Life is all perspective.
That lesson got driven home this weekend, when I attended my first Nebula Awards weekend as a professional writer. The Nebs are pretty much the Oscars for the Science Fiction and Fantasy writing community, and are hosted annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
It’s a lot like you’d imagine: ball gowns, tuxedos, the Hilton ballroom, those obnoxious little carrots they put on your plate to ensure you don’t forget you’re eating haute cuisine. It’s the event that gives the lie to the fannish cons where we wear costumes or t-shirts with ironic sayings (like a picture of the galaxy with a little arrow reading YOU ARE HERE). At the Nebs, the nerds clean up, and we clean up damn well.
The Nebs are full of SFWA vets. I was a guest at the Ace/Roc table (Ace and Roc are Penguin-Putnam’s two science fiction and fantasy imprints. My upcoming book CONTROL POINT will be on one of them, probably Ace) and sat beside Jack McDevitt and across from Joe Haldeman. Michael Whelan was there, as were Paolo Baciugalupi, John Scalzi, Lee Martindale, Connie Willis, Michael Swanwick, Bud Sparhawk, Stan Schmidt and those are just the names I’m pulling from the top of my head. It was a veritable who’s-who of the biggest names in the genre.
And, as I said, they’re vets. For many of them, full time life in SF/F literature is a twenty years under the bridge already. Nebs-Schmebs. This is just another day.
Like I said, perspective. That wasn’t how it was for me.
You’ve got to remember that I’ve been reading and admiring these people since I was a kid. The Nebulas, and the scene around them, has always been my Asgard. Walking through those hotel doors was like ascending Mount Olympus.
I had this great realization as Michael Dirda was making his keynote speech. He went on for some time, thanking the many writers who had labored so hard to create works that gave him and SF/F fans all over the world so much pleasure and satisfaction, and he expressed delight at the fact that they would continue for years to come.
And my heart sang, because I realized he was talking about me. Now I get the chance to have some nerdy kid pick up my book and get sucked into a world that will lead him down the garden path to comic-book addiction, hours sunk into role-playing games, blowing his weekly allowance on mass-market paperbacks. I finally get a chance to step into this genre that has shaped my life from its earliest days and pay it back for everything it’s ever done for me.
I got to sit down with Paolo Bacigalupi and talk at length about his groundbreaking novel, The Windup Girl. I got to go out to dinner with Ginjer Buchanan, Ace/Roc’s Editor-in-Chief and talk about her road in the publishing industry. I got to hold Harlan Ellison’s award for Best Short Story. I got to knock back scotches with Laura Anne Gilman, who has fifteen novels to her tale. I got to pose for a picture with Catherine Asaro (who I have been in desperate puppy love with since I read The Last Hawk). People whose work I had been admiring, whose careers I have been following my entire life. And it almost seemed like some of them were actually taking me seriously.
I know I’ll get over myself. I know this bloom will fade and the hard realities of work and money and the turmoil in the publishing industry will set in. I know that next year likely won’t be like this. I won’t be the new kid on the block forever.
But for now? I am high as a f&$king kite, and I am determined to enjoy it for at least another day before I get back in the dirt and start pushing.