The first event I went to was the AGM and Summer Party. Not knowing anybody, I nervously chose a seat towards the back, surrounded by empty seats. Not for long. Soon I had a neighbour who introduced herself and, as the AGM proceded, gave me a whispered running commentary about the various issues being discussed. Then, at the party, she introduced me to an agent and several other members. Up and running, with a couple of glasses of wine inside me, I managed to chat to lots of people including five agents and a couple of editors.
At the time I thought I'd struck lucky, but experience has shown me that the RNA must be the friendliest and most supportive organisation ever. I think it must be impossible to stand alone and unspoken to at an RNA gathering. Unlike many other writing organisations, the unpublished are welcomed and encouraged, and there's an excellent feedback scheme for them. There are regional chapters, and an on-line chapter where everyone can contribute and all are treated equally, from the newest of new writers to the bestselling novelist. Throughout the year there are various meetings with interesting speakers and a conference, as well as the Summer and Winter parties and the annual Awards lunch.
I've made many good friends through the RNA and if you've a writing question, whether it's about research, craft or support, there's always someone who knows the answer. The speaker was right. If you're writing a relationship novel - be it rom com, chick lit, hen lit, HMB, saga, contemporary women's fiction, romance - then you should join the RNA.