This Is One Group I'm Really Proud to Join
It's often said of writers that they're not "joiners." Something in their psychic makeup, a stubborn independent streak mostly, prevents many of them from joining groups or associations. And even when they do join together, you should feel sorry for anyone who's trying to lead them anywhere, because it can be like herding cats. This is all true.
But I suppose I've been a bit of an exception on that. While I'm as stubbornly independent as anyone--just ask my wife or kids or best friends, and they'll give you an earful about how it's one of my biggest failings--I've also seen the power of combining with the right carefully chosen people and groups to do what I do better. To share what I know with others and especially to learn what I don't know from them. At their best, these are giant learning networks that encourage one to continue to do more, aim higher, be better.
Thus far, I've been doing that only on a local and regional level (through SPJ and the Poets and Writers League of Greater Cleveland). As my work has grown and my vision has expanded (the web has certainly enlarged it), it was time to move beyond that geography. So I applied for membership to the group I thought might best help me do that.
Last week, I got word that I've been accepted into ASJA, the American Society of Journalists and Authors. It made my week. This is a pretty selective group. According to the membership roster I just reviewed, there are only 16 members in Ohio (I'll be the 17th), and only four others in the Cleveland area. Luckily, three are longtime friends: Mary Mihaly, Susanne Alexander and Kristen Ohlsen. The other has until now just been a familiar byline, Donna Marchetti, who regularly reviews books for the Plain Dealer. I'm looking forward to meeting her sometime soon, after having read her work for years. And I'm REALLY looking forward to attending ASJA's national convention later this month in New York. I'm feeling downright intoxicated by the prospect of all this new learning and connecting. It feels like the natural next step in both expanding and deepening my writing practice.