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  • Writer's picturePru Warren

Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa


10-21-22



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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5 Comments


Karen Corkran
Karen Corkran
Oct 22, 2022

It's so easy to go wrong with email, but it's not easy to write such a lovely apology. Give yourself a lot of points for that because you've earned them. Hugs, from a WRW friend.

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megnapierauthor
Oct 21, 2022

I'm with ktfromlv. We've ALL done things we wish we hadn't. I cheated on Wordle yesterday, and I swear to God it ruined my whole day. I actually cried about something else later in the evening, and it's the first time in months and months that I've shed tears. I just felt like such a miserable excuse for a human being AND a writer. And almost all of us hate self-promotion, so many of us do things with our eyes closed and our heads averted - which can (duh!) obviously lead to missteps. Part of the reason you felt it necessary to leave RWA and WRW was your sense that there were members in each that you just didn't fee…

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Pru Warren
Pru Warren
Oct 21, 2022
Replying to

I know you understand--thank you, Meg! I feel like a miserable excuse for a human...except that the support I'm getting is making me feel a LITTLE less stupid...so thank you for that!!

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ktfromlv
ktfromlv
Oct 21, 2022

Don’t beat yourself up over this, Pru. You made a mistake, apologized and have learned a valuable lesson. We all have done similar things because email is such a simple way to communicate to the masses. Now, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and face the world with confidence because you have corrected your error and do not need to look back at it again. ((Hugs from NV))

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Pru Warren
Pru Warren
Oct 21, 2022
Replying to

KT, your support really does help to ease the sting. Thank you!

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