In which our author waxes rhapsodic about volunteering for stuff.

In which our author waxes rhapsodic about volunteering for stuff.

As you good people know, I really like doing little volunteer things for the SFF community. Doing volunteer stuff makes me feel like I’m supporting something I love and believe in, and it has introduced me to some incredibly kind people. It adds to the To Do list, and takes time away from other things, but it is an investment I feel is absolutely worth it.

All three of my volunteer commitments seemed to evaporate over the past three months. I felt like I had finally started to get a handle on that narrating thing, and then didn’t hear any more from the Sofa. SFWA is in full Nebula-frenzy, but I haven’t seen a call for volunteers. I had picked up a slush reading gig for a Science Fiction podcast but the editor decided to move on to other things before I was inserted into the process. I have had a couple of moments – very brief ones – of wondering if I had done something wrong (especially with the narration, because I *know* my first two attempts weren’t great, but he only published the third, but maybe he got negative feedback? I’ll probably never know.) But I do put those fears aside pretty quickly and just move on. I’ll be available if they need me.

A couple of other slush reading opportunities have come up, and I haven’t applied for them, thinking that might be a little too much right this very moment. I figured there will be others in the future, and when I’m ready I will raise my hand.

And then today I saw a call for a fairly simple gig – writing show notes for a new podcast. The person asking for volunteers is someone I met at WFC, who was kind and tolerant of my opinions and n00b-level enthusiasm, and struck me as an all-around awesome person I would love to do work for. Fun assignment, great ‘boss,’ – I figured I’d throw my hat in and see what happened.

Result: I started off 2010 adding a bunch of new index cards to my Tasks boards and listening to a podcast none of you have heard yet (NEENER NEENER.) I am ridiculously happy about this opportunity.

Hint: the first episode is about zombies.

I’m always worried about talking about these things, naming names, etc. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m in it for name recognition or am doing it because I think I’m climbing some kind of ladder. That’s not it – it really doesn’t even work that way. Editors don’t print you because they like you or you did them a favor, they print you because they loved your story and it fit their market. Not everyone realizes that. So I don’t think that doing something like this really does anything to help my future career in any way.

I do it because I see the SFF community (perhaps naively) as something wonderful, humble, and whole. Very few get rich here. Very few get famous outside our own field. Ambitions are limited by that, in a lot of ways, to just making great art and telling great stories for five cents a word and the respect of our peers. It was hard to explain that to my family over Christmas – they all love me and want to see me in the New Yorker and pulling in $500k advances, and I had to gently explain to them that’s not going to happen. That’s not what I’m aspiring to. I’m aspiring to being a part of this community, in many different ways. Yes, I want to contribute my art to the pool, and I’ll get there, but in the mean time just being a part of it by writing some show notes, interacting on a business level with just one person who publishes stuff I have no interest in writing but has the respect of the community, and for good reason – that keeps me going. That makes me feel like I’m participating in sustaining this thing. Like I’m pulling my weight.

So we’ll hope that I don’t somehow manage to blow these show notes, and that this becomes something I can be a small, anonymous part of for a long time to come.

I doubt my new Boss will read this, but on the off chance that he does – thanks for getting my new year off to such a great start. Cheers.

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