I have in-laws arriving in 72 hours, my guest room looks like a hurricane blew threw it, my refrigerator contains the cure for cancer in one of those fuzzy green containers, I have to make sure I go get the requisite Cheerios for paternal consumption, stock the pretty basket with tropical fruit, locate my Hawaii driving tour CDs, and pack for a cruise that commences in less than a week. (And a million other things, you can bet.)

So why am I paying attention to the PRO debate raging throughout blogland?

Because, as usual, it brings out the romance bashers, usually anonymous and usually in the comments trails.

Anna Genoese first discussed PRO here. I don't necessarily disagree with her. She's an editor and, as such, she gets to say what she wants to see in a query. If she doesn't care about PRO status, then don't give it to her. If she wants to know that you enjoy doing yoga naked while writing love scenes, then by golly tell her that.

Unfortunately, I think I detect from her post that some idiot (or a group of idiots) got carried away with the PRO thing in queries. For the record, I do have my PRO status. I didn't apply for it for a long time because I didn't think it mattered a hill of beans. I thought it was just another salve to soothe the unpublished soul.

But I finally decided to join when I wanted to know what went on in the PRO loops. And, by gum, there's a lot of good stuff there! A lot of talented, smart people who discuss things that matter. No questions about font or how to move a character from room A to room B without narrating every single step.

OTOH, PRO is ridiculously easy to join. Finish a manuscript, mail it to an editor or agent, show proof of completion and mailing, and you're in. I'm going to guess that most people are conscientious enough to try to send out their best work, but I'm sure there are those who dash off a mss, mail it, and get the pin so they can get preferential treatment at National.

PRO is great in that it's meant to encourage writers to finish a manuscript. Many people want to write, many write partials, not everyone finishes a mss. Kudos to those who do. I believe PRO is a good program.

But you know, I don't think it matters what RWA does or says. We are open to ridicule simply because the word “romance” is contained in our name. If you had to have an agent, three books under consideration, and your RWA number tattooed on the inside of your lip to be a PRO, you'd still find folks who'd ridicule it.

And perhaps PRO is the wrong name anyway, as the connotation suggests (to me) someone with several books in print. But what the hell else are they going to call it? RWA-Almost There? RWA-I Did It? RWA-Done One?

Miss Snark also weighs in. Again, she isn't wrong, but see the comments trail for RWA bashing (and some darn fine defenses of the program). It's always interesting how writers in other genres, published or not, love to heap scorn on RWA. Then again, if the unpubs could join their respective organizations, they might not be so snide toward us. Yeah, we got our problems, that's for sure. But RWA took me in when I didn't know diddly and taught me a lot. It will always have my undying gratitude and respect for that.

So be proud you're a PRO. But don't think it means more than it does. It's simply a step on the ladder.