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POINT OF VIEW: Climbing the Walls of SFWA (And Unleashing My Secret Creativity)

Yes, it’s true. I gets all young and muscly when I climb.

I’m on a bit of an odyssey this year.

I have always wanted to be a sci fi writer, and over the last five years, I have achieved that dream. In addition to my gay romance tales, I have published five sci fi novels, with a sixth due out in October.

But one thing has eluded me.

Most successful sci fi writers (and I use that term in the popular/financial sense) are members of SFWA (say it with me – “siff-wah”) – the Sci Fi Writer’s Association. But there’s a catch.

To join, you have to either make at least $3,000 on a single sci fi title in one year for the top-tier membership, or sell stories to a sci fi magazine for at least 6 cents a word.

My best-selling title just topped $1,000 – over two years – so at the moment I am far from qualifying for the full membership.

And my best short story sail netted me about 1.5¢ per word, not because the publisher was stingy, but because the market ‘m in is a small one, especially for sci fi.

So the associate membership option seems a bit easier – except for the fact that the best of the qualifying magazines get hundreds of submissions a month, and can only take 6-8.

But hey, I believe in myself and the quality of my storytelling, so what the hell. I am throwing myself into it whole-heartedly, and becoming a bit of a short story factory this year.

I have finished two stories in my SFWA quest, and am almost through a third, and each one is a little sparkling jewel that’s very different from the others. Unlike novels (which I am also still doing), which bog you down in one style and one story for months and months at a time, these shorts let my mind roam free and play in different worlds every month.

And here’s the thing. It has unleashed my creativity in a way I didn’t expect. Every good chef has to hone his cooking skills. Musicians must train their voices and practice their instruments. And writers have to work at their craft too, honing it to a sharp edge.

By working on these unrelated shorts, I’m finding new avenues for that creativity, new ideas that are springing to life under my little writer fingers, and that alone is worth the price of admission.

And if it doesn’t work? If these stories don’t sell?

In these days of self publishing, if my little birds return to the nest, I’ll still be able to put them out there, and my fans will still get to read them. So I count it as a win-win.

They say it takes 100 submissions on average to break into a new market. I hope I can manage it faster than that – at this rate, I’d be about 8-10 years away, and I’m not a spring chicken.

To my writer friends – do you write shorts? If so, what are some of your short story writing secrets? And what do they do for you as a writer, emotionally, creatively, and financially?

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