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A Minor Rant... - Michael M Jones

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March 16th, 2007


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02:31 am - A Minor Rant...


So John Scalzi has reluctantly thrown his hat into the ring as a write-in candidate for SWFA, based on a lack of suitable opponents to the current uncontested candidate. (http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/004960.html) He presents a logical, informed, and intelligent platform for SFWA's future growth and success, and I want to see him succeed, despite his assurances to the contrary that he doesn't want the job, he just doesn't want the current guy to have it.

This brings me to my rant, though. I'd totally vote for him. If I could. Which I couldn't. I've only had one professional fiction sale that counts towards membership requirements (I've had three altogether, but one was to a webzine which folded fairly quickly, and the third was a reprint of the second sale) and you need 1 novel, 3 short stories, or 1 screenplay to qualify for full active membership. I count as an Associate, which is a vague step up from my previous status as Affiliate (gained on the basis of being a at-the-time "editor" and reviewer). Nevertheless, I've been active in the field, and a member of SFWA for years. But only Actives can vote. Associates, Affiliates, Institutionals and so on can't run for office, vote for officers, nominate or vote for awards.

How screwed up is that? We're all part of the same field. We're all part of the same organization. And yet, unless you've sold your pieces of fiction, you don't have much of an official voice. Editors, publishers, reviewers, anthologists, agents, artists... none of them have a say in who runs SFWA UNLESS they've sold a novel. Are you telling me that the people actually putting out the books and magazines, the people brokering deals and negotiating contracts, all the people who help keep the market going so writers have somewhere to submit their work, those guys don't deserve a say in awards and leadership?

Look, I understand the organization is Science Fiction and Fantasy WRITERS of America, but if you're going to let the rest of the field in, why not give them a chance? As it stands, some guy who sold three short stories 20 years ago and has done nothing since besides pay his annual dues and show up to the parties, has more say in things than the people actually, actively involved in things today. I mean hey, I may only have a few stories under my belt, but I'd sure love to have a chance to vote for SFWA officers, or to nominate for the Nebulas, or to vote for them. 

I really hope this can be addressed someday.  Associates and Affiliates deserve the same voice as Actives, in my opinion.
That's my three cents.  If someone can provide a good rebuttal to this, feel free, but no flames, please. :> 


(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:rhonawestbrook
Date:March 16th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
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That was very informative...turns out I'm qualified to be a member, but didn't even know it!

Thanks!
[User Picture]
From:oneminutemonkey
Date:March 16th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
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Get thee to www.sfwa.org if you haven't already to read all about how to join and all that. And congrats. :>
[User Picture]
From:rhonawestbrook
Date:March 16th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
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What would a membership do for me?


[User Picture]
From:oneminutemonkey
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
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Good question. I guess you'll have to look around and see for yourself.
Honestly, I don't expect a lot out of SWFA, and I get about as much in return, not being a full, Active member. I do have access to their online forums, and the Bulletin, so I sometimes have knowledge of new/changed/open markets the general public may or may not be aware of. I also get the SFWA Directory, which has come in handy at times. And there are always the hot con parties.

I guess the biggest strength is just the access to the community and its shared information?

Your mileage may vary. I'm certainly not the ideal shill for SFWA, I can't sing its praises except to be all "Ooo, I'm in the same group as some of my most favorite writers of all time." :>

Sorry I'm not more help. :>
[User Picture]
From:rhonawestbrook
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
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LOL...thanks!
[User Picture]
From:static_entropy
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
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I thought about not responding to this, but hey, we're all reasonable people, so why not? Based on a very brief reading of the organization's website, it seems that their focus is writers, and that all the other types of entrants (editors, etc) are allied professionals. However, given that they see their constituency as writers, it doesn't seem to be unreasonable to set the bar for some minimal professional standard for entrance (3 shorts, etc). They welcome people from all parts of the industry, certainly, but their raison d'etre, as it were, is the science fiction writer.

I'm in the same boat with one (and possibly two) of the professional organizations I belong to. As a student, I can join the organizations, but there are limits to what I can do. Once I earn the professional credential for the industry they support, my membership fees go way up as do the privileges that come with that new status.

My take? Just keep writing, sell your 3, and step up. Keep at it, buddy. You'll get there. :)
[User Picture]
From:oneminutemonkey
Date:March 16th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
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And there's another thing.
As an Associate member, I pay the same dues as an Active. That's right, I pay the same money as the full-fledged members, and get less out of it. Sheesh. At least when I was just an Affiliate, I paid less money, but noooo, I just had to upgrade with my one big sale. :>
[User Picture]
From:static_entropy
Date:March 16th, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC)
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Ok, *that's* not right. I pay a CRAPTON less for BOTH my memberships as a student than either of them would cost if I had the credential in question. If you're not going to get the same level of service/access, you shouldn't pay the same amount.

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