So, the news has already broken, for a few days now, but I figured I should share it here too: I’ve been nominated for a 2013 World Fantasy Award! More specifically, I’ve been shortlisted in the Special Award—Professional category for my editorial work at Weirdfictionreview.com alongside my bosses/chief editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. I didn’t even know about it until Ann and Jeff called me up to tell me late Tuesday night, while I was rooting through some old notebooks, finishing up unpacking for my apartment. Turns out they’d been trying to get a hold of me for a while before then and finally found my cell number. When they told me I was nominated, I was incredulous for a few seconds, and Jeff had to tell me about three times before it sank in. I spent the next few hours prancing around the apartment, pinwheeling, calling my parents, etc. True to what Ann and Jeff told me, Facebook was blowing up with the news, and I had scores of well-wishers congratulating me, which left me flabbergasted and sentimental at the same time.
I feel very thankful for all of it, the nomination and the attendant celebration. Truth be told, if you’re going to pursue a career in publishing/editing/writing, genre or otherwise, you have to do it because you love it and feel devoted to a particular purpose, and you pursue that purpose as best you can. What satisfaction you gain from that pursuit will sometimes be material, but almost always will be internal or qualitative, the knowledge that you’ve done a good job or found new readers for something that badly deserves a wider audience. Awards and award nominations are hard to come by because there are only so few awards and opportunities for recognition, and there are so many deserving publications and writers every year.
My work at WFR.com satisfies me, for many reasons (which I’ve previously mentioned, I’m sure). I get to read some of the best, most imaginative work from writers I may not have encountered otherwise, and I help them find more readers in a crowded market. I get to help make a difference for those writers, and also for the readers that come to enjoy them. I want to become a greater gatekeeper and tastemaker, not for glory, but for the purpose of helping more writers and readers down the road. I will admit that my work at WFR.com has also made me a better reader and writer, which will pay off for my own writing down the road as well. In the end, though, I gain satisfaction from the daily work and the communication with fellow editors and contributors, from seeing a great shape forming from smaller pieces.
A World Fantasy Award nomination, then, feels like a stirring validation of that work. It confirms what I had hoped for the website all along. It’s especially meaningful knowing that the nomination comes for the duration of our published material from 2012, a year when I turned to my work on WFR.com as an escape from personal discord and stress. So, not only do I feel joy, but a strong sense of catharsis as well. The good words and well wishes I’ve received from others has been heartwarming and a real source of pleasure and self-confidence, and I appreciate them wholeheartedly.
I also want to say this: it may be my name and the VanderMeers’ names on the ballot for the nomination, but as far as I’m concerned, that nomination stretches to all of the contributors at WFR.com. As an editor, I would be nothing without the talents of our regular columnists and contributors, and all of the great writers whose essays and stories have graced our website. They all deserve a round of applause and a share of the spoils.
It’s encouraging to see WFR.com in such strong company as the rest of the ballot. The competition in the Special Award categories (Professional and Non-professional) is going to be tough. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the folks at PS Publishing, Subterranean Press, ChiZine Publications, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Acqueduct Press, and Centipede Press, for starters. Elsewhere on the ballot sits my friends Karin Tidbeck and Gregory Bossert, nominated for her collection Jagannath (which I helped out on!) and his short story “The Telling,” respectively. Kij Johnson, who I hope to work with soon at KU, is also nominated for her collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees, which, as one of my friends pointed out, means there are now two WFA nominees in the English department at KU. How cool is that?
It remains to be seen whether WFR.com takes home an award, but the nomination itself feels like a win. Now is a time for celebration and positive thoughts, and positive momentum as well. There’s still more to be done, for myself personally and also for WFR.com. I need to get back to work, but I’ll do it with a bigger smile than usual.