Browsed by
Category: The Journey

Achievement Unlocked: Analog Science Fiction & Fact

Achievement Unlocked: Analog Science Fiction & Fact

So a few weeks ago I was at the Nebula Awards weekend for the first time–which was amazing on so many levels and was definitely my favorite convention to date, and about which more some other time maybe. I spent Friday morning in the hotel room to get some writing done, and I came down to the restaurant feeling pretty good about things, as one does when one has just pounded out 3000+ words before getting out of bed. I went looking for John, and found him having lunch at a table in the corner with a woman and three men, none of whom I had met.

So I approach, and John introduces me around the table: Joe Haldeman, Robert Silverberg, Gay Haldeman…!!! (Let’s just pause there for a moment, shall we? ::pause:: ::geekout:: Right. Moving on.) We come around to the last guy at the table–about John’s age, also bald, smiling. He shakes my hand and says, “Hey, I’m Trevor–we haven’t met yet, but we were just about to, because I’m accepting your story.”

I do my absolute best to keep my cool as I thank him and tell him that I look forward to his edits (“Actually, it was pretty clean…” *YAY*). We chat a bit about how they’re catching up on the slush &tc. as I try to act like a professional who is not completely shocked at having sold a story and inside is jumping up and down like a four-year-old because it’s my first sale to the Big Three and OMG ANALOG I never ever thought I’d write something that Analog would take and OMG.

Meanwhile Joe and Gay and Robert are all smiling across the table at us. I become acutely self-conscious, and apologize for derailing their lunch.

“No, no, this is great to see. I’m glad we were here for this,” says Joe Haldeman.

“I remember that feeling,” Robert Silverberg says. “And it’s a GOOD feeling.”

Yes. Yes it is. :D

Office archaeology

Office archaeology

I pity the person who tries to make sense of my notes in the future. I have up to five notebooks going at once, and make notes on whatever is on my mind in whichever one is closest to hand, and if one isn’t nearby I’ll write on whatever is. Anyway, it makes for some fun excavation at times.

I just came across a little Moleskine I kept in my purse in 2009.  And in it I found this:

Notebook Page

Two things are very cool about this to me:

1. I remember that Twitter conversation with Tobias Buckell. It made a huge difference at a time when I was feeling really low and that awesome writerly self-loathing that we’re all so good at had set in. (My friend Adam wrote eloquently about that at Inkpunks today–go look.) I didn’t know Toby at all at the time–since then we’ve met at conventions a couple of times and have a number of mutual friends, but at the time he was a professional author who took the time to give a pep talk to a despondent and unpublished stranger, and I was (and remain) deeply grateful. I’m really glad I have this reminder. I hope I can do the same for someone else some day.

2. This is the first note I ever made on Blight*, and I love that I just found this, because my friend Jeffrey Scott Petersen and I turned Blight into a pretty cool story just last fall, and we sold it a couple of weeks ago to Zombie Sky Press for an upcoming anthology.

Regarding that self-loathing and stuff–Adam’s Inkpunks post really nails it, I think, in that these kinds of blocks are all about fear. I know that I am personally terrified of falling flat on my face with this novel, and it keeps me from working on it. But not this weekend! This weekend I’m off to a retreat with a few other ladies and we are going to WORK IT. So if I’m scarce for a few days, that’s why: I’m in the desert with friends, facing my creative fears. :)

* [ETA: I think it is, but who knows, there may be another notebook floating around somewhere.]




August, 2002. It’s the middle of the night. There is a newborn Gracie sleeping in her swing behind me, because she has a cold and it’s easier for her to breathe and sleep sitting propped up like that. Danni is asleep in her room, getting a good night’s rest; she’s about to start third grade.* My life is made of bottles and diapers and laundry and multiplication tables. Grace’s dad and I were both recently laid off and so have the luxury of sleeping in shifts so that we can each get a full eight hours; I have taken the night shift.

I’ve given up on World News Tonight and am sitting at our faux-Mission-style Kmart desk, staring at the computer screen. I’m 30 years old, and I have recently decided that it’s time for me to start writing again. I’ve realized that writers don’t just spring fully formed from the brow of Zeus, they actually learn how to do it, and they practice. I now have some experience both mentoring and being mentored in other areas of life, and I know that there are people out there who can help me learn how to achieve my goals, people who I can learn the craft from. So I search the web.

First I find Holly Lisle’s website, and join Forward Motion–my first steps into the writing community.

And I find the SFWA website. I read every article they have posted: about writing, about publishing, about the business, about the craft. These are pros I’m reading, the people I want to learn from, and I’m trying to take it all in. I want to know what to expect, and I’m getting that from these articles. It takes me a few nights; when I’m done I go back and read them all again.

Ten years, I say to myself. Ten years seems reasonable. I could be a member in ten years.

Flash forward to 2006, and I’m in my 6×12 office that we’ve built in the garage specifically as a writing space. The room smells heavily of the pumpkin spice fragrance oil I got at Pier 1. I’m positioned at the heavy oak desk we bought at the salvage store. I’ve been to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and have learned how to workshop. I’m on the SFWA site reading Myrtle the Manuscript for what, maybe the fifth time? Because now I’m finally finishing things and sending them out in large manila envelopes with SASEs, and I want to remind myself what I’m in for. I’m eager to collect my first rejection. I plan to frame it and hang it here beside my desk.

Six more years, I think. I’m on my way.

Present day: This morning I made my third professional sale. I am so proud to be a part of this book. It was a difficult story for me to write, because the subject matter is so far outside my comfort zone, and I did it on short notice. I worked very hard, really challenged myself, and it paid off. It’s a very satisfying feeling.

But what rivals that is that today I upgraded my SFWA membership from Associate to Active.

Grace is nine years old now. I gave myself ten years, and I did it in nine.

I’m not sure why this is such a big deal to me. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never set a long-term goal like that before. To say “I will do this thing in ten years” and then keep taking those steps, one day at a time, and wake up one day and find that I’m here, and a year early–I’m proud of myself. I want to hug that 2002 me, and the 2006 me, and the 2008 me that was getting really tired, and the 2010 me that was so sure that first sale was a total fluke and it was never going to happen again.

So if you’re out there trudging, take heart. Every day is bringing you closer to your goal. One foot in front of the other. Keep going.

I reached a milestone today, but the journey ain’t over.

Back to work.

* edited for bad math.