This weekend I went to a local convention called Philcon, where I had the pleasure of attending several interesting panels, laughing at a lot of fandom humor, and getting my picture taken with Samuel R. Delany.
I went for a few reasons, namely it being a good excuse to go on an adventure with my parents, who are also creative, and to meet local folks who love this thing that I also love. On this score, it was exactly what I wanted, and I had a good time.
But what I kept noticing as I listened is that honestly, no one knows how any of this works. The subjectivity of it all is the only consistency, from querying authors or editors, to what makes a good hook or a believable story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grandmaster of Science Fiction or a short story writer in your own imprint, we’re all just trying to share stories and our love for this art.
Which, even if it is frustrating, is sort of comforting, isn’t it? There are no impostors because everyone is someone’s version of “the perfect fit,” and all we can do is hope that we find each other at the right time. It’s frustrating that there isn’t a map to being a bestseller or even a one-time seller, but hey, we’re all here, we all love this passion of ours, and aside from being a jerk, there’s really no wrong way to participate in it. That’s quite uplifting, that sense that success is always one email away. Unsatisfying, maybe, but also a good reminder that success is more or less a matter of persistence than anything else.
When I got home, I returned to two things: a message from my co-moderator at the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club that we’d just hit 25,000 members, and a new one star review on my first book. How fitting a conclusion to my story, that you can do so much right, and still not be good enough. Or, and I like this version better, that you are doing enough and are good enough now, because someone’s preference is no real indication of your value at large, or your chance at excelling where you persist.
So, thank you to my incredible book club members for helping me find and become the community I was seeking, and panelists and Chip Delany and one star reviewers for reminding me that this hobby of mine is legitimate, that I am exactly where I ought to be, and that time spent is all that is missing between where I am and where I’d like to be.
Keep making art, keep learning and practicing and trying, because unlike Yoda said, there is so much try out there, and it is by trying that we “do.”