As my journey as a published author continues, I’ve hit another milestone, and one which I’m especially excited about. I’ve qualified for membership into (and as of yesterday was accepted into) The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)!
*insert Kermit arm flail here*
For those of you not familiar with the SFWA, they’re a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres. Esteemed past members include Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, and Andre Norton. Some of the more well known current members are John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, and Chuck Wendig. Prestigious company to say the least. They’re a group who works hard for authors with programs like Writer Beware, and bringing to light instances where publishers might be taking advantage of authors. The path to publication is a tough one and it’s easy to get starry eyed. They take their roll of protecting author’s interests very seriously; that’s something I respect and support. The SFWA also nominates and votes on the Nebula award, one of the biggest awards in the genre.There are various levels of membership, each with its own requirements, and I’m thrilled to have been accepted as an active member, which is for authors and the only category which gets to vote on the Nebulas.
*another Kermit arm flail*
I don’t remember how old I was when I learned about the SFWA, but I remember how impressed I was with it, both in premise and make up. It’s members were some of my favorite authors, with talent I could only dream of having. I dreamt of being a published author and one day joining the SFWA. Of course since then, I’ve met other authors, some of whom are members, and learned that while they are incredibly talented, they’re also genuinely nice, down to earth people. Even someone like Scalzi, who has achieved amazing levels of success is still remarkably grounded. I wrote a post about meeting him which you can read here. Sure, there are exceptions, but by and large, they’re people I admire professionally for their skill/talent, and respect personally for how they use their success to help others. To be counted among their ranks is something I take no small measure of pride in. There are also some very practical reasons I’m happy to be a member.
- It’s a professional organization of writers and professionals in the literary world, some of whom have been doing it for several decades. That’s a huge pool of experience and wisdom to tap into, and so far they seem quite happy to share that knowledge.
- I now feel a certain level of legitimacy as a professional writer. Sure I have two books published with a major publisher (three by the end of the year) but I still feel, a lot of the time anyway, like I’m not “really” a writer. It might seem odd that something so simple can have such a profound internal effect, but I really feel like a legitimate, professional writer now. Go me!
- I’m not going to lie. The SFWA has a suite at some events where only members can go to hang out and relax. It’s like a private clubhouse and I get to go there now! I get to sit at the cool kids table! Don’t look at me like that. I make no apologies for my inner child delighting in this fact.
- I got a unicorn! Wait, sorry, I was just told I wasn’t supposed to mention the unicorn. Please ignore that one.
I know for a lot of people this might seem odd. I didn’t win any awards, or get any great accolades. I was accepted into a group (which has a membership fee) with some straightforward requirements. But the fact is, for me, I had to work to meet those requirements. My book had to achieve a certain level of success before I could be admitted. Reaching that level of success, and having it validated by a group of people I respect and admire is a very cool thing.