Tag Archives: robert j. sawyer

Writers and writers

I think that there is some kind of transition period between being just a fan of science fiction to being a science fiction writer. At least, that’s the way it is working out for me. Despite having some street cred (3 professional sales), I still look at other writers as if they are, well, Writers. I am not a naturally shy person, but I do get nervous around these Writers, and I know exactly why that it: I still think of them as demi-gods.

Part of it is that while I have some street cred, I don’t have a whole lot and I suppose there is a feeling of inadequacy surrounding that. I think to myself, here is this Science Fiction Writer who has sold dozens of stories, received countless award nominations, published several novels. They are so calm and self-assured about it all. And then there’s me, barely out of fandom with my 3 story sales. How can they possibly take me seriously? And yet, they usually do. They treat me like one of their own and yet they are still demi-gods to me.

I think I am doing better about trying to stand at eye-level with other professional science fiction and fantasy writers, but this whole notion of actually being a writer is sometimes still unsettling to me–in a good way. I’ve always wanted to do this, and I tried and tried and tried, and I was not a very good story-teller when I started out, but I kept at it until one day, I was just good enough. After that first sale, things started to get a little bit easier, and that is almost entirely due to the Writers who have treated me so kindly: Michael A. Burstein, Barry N. Malzberg, Robert J. Sawyer, Allen Steele, Jack McDevitt, to name just a few. These guys are my Babe Ruths and Mickey Mantles, and yet they’ve all taken me seriously as a writer. You would think that would make it easier to approach other writers at conventions, and introduce myself, but for some reason, that imagined wall is still there: they are Writers and I’m just a writer.

I’m hoping to finally surmount the imagined wall this year–or, as Pink Floyd urged, tear it down–but it is not an easy thing to do. I can’t quite seem to place myself at the same level of the Writers whose stories I’ve enjoyed for a couple of decades. But I’ll try.

I wonder if other writers at my stage feel the same way? There is a feeling that the first sale wasn’t a fluke because you had a second sale. And then there was that third sale to one of the Big Three that made you a Full Active SFWA member. To some extent you still can’t believe it. But you’re still tempted to hold up those three sales, dear as they are to you, against those Writers you love so much and think: gee whiz! this one here has sold forty stories; this one more than one hundred with a dozen nominations for various awards. Will I ever be that good? Meanwhile your still struggling to make that next sale. It is a fun struggle, I’ll grant that, but when you see these Writers operate, you can still glimpse the difference between a rookie and a Pro.

I have met other writers, in passing: Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury. There are some writers I will never get to meet: Isaac Asimov, Cyril Kornbluth, Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, L. Sprague de Camp. Those lost opportunities, gone forever are what motivate me most to meet those writers that I can meet. I always try to tell them how much I’ve enjoyed the stories they’ve written, how theirs has been an example to me. It comes off sounding mawkish, I think, but sincere nevertheless. And I try never to forget my own motto: that I am a fan first, and a writer second.

My 2010 Hugo and Nebula nominations

I’ve done my nominations for the Hugo and Nebula awards for 2010. There were several good novels and one superbly outstanding one. I didn’t read a whole lot of short fiction from 2010 so some of those categories are blank.  Nominations within each grouping are listed alphabetically by author.

Nebula Nominations

Best Novel

Best Short Story

Hugo Nominations

Best Novel

  • Echo by Jack McDevitt
  • WWW:Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Short Story

  • “Hope” by Michael A. Burstein (Destination:Future)
  • “What Will Come After” by Scott Edelman (What Will Come After)
  • “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You In Reno” by Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed, June 2010)

Best Related Work

malzberg_resnick.jpg

Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed)
  • Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Edmund Schubert (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show)
  • Sheila Williams (Asimov’s)

Best Dramatic Short Form

  • “Course Correction” (Episode 19 of ABC’s Flashforward) by Robert J. Sawyer

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

A quick comment on Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear. This is a single book that was split into two books by the publisher. This is not a series. There is no synopsis at the beginning of All Clear. All Clear starts exactly where Blackout left off and it is impossible to read that book and make any sense of it without having reading Blackout. I have therefore nominated the entire book, as written, for the Hugo and Nebula. I don’t know if this is allowed. I inquired on this but I haven’t yet gotten a response. It would seem remarkably silly to me to have to treat these books individually, but we’ll see how things turn out.

ETA: I have since learned that Blackout/All Clear is, in fact, being treated as one book.