Not My Decision
I love the anecdote, whether it’s true or not, about how Campbell once admonished a young writer a con for saying that his stories weren’t good enough to send to Campbell yet. And the editor said that it wasn’t the author’s decision what he puts in his magazine, and don’t try to make his decisions for him.
I’m seeing this here and there when people make eligibility posts. I don’t mind the posts (obviously, since I made one myself) because a) it tells me there are things out there I may not have seen, and b) it’s a good reminder of things that I read that came out last year. Sometimes I forget. Also there’s the whole ignoring or forgetting or omitting the works of women and PoC, so shining a light on their work is a happy and good thing.
The problem is, and I’ve struggled with it, is the whole humblebrag, the comment of Here’s my list of stories, even though they aren’t as good as the others in the anthology/magazine…
The thing is, my opinion doesn’t matter at all. Was my book as good as [my favorite book of last year]? Well, I don’t think so, but my point of view is different from everyone else in the world. I wrote it. I see its flaws and imperfections and
My novel is eligible even though it’s urban fantasy and that never wins, and besides it’s clearly not as good as….
It’s no XXXXX but my podcast is eligible too, you know, if you care. Which you probably don’t. I’m going to go cry now.
I fought myself and won, making a post that was simple and to the point. Because it’s not my decision. It’s not my decision what gets nominated or not, its not my decision what wins or not.
It’s like when you release a story or novel or any art, it’s out of your hands. You don’t control how people read it, or react to it, or review it, or write about it online. And if you try, it’s wasting an awful lot of energy on something pointless that will gain you nothing, and that could be used writing. Once that story or novel is Out There, you have no control about whether it’s nominated or winning something. Sure, you can suggest or run a sad puppy ballot, but that’s not quite what I mean. I simply mean that at most you should say, “here’s what I’m eligible for” because that’s no lie. Is it better or worse than anything out there? You can have your opinion, but that doesn’t matter at all to anyone else. So don’t try to sway them either way.