Second Place, Baby!
It’s official, I have a professional fiction sale. Better than a sale, a win. Writers of the Future XXVI, fourth quarter, second place. (Oddly that sounds less impressive than it should.) My story will be in a book in bookstores. A book people will buy and read. I get an all expense paid trip to California for a week long workshop and award ceremony. My story will be illustrated by one of the talented winning artists. How cool is that? How cool is all of it?
I talked to Joni Labaqui, the contest coordinator, for about fifteen minutes. She seems quite nice, even laughed at my jokes. It’s not set as to when the workshop will be, but it’s a good bet I’ll have to take a week off school to attend. No matter; I’m going to the workshop. Meeting other winners, rubbing elbows with pros, making connections that are worth their weight in gouda…yeah, I’ll be there.
The best part of the whole thing is the sense that I am good at this writing thing. Small press sales are nice, but I’d never sold a story somewhere that made me say, “that’s proof I have a future as a writer.” Now I have.
Despite some suggestions that WotF’s workshop (combined with the status of the win) might be a sufficient repacement for Clarion, I am still planning to go if I’m accepted. It has changed my mind about which to attend. I had been heavily leaning one way (not to be revealed) if given the option, but now I think money will have more to do with the decision than anything. CW is cheaper, but if there are scholarships to be had, I could go either way. If things come out fairly even, I guess I resort to my old leanings.
It is eye-opening to see Clarion and Odyssey grads competing in WotF, many doing well time after time without winning. My only workshops have been the online variety. My winner, “Poison Inside the Walls”, was workshopped at SFF OWW as well as Baen’s Bar. I have no MFA…no formal writing training at all. I do have a decade of experience with token sales along the way (starting with the ProMartian turned Sam’s Dot Publishing zine, _The Fifth Di…_), a masters in math (which I don’t think came into play in the story), a bookcase shelf full of writing and science books, a deep vocabulary, a pretty solid mastery of punctuation and grammar, a solid if smallish list of SF readings, and enough humility to accept constructive criticism. Oh, and the drive to keep doing this for a decade.
Winning WotF can be done. It takes time and work, but the odds are a lot better than the lottery and the sense of accomplishment is much greater. I’ve never been the guy that wins things. This is a huge boon for me. I just hope I can build off it. I refuse to let this be the pinnacle of my career.