Blog: February to April 2017: On Climbing the Jacob’s Ladder of Writing…

Well, I’m finally a full member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, having had three recognised ‘pro sales’ confirmed with them. Woo-hoo! But, beyond the sense of celebration, it’s got me thinking about when is one ever ‘successful’ – when does one ‘arrive’ as an author?

I had an interesting twitter exchange some months back with Cat Hellisen and Blaize Kaye on this. Blaize was (understandably) under the misapprehension that given we had been variously published, both Cat and I had ‘arrived’ in some science-fictional sense. Cat put him right: ‘every rung you climb, the ladder grows higher. Trust me on this.’ And so it is.

I’m a rung higher, given my SFWA move, but I still cannot see the top. Where are we going? Why do we do this – why keep writing? When have we ‘arrived’? When do we stop?

I had a discussion with David Winter some years back on this – he was my ‘Boss’ at the time on the University of Hertfordshire’s D.Clin.Psy. Training Programme. David is a preeminent Personal Construct Psychology researcher – I see from his latest research profile he has 168 publications listed on his UH page.

David says he believes we all write for ‘immortality’ – to be remembered after we die, to leave something of ourselves indelibly imprinted on the world. There may be some truth in that, but I want to do more – I want to fucking change the world, to make it a better place for the 100% not the 1% – and not just us, but all our (fewer remaining) fellow animals too! Now that’s a massive agenda and not likely to be met in my lifetime, which means I will just have to keep writing while I can, because with that plan, I will never ‘arrive’.

To each and all of our long, writing journeys then…and for a better, fairer world.

And kudos to Geoff Ryman for winning the 2016 BSFA Prize for his own journey outlining 100 African SFF writing journeys.

As for me, one rung at a time. Somewhere, up there, is Heaven! Or, if not, a final rest, at the very least…

Nick Wood
April 2017