The HWA: We Take Care of Our Own

Okay, maybe I’ve read one too many Chris Claremont (over) written X-men comics, but I love the idea of “taking care of our own”. This is my “further reflections” post on our local branch of HWA, the Indiana Horror Writers, going to visit J.N. Williamson this past weekend. It got me to thinking about two things: 1) the role of the HWA and 2) the nature of missions work.

The HWA has always mattered more to me as a concept, an ideal, to get behind over what it does for me practically. I hear all of these arguments about the HWA (the IHW is the Indiana chapter of the HWA) and whether or not it is worth a writer’s time. I am a member of ASM, the American Society of Microbiology. I don’t hear a lot of arguments like “what can the ASM do for me?” “Is it worth my time?” It’s a resource. As an organization, the HWA can do things and fight battles that I can’t. And, like any other professional organization, I get out of it what I put into it. I don’t need it to network, I don’t need it to help me to the next step in my career, but I do need it to exist and I think a lot of writer’s benefit from its existence. The IHW is my public face of the HWA (not the message board). That’s when I truly get to interact with other horror writers and we get to share and learn from one another.

All that being said, part of what inspired me is the mission of the HWA: to be a benefit to other writers. Why else exist if you can’t help out other writers? The main thing that keeps me from a whole lot of activity within HWA is the fact that I don’t have a lot to add. I still consider myself fairly new, and though I’m serious about my craft and improving it, I don’t have a lot of experience worth contributing. So when the opportunity arose that I could actually contribute something, like visiting J.N. Williamson, I jumped at it.

I think it’s the same way in church. People fret about what “gifts” they have, and even once they figure out what it is they have to contribute, they often don’t find the opportunities to do so.

This gets me, quite conveniently, to my second point. Everything to me is ministry, or put another way, mission work. I rather like the idea of our “ministry” to J.N. Williamson being one that united Protestants, Catholics, and Wiccans. However, I was also thinking about missionary work in a broader sense, too. This week, I have several friends who are taking off for Mozambique and Kenya to do various short term missions projects.

I have nothing against mission trips per se, but I think our emphasis of them has led to two things:

1) we’ve lost the idea that we’re all living mission trips. Our neighborhoods, our work place, our chance encounters, they are as much a valid mission work as any trip.
2) we forget, or at least lose a bit of the idea, that mission work is a process not an event. We “gear up” for mission trips. Look at what we do: stock supplies, raise funds, go to some faraway place, spend a week or two, come back transformed. For a month or so. (I wonder if this makes the trip more about “us” than about serving. There’s something so … self-congratulatory about mission trip reports. Then again, even my blog has an air of self-congratulation about it.) Mission work shapes us as much as it does the people we go to serve, but one time events aren’t nearly as impactful as a six month, year long, or lifetime dedicated to serving in the mission field that is your life.

Though, don’t get me wrong: both types of mission trips have their place. There’s so much work to be done, so few people willing to do it, I’m not about to crap on people who get out and do stuff. Whatever it is.

Comment on this bit of rantus interruptus anyway you want (I don’t know where you’re reading it from) but if you want to guarantee me seeing it, do so at my message board.