When I started submitting short stories for publication back in the summer of 2009, I set a goal to follow in Ray Bradbury's footsteps and become a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. That goal prodded me to write and sub like mad, sending my work to as many pro-paying publications as possible. I only had to break into three to qualify for SFWA membership. Easy enough, right?
Not so much. It took four years to make those qualifying sales. But when I eventually did in 2013, I was super-stoked. I'd set a goal and reached it. I couldn't fill out my application fast enough, and after it was approved, I sent in my first year's dues posthaste. Did the skies open after that? Did I start selling work to every major publisher under the sun? Of course! Not.
For a while, rejections reached me faster. Other than that, I'm afraid I didn't get much out of my membership. Maybe because I didn't put much into it. I didn't frequent the member forums, vote, or attend conventions. Why? No time, folks. I'm a teacher and a writer, not a great schmoozer. I was hoping for insider tips, but unfortunately the SFWA publications are already dated by the time they go to print. So much information for writers is freely available online these days, forcing even top-notch magazines to remain relevant with exceptional content.
This isn't goodbye forever, SFWA. When we meet again, I'm sure we both will have improved. For now, I'm focusing on telling my brand of stories as only I can. I'll leave the schmoozing to those better qualified.