volunteer. And there are a lot of benefits that come with volunteering. Especially coordinating something like a conference or even being on the committee. Those are the volunteers who meet the visiting editors and agents up close and personal.
They have personal contact with them prior to the conference. Chances are they meet them at the airport and they have a captive audience in route to the venue. Then they have the conference time to chat with them, introduce them to everyone. Basically make them feel at home. Show them around town if there's time.
Great you say, where do I sign up. But did you read what I said? I did not write for a year. My coordinator this year has hardly written in months. And she's been very good at delegating. I have only myself to blame for how much I missed out on. Had I not taken over when people were slow, I still would have cut my writing time in half. That's still a lot of sacrifice to give to your chapter.
And someone needs to do it. I'm not saying not to volunteer. My point is: you have to find a balance for your volunteer time. When does the time away from writing outweigh the benefits of meeting VIP's for the conference, or networking with people you otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to do?
Only you can know what the balance is. You don't want to burn out so you never volunteer again. But you want to have opportunities, after all isn't that why you joined RWA? To network with your own kind? To find an agent and ultimately an editor?
The moral of this blog post is: Volunteer, but be wise.
What are some of the experiences you've had?