Throwback Thursday, special edition.
Me, as a young science fiction and fantasy lover. Or, portrait of the speculative fiction writer as a kid.
I've been a science fiction and fantasy fan since I was a toddler soaking in Star Trek, the original series, and believing tribbles were real at four years old. As most avid readers do, I sought out what I wanted and it was, by and large from a very young age, speculative stories (with a leavening of mystery)
, that hodge podge, cephaloid-armed armageddon of work that spills out messily from under the science ficton, fantasy, horror, and literary, umbrella(s). I loved language, I loved wonder, I loved possibility, and I loved a well told story--page turner married to a drunken spirit of poetry was and is my ideal.
I also loved and sought out movies and television shows with any whiff of the skiff about them. But while I was a 'fan' in that sense of the word, I had no notion of fandom and did not actually encounter it until I went to Clarion West--after
grad school, writing fellowships, and a masters in creative writing (a degree of questionable use). Here were people, finally, who loved a lot of the things I'd spent my life thus far loving. I was more formally introduced to fandom as a phenomenon when I went to my first convention after Clarion West.
It was an odd experience, not entirely enjoyable at all, those first few conventions. It was all so familiar, but I was kind of an outsider, because most of these people knew one another and had for years. Being suddenly an outsider with respect to the enthusiasms and loves that had, for much of life, constituted my safest, happiest place, was disorienting.
And the thing is, with respect to my reading and other media loves and enthusiams, I have pretty much always gone my own way. Awards are cool; they can be helpful in clueing one in to good stuff one may not have otherwise known about. Often, however and also, award lists have left me kind of scratching my head, because I check out the work and it's, nope, not for me. That said, as a SFWA member, I have nominated for the Nebulas, and voted, and have, in general, been glad to see more works I find interesting and worthwhile on the lists in the last handfuls of years. I can almost never afford to go to World Con and so have only participated in the Hugos twice.
I wish...well; I feel bad for everyone in fandom, because there are a lot of lovely people of good will and their award has been hijacked by asshats. (if you have no clue what I'm talking about and you care at all, just search on Hugo award and you'll find it)
The only award I ever really dreamed of getting is the Mythopoeic, because the writers I most love seem to get that one. But my parameters and measures of the thing called a writing career, of success, expectations, and awards, have been much squished and squashed by life and its viscissitudes. (The SNL lowered expectations ditty plays in my mind.) I will have a dayjob until I retire (or get disability, given current health stuff), so a lot of the concerns of writers who have to make a living off their books are not ones I feel like taking on board. Since the big SFF awards only seldom seem to love what I love and strive for, they have never loomed with great relevance. Yes, like any writer, I wish my work was more recognized, taken up, published and enjoyed, and awards are one way to support that. But I would, ultimately, rather keep writing what I most want to write, eke out my little career, and enjoy my little byways and side roads away from the madding crowd.
I keep thinking, for perhaps obvious reasons, of Katherine Dunn, who I was lucky to have as one of my Clarion teachers, reading from a work in process at the weekly Clarion reading series. The scene she read was one of the most powerful, gripping, depth charge in the mind creating bits of a novel I have ever heard. I have wanted to read the book from which she was reading many times since then (and this was 20 years ago, now) and it has never yet appeared. I remember commiserating about it with Lucius Shepard a couple years later.
We're here, and then we go. I would rather think about that amazing passage, work on my own twisty stories, celebrate, wherever I find them, beauty, kindness, and wonder wrestled from pain, loss, and ugliness--would rather do that than give any internal real estate to the asshats.