Not a Campaign Statement
Leslie S. Klinger, HWA Treasurer
This is not a campaign statement. But I had to write mine the other day, and so I had to think about the things I’m going to talk about.
First, how did I get to be treasurer of the HWA? I vaguely know that one–back in 2007, when I was about to publish New Annotated Dracula, I said to myself, “You ought to belong to the HWA. It’ll be good for the book.” (My previous book was New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, and I joined the Mystery Writers of America based on the same thought-process.) So I did. There was no Los Angeles Chapter back then, but there was a conference in Los Angeles (World Horror, as I recall), and I attended. I met a bunch of people, one of them, as I recall, being Rocky Wood, who was also writing nonfiction. Somehow Rocky and I got to talking with Deborah Blanc, who was then the president, and she pushed us both to get involved.
Now, by day, I’m a lawyer, and I work with various nonprofit organizations, so my ego told me that I had something to contribute. I think my first real involvement was a committee on reforming the bylaws and the Stokers. I enjoyed pitching in, and, never being shy, I found that my opinions were welcome (if not necessarily agreed with). One thing led to another, and someone asked me to serve on the board. I did, and I found that this larger forum gave me even more opportunities to express my views (always a treat for a lawyer) and possibly help the organization to a better place. When Rocky became president, Lisa Morton—who had been the treasurer for a long time—moved up to vice-president, and they asked me to be the treasurer. I can balance a checkbook, so I said yes.
The job of treasurer turns out to have less to do with money than with serving as part of the unofficial “cabinet” of the four officers of the HWA. As such, I was able to take an even bigger role in helping the organization. I’ve been doing that for a while now, and it’s really satisfying.
So, the second question: Why? ‘Way back when I joined, it seemed to me that being a member of the HWA would be good for sales of my book. That was probably true, but the amount of additional sales was negligible compared to the effort. However, I discovered that there were a number of better reasons. First, I got to meet and hang out with people that I really liked. I liked that we liked many of the same things and had to deal with many of the same problems. And, of course, those friendships are not just book-oriented—they’re about real personal relationships, families, day-job problems, and so on. Second, I could help other writers achieve some of the success that I’ve been extremely fortunate to have. (My “how-to-get-an-agent” story is useful only if you’re a nonfiction writer!) I’ve dealt with publishers and agents and publicity folks a lot, it turns out, and my experiences can be helpful to others with less experience. Third, I could help the organization help those writers, by making it run better and be more inclusive and comfortable.
If all this sounds a little impractical, a little idealistic, I think of it this way. It’s not a burden being involved—it’s a pleasure. I enjoy the company of writers, and I feel better about myself for giving back. So in fact, being involved with the HWA is a purely selfish act. Try it!