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  • Writer's picturePru Warren

Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa


I’ve done something stupid.

I know it was stupid not only because people are telling me so but also because it kept me up last night…and stopped me from falling asleep when I woke up again at 4am. I’ll tell you the details because it’s important that I offer a public apology.

For three years, I was the communications director of the Washington Romance Writers (my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America). During that time, I emailed every member repeatedly—almost always through the RWA forum—about upcoming events, providing zoom links and workshop information. I sent out monthly newsletters. I wagged my tail as hard as I could as the romance world began drawing in its elbows in the aftermath of a series of disasters.

(I don’t mean to be coy; those disasters got a lot of press and you can find the stories if you care. That’s not what my apology is about, so I’m skipping over it.)

During that time, I came to feel like the member lists were “mine.” I poured my heart and energy into messaging them, hoping we could maintain a sense of community and collegiality during a time when the romance world was becoming isolated and insular. But eventually I was worn out by these efforts, and like so many others, I left RWA. That meant I had to leave WRW, too.

But I DID have a list of WRW members from two years ago. It wasn’t mine; my sense of possessiveness was entirely self-determined. The chapter wasn’t mine, and that list of names wasn’t mine, either. I had no right to it.

I was driving home from dinner with a friend the other night, listening to the radio and thinking about my upcoming Kickstarter. Why, I wondered, do some songs get into heavy rotation on the radio and others don’t?

The two areas of thought coalesced in my brain. The answer was: Self-promotion. Relentless, determined, courageous self-promotion.

Self-promotion, of course, is hard for most people. Authors are consistently wracked by the insidious fear that they’re really not very good, and women are taught by the unspoken rules of society that it’s bitchy to be too pushy. We often talk ourselves down, or demur when someone offers a compliment.

But that wouldn’t get your song into heavy rotation on the radio. And it wouldn’t get the word out about the Kickstarter.

So I got home and wrote an email about how romance hadn’t much worked YET on Kickstarter and asked authors to help me boost the campaign.

Then I mailed it to every name on a list I had absolutely no right to.

It should come as no surprise that recipients objected. They had every right to; I had abused the trust vested in me when I got the member list in 2020. I was using (or attempting to use) a chapter’s information for my personal gain.

That was stupid. I’m ashamed and embarrassed and can’t think of how to get my apology to where it’s needed without compounding my mistake.

So I’m writing a blog. It’s not much that I can do, but at least it’s public-facing. I regret my actions and have destroyed that list. And I’ve learned from this experience.

I made a mistake, and I apologize.

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