A Greater Sense of Community

One of the things I love about being a science fiction and fantasy writer is the sense that SFF writers and fans are creating and enjoying something important together, and that we help each other do it. I’ve found the sense of community invaluable in my own writing career; it’s an invaluable boost to morale that there are other people out there who understand what you’re doing and maybe even cheer you on.

Early on, I found that helpful spirit in the online critique group Critters.org. It’s the same supportive spirit that you find behind pages such as Ralan.com or the short fiction submission tracking site The Grinder, and I continue to find support as a member of Codex Writers and SFWA. If you’re looking for resources for writing, you’ll find them.

If only Darth Vader had helped Luke rebuild his lightsaber…

It’s my impression that this sense of community has suffered over the last decade or so. There are fierce, even toxic debates between different factions of the SFF community, and more of them than when I started out around 2001. Political debates that are fundamentally American in nature have spilled into world SFF by influencing the Hugo Awards, among other things. I also sense from my social media streams that writers are increasingly prepared to pronounce the works of their colleagues ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – or denounce the people themselves.

I probably can’t change that. But! I would love to focus more on the cooperation and inspiration that is so much a part of the SFF community. This is the quiet stuff that keeps our culture alive but never makes headlines anywhere.

So this is an invitation to share a story from the SFF community where someone helped you along or gave you a good piece of advice or a word of encouragement.

I’ll go first:

I met another author at WorldCon in London in 2014, and as these things go, we happened got to talk about submitting stories, and I told her I would begin querying agents after WorldCon. She said something in the vein of “Yeah, that’s uphill. You’ve got to keep at it to make it work.”

Not the most encouraging message on the surface of it, but I think anyone who’s been submitting lots of stories knows exactly how accurate it is. And I think about that answer every time I get a rejection from an agent. Why? Because another writer understood what I was trying to do, knew how hard it was, and how the only way to succeed is to keep working on it. That is something the community of writers have in common, and it’s kept me going when the going got tough.

So please, share your stories here, or leave a link to a similar story on your own blogs. You’ll be doing your colleagues and yourself a favor by doing so.