I’m taking a break from Twitter, because it feels like a good time to do it. I’m allowing myself to read some Twitter over lunch, and then I close it up. I’m not posting, and it’s a strange thing.
Still, today at lunch I saw that Marshall Ryan Maresca started a thread about the kind people in SFF, since of late it seems the way to make your name in SFF is to be a hulking jackass. So, here are the people who were kind to me when I was beginning this journey.
The first place I really admitted I wanted to be a writer was ConJose. I signed up for the writer’s workshop was was positively terrified. Another writer and I were assigned to three pros, and they would demolish and improve the stories we had submitted for the workshop.
The evening prior to the workshop, there was a little get together for the writers. I was told I couldn’t bring my convention partner, since it was just for writers who had signed up for the workshop and some other pros who might drop in. I knew literally no one, so did the thing where you come in and hover near a wall that desperately needs holding up.
When I summoned the courage to say hello to someone I had shared anthology space with, I was gently brushed to the side, so crossed the room, and took up a new post, where I continued to watch. And then someone said hello.
It was Devon Monk. She sat with me, and made me feel less alone. She asked me about my writing and I have no idea what I said, because guys, Devon Monk had a story in the new Realms of Fantasy and my socks were blown OFF. The idea that she would sit and chat me up was miraculous. Never underestimate what a single hello can do for a person.
Ann Chamberlin was the one pro at the workshop the next day who didn’t thoroughly decimate the story I submitted. She kindly told me the story was actually a novel, which gave me the notion I could write a novel — and which I then did — and though it’s a mess, and still unpublishable to this day, I learned so much, and think I am approaching knowing how to make the book work. (This book is the one that sits in the back of your head forever, whispering until you do something about it.)
Two editors who were kind would be Ellen Datlow and Don Muchow.
Don ran the magazine Would That It Were, which was highly up my alley, being a magazine of historical science fiction and fantasy. Finding that place was like finding my people. Don was always kind and encouraging, even when a story didn’t work for him.
Three years after ConJose, it was Ellen Datlow who bought my first circus story, for SciFiction. It was Ellen who took the time to tell me what a unique voice the story had and encouraged me to write more in that world.
Every genre will have its jackasses, but I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve found more lovely people than not along the way. Writers and editors who showed me how it was done. I hope I can pay it forward, too.