In preparation for the coming Future Lovecraft book launch coming up on Dec. 3rd, I was down at the Merril Collection earlier today – well, technically yesterday, now – and I was sifting through a box containing the copies of the anthology available for sale at the launch.
Given that I am one of the contributors to the anthology I have seen the galley for Future Lovecraft. I have read it over several times, both to skim for errors and because I love reading and rereading fiction.
But, flipping through the actual print copy of the anthology, something occurred to me that hadn’t really hit home until now. My story is actually in print. In an anthology.
I’m a very tactile and visual person by nature. For me, the world exists not solely in the abstract, but in the experience of the senses as well. So, as someone who had never sold fiction until this year, and as someone who had never held a book with their own name staring back up at them, I realized something.
I have been saying I’m a writer for a very long time. I have never doubted this. It has always been the direction my life was taking, and I would not have it be otherwise. But, standing in the Merril Collection, talking with Kim Hull and Annette Mocek, friends and Merril librarians both, it suddenly struck me that here in my hands was incontrovertible proof that I am not only a writer by my own definition, but validated as such by others, and by people I respect immensely (Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles).
My story in Future Lovecraft was not my first sale – actually, it was my second – but I think it will forever be this story where I can actively say:
“Yes, it was this story that truly made me a writer. It was here that I stood text in hand and felt the rightness of that appellation with a clarity I did not previously possess. Here I took up the mantle proper.”
It is an extraordinary feeling to witness a turning point in someone’s life, even moreso when that life is your own. And it strikes me while I sit here writing this that writers, authors and poets have a truly singular gift given to us every time we sell a piece of fiction, or have it reprinted in an anthology, or a year’s best collection. You can see it in the exultations and communal congratulations and genuine good feelings that come with such announcements.
I do not know if the level of camaraderie that exists in the SF community exists in the Lit writers’ community – being a part of the former and somewhat removed from the latter I simply do not know. I should hope it exists in both, for it is an absolute joy to be a part of the former, and to behold that sense of shared triumph. Perhaps this is why I so enjoy being a part of the SF community. There is so much togetherness here. Even for someone like myself, who is in so many ways both a novice and on the outskirts of things in this strange, brave, new, and terrifying world, there is an extraordinary acceptance.
I am constantly amazed at the number of people whose work I idolize that I actually know and talk to on a regular basis. And still more that I stand among them and neither feel, nor am treated, as an interloper, but instead as a compatriot. Greener perhaps, still rough around the edges, but in like company nonetheless. Time and again it strikes me that this person whose work I read and enjoy I call friend. And this person whose work I idolize, I work with. And this one. And this one. And here I have shared praise, and here it has been given, by people far more seasoned and published than I. And yet, I am accepted for that which I do because I cannot do other – because I cannot refrain from telling stories, or from living in and through images and form and prose.
It is a very strange and wonderful feeling to be acknowledged for the things that one does because one must; these things that one does because they fill the soul and beg to be set free in whatever form will let them soar.
It is all still a bit much to take in, really.
I would wish this wonderful, exultant, glorious feeling for you all. For those of you who have already published that it be repeated, and for those who have yet to sell and be published that you know this feeling soon, for it is singular, and marvelous. And for those of you who fear that your work is not there and will not be, this is not true. It will be. Give it time. It is still growing its wings.
And these triumphs do not fade, nor are they lesser for the waiting. Shared by friends and in a greater sense of community they are an extraordinary gift. One that does not tarnish with age nor repetition.
I wish this for you all.