I belong to the Kansas Authors Club, a state organization for people who live in Kansas and are writers. The state is divided into seven districts, and each district sets its own agenda for meetings. In early October, all the districts come together for the state convention. I attended this year's convention only a few weeks ago.
My district includes a good number of small communities and several decent size towns. In the past, members met in a centrally located town for a two hour meeting which included a program, a short business meeting, and a time for those who wanted to read their work to the group. It was also a time for networking with other writers.
Many of the members have not published anything but continue to write and still have an interest. Others are published many times over and continue to write and market their work. Like too many organizations, we are an aging group.
Our numbers have diminished due to death, illness, and inability to drive long distances to attend meetings. Another problem has been the "No, I'm not going to take any responsibility in this group" syndrome. No one works hard to find new, and younger, members. Apathy has creeped across the group. And once that happens, a terminal illness is not far behind.
When I was at the convention, I noticed that other districts seemed to be doing much better. Was it because of having large cities like Topeka, Lawrence, and the suburban area of Kansas City to draw from? It had to be a factor but certainly not the only reason.
The seven districts take turns planning and hosting the state convention. Our turn is in 2012. I wondered how in the world we'd pull it off. But one man, a poet who has several published books, stepped up at the state meeting with a suggestion. "We need to start planning the convention," he said. "I'll appoint myself as Convention Chairman."
It was the spark we needed. Bill set a meeting date via e-mails and then followed up with phone calls to the members. We met yesterday to select a slate of officers for this year and to do some pre-planning for the convention. I noted enthusiasm building around the table where we sat. Bill had spoken to several prior to the meeting and had a slate prepared. He radiated an attitude of "we can do it" so well that soon the suggestions were coming in fast and furious.
Before the meeting ended, Bill had everyone believing we can revive our district and also do a good job planning and hosting the convention. We're also on the march to find new members. All it took was a spark from one person. We had not met as a district for over a year, but not only did we meet yesterday, we have another meeting scheduled next month. I sensed a new life for this group.
The power of one person can be great. Can you be that one person who puts the pizzazz back into a dying group of writers?