Yesterday, I ponied up another year’s dues and renewed my membership with The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And I was happy to do so. I find a lot of value in the organization, and for the most part, I find my fellow members to be among the best sort of people.
That’s not to say SFWA is one big happy family. Like any organization that includes a broad array of personalities, beliefs and identities, SFWA has had its share of controversy. I’ve no desire to get into the details here, except to say that I believe that the vast majority of the stuff you may have heard about are the actions of a very few people who seem to think that being on the Internet, or even simply being a writer, absolves them from the need for basic decency and civility. (It doesn’t, by the way.)
The vast majority of folks in SFWA are good people and good writers who want to broaden the reach of the genres and protect the interests of authors. These are very worthy pursuits, and that’s why I support SFWA with my membership and involvement.
SFWA has benefited me personally, I should add. Mary Robinette Kowal worked on behalf of SFWA and its members to clear the way for Skyhorse Publishing’s takeover of Night Shade Books. If that deal had fallen through, The Daedalus Incident might not have seen the light of day, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to sign on for two sequels. As you can imagine, I remain grateful to Mary and to the organization.
Furthermore, I’ve been a featured member and featured book on the SFWA web site, which has sent nearly 600 pageviews to this blog over the past year. I’m also keyed into @SFWAauthors, the Twitter feed that rebroadcasts my blog entries to nearly 2,000 fellow authors and fans. I did SFWA-sponsored signings at the Nebulas and WorldCon last year, and I hope to do them at BookExpo America and DragonCon this year. I also help out where I can, manning the SFWA booths at the conventions I attend and occasionally helping out with publicity stuff.
SFWA is a diverse collection of voices, all of whom are adding to “the literature of the fantastic” in a wide variety of ways. There are increasing numbers of people of color, diverse sexual identities and a broad spectrum of political and religious beliefs. I consider this a very, very good thing. For the most part, folks treat each other with respect and collegiality on a day-to-day basis.
Yes, there will be infighting and egos and occasional blow-ups. We’re writers. It takes a goodly sized ego to think that you can tell a story that the general public wants to read. You won’t find me involved in these spats, though; I don’t have the time nor stomach for it. Plus, I have a daughter who will inevitably check out my online presence when she’s old enough, and I want her to see that her father has conducted himself well.
She’ll also see that I’ve continued to be a part of the organization that helped me get my start. And that’s a good lesson too.
If you’re an author of science fiction or fantasy, I urge you to check out SFWA and, if you’re eligible, apply for membership. (Note: The organization is currently working on pathways to membership for self-published authors, so stay tuned.) Despite its flaws and the occasional flame war, I find it a truly worthwhile organization, and I’m proud to be a member.