I resigned from Indiana Horror Writers today. It’s not something I wanted to do, necessarily, but felt I had to do. It’s been a long time coming.

ihw08Three and a half months later, I (and several others) follow Bob Freeman out the door. I was one of the founding members of IHW and we’ve had our share of laughs and tears. This group was instrumental in hosting Mo*Con and has played a huge role in my life and writing career. So it’s with sadness that I had to tender my resignation, while still wondering how we got to this point.

I suspect the roots of the problem began in the inevitable growing pains as the founders of the group passed the reins over to the “next generation”, the sustainers. Even granting a learning curve on how social media is a loaded weapon, one gets tired of seeing the officers, the public face of the organization, seeming to forget that they represent the group at all times. I am reminded of John Scalzi’s tenure as SFWA president and how keenly aware he was that (disclaimers aside) his words carried the weight of the power of his office. He was always in the shadow of his authority and comported himself accordingly.

Speaking of SFWA, I’m mindful of what has recently transpired with them. When someone is being racist, misogynist, or otherwise marginalizing people, you can either leave them in place or leave that place. I can’t help but be struck by the image of writing groups/genre as a pool. Frankly, you get in the pool knowing that on occasion, someone’s going to pee in it. You know it even if you may not always be aware of every instance of it. Sometimes you encounter someone determined to do nothing but pee in the pool. It becomes a matter of how much pee you’re willing to tolerate before you leave.

Leaving that unfortunate analogy aside, it came down to, as Nora Jemison put it, picking a side. Yes, everyone has the right to their opinion, be as big of a raging a-hole as you want, but there are consequences to patterns of behavior, be it unexamined misogyny or racism. Marginalize and condescend to folks enough and they feel unwelcome, no longer feeling safe within a community, and that’s just not the kind of group I want to be in.

In the end, we started IHW so that we could forge relationships. We wanted a fellowship of kindred spirits to encourage one another, to push one another, and hold each other accountable. We got more than we expected. We were loud, we were messy, we were family. We have friendships which will last a lifetime. We started as a group, we leave as a group, still supporting one another.

I know something cool can grow from all of this and I look forward to it. I’ll just miss what was.