I’ve reached a new milestone as a poet and writer, and this is one I’ve been dreaming about since I first heard about professional writers organizations as a science fiction and fantasy-obsessed kid: I’m now an associate member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA.)
The purpose of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association is to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.“Who We Are” – SFWA website
Membership became a possibility for me for two reasons. First, poetry and translations now count as qualifying works for SFWA membership. Second, I sold two poems in 2021 to one of my bucket-list magazines that pays professional rates (I hope to reveal more details about these upcoming poems soon!) Those sales put me over the $100 earnings threshold for an associate membership. As a member, I “receive access to private discussion forums, SFWA suites at conventions, and publications such as the SFWA Bulletin and the Singularity member newsletter. [I can] also recommend, nominate, and vote for works to receive the Nebula Awards.”
If my career as a professional poet and writer continues—and I have every intention to continue—then I hope someday soon to qualify for a Full Membership, which adds access to business meetings and SFWA exclusive events, as well as voting in organizational elections. It was Full members who voted in April to allow poetry and translations as qualifying works.
I’m not sure many readers or even writers know about these organizations and what they have to offer. In addition to the membership benefits listed above, SFWA provides various programs to support science fiction and fantasy writers, artists, and industry professionals, including promotional opportunities, emergency medical funds, grants, and online and in-person opportunities to build community with writing peers. The organization advocates for its members and works to improve the publishing industry by pointing out and tackling practices and developments that may be harmful to writers and artists. One such valuable resource that I read weekly is the Writer Beware blog and newsletter. SFWA also hosts the annual Nebula Conference and Awards, which recognizes science fiction and fantasy writers in several categories. According to their website, “SFWA is home to over 2,300 authors, artists, and allied professionals, and is widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers’ organizations in existence.”
There are other professional writers organizations I hope to qualify to join someday. I’ve visited their websites over the years for inspiration and for their online public resources for writers and readers. I’m eager to meet more writers, hear about their experiences, and share my own. I am grateful for the writing communities I have belonged to in the past and the communities I belong to in the present. While writing itself can be a lonely activity, the community you surround yourself with can provide regular inspiration, advice, and camaraderie.
In addition to your own local writing groups and memberships, take a look at professional writers organizations related to the genres you write and see where they might fit into your own writing journey!