The SFWA

I don’t know exactly when I became aware of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. At a guess it was sometime in my pre-teens or very early teens. But I do remember the the feeling of awe I had when I thought of it. Here was an organization made up entirely of the people whose works I’d spent so many hours devouring. In my mind it was Nirvana.

I imagined a large private library, with bookshelves at least three stories high and those cool rolling ladders to get to all the books. There were display cases along the sides with esoteric paraphernalia, first editions and other prized possessions. And in this rarefied atmosphere the greatest minds in the world, writers of Science fiction and Fantasy, would gather. They’d filter in, taking seats in the overstuffed leather chairs and smoking cigars and pipes. The assembled geniuses would talk amongst themselves, and it would all be brilliant. Witty repartee, learned discussions, heated but polite arguments. Even some hijinks, on occasion. After all, most of my favorite authors had well developed sense of humor. There you’d find Asimov and Saberhagen exchanging bon mots, Heinlein holding forth on some societal ill. There’d be a round table discussion consisting of Arthur C. Clarke, JRR Tolkien, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, Roger Zelazny, and Anne McCaffrey.

That was what a meeting of the SFWA was in my mind. I never articulated it, really gave it a lot of thought, but it still held a very special place in my head. This was all before I ever gave any thought to doing any writing of my own. I never even considered the idea that I might one day be able to join the august ranks of the SFWA. It never crossed my mind.

When I made an attempt to writye my own fiction I discovered the reality. SFWA really is a sort of hybrid between a social club and a professional organization. It does a lot of things for it’s members and for non members as well. It has a medical fund, offers help with contracts, helps resolve disputes with agents and publishers, holds banquets, and presents the Hugo Award every year. What it isn’t is that fantasy I constructed. Which is just as well, that would have a been a tough crowd.

But recent events have shown it to be even less of a professional organization and not even much of a social club. I’m not going to bother with a recap of those events, you can find the pertinent info here. The result, for me, is that SFWA looks like a haven for curmudgeons (and not terribly amusing ones) who are desperately trying to avoid the future they write about. And that the whole running of the organization is on shaky grounds.

So, if I ever do take another stab at writing fiction (I will take another stab, someday) and by some miraculous chance, qualify for membership, would I join? HELL YEAH! Are you kidding? Me? Join SFWA? In a hot second! The very idea that I might be able to join this organization, even the reality based version I’ve been talking about with all it’s warts and problems, fills me a sort of glee. Because whaever else it might be, it’s still the place I’ve been dreaming for all this time and if the reality doesn’t fit the dream, that’s okay. The reality is still pretty damn cool.

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