So What’s It Like To Get Nominated For a Nebula? (Because I HAVE BEEN WHOO)

Well, in my case, you get a call one evening from a SFWA head – for me, it was from Mary Robinette Kowal, who apparently asked to be the one who called me, presumably to hear me squee, which I find endearing.  And she says, “You are a Nebula nominee for Best Novelette for ‘Sauerkraut Station.'”

And then, after you ask, because you must, she tells you, “Yes, I’m serious.”

And then, after the cheering and the high-five with your wife and the dancing, she speaks the most redundant words in the world: “I take it you choose to accept?”

She goes on to congratulate you and tell you that this is secret knowledge, you must not tell anyone until it’s officially announced… or at the very least, keep it off the Internet.  And this is the hardest part of being a Nebula nominee, knowing that you have just gotten the equivalent of an Oscar nomination, and you cannot say a word to anyone.

So of course you call your best writer-friends and swear them to secrecy.  If you’re very lucky, as I am, it turns out that one of your best writer-friends goes “Me too!” and we do our Secret Nebula Dance, and then get even happier when it turns out we’re not competing against each other in the same category.

You probably have a lot of writer-friends at this point, and you start to realize you cannot possibly call them all.  Your wife is calling her friends, random strangers, pigeons in the park.  For sanity’s sake, you set a number of people you will tell: eight people, including relatives.  Then you must stop.

But you cannot stop HINTING.

And you start getting in on this all-too-appropriately nebulous gossip-train, as everyone implies but doesn’t say, and you start to form a sense of who else has gotten this wonderment, because rumors are flying and this person is neither confirming nor denying, and oh my God.

Did you really get nominated?

Three and a half fucking years after you started your writing career, did you make one of your lifetime fucking goals?

Sitting on your laptop is the final draft of the novel that you finished literally half an hour before Mary Robinette called.  You have been wondering for the past month’s of rewrites whether this novel will actually sell.  You think it’ll be easier now.

You wonder how to bring this up with agents. “Hi, I’m Ferrett, and I’m up for a goddamned Nebula.  How you like me now?” probably would not be well-reviewed on Query Shark.

You wonder whether this is real, but thankfully Mary left a voicemail to call her, so you can listen to that whenever the reality fades.

Your weekend is weird, because there’s this constant knowledge of Nebula.  You’re part of history now.  You have a date where you promised to read your girlfriend Bec one of your favorite stories, and you’ve chosen Deathbird, by Harlan Ellison.  Which, as you pick up the book, you realize was nominated for the Nebula for Best Novelette in 1973.

The same category you’re in.

You’re in science fiction history.  A footnote, most likely; you don’t think you’ll win.  But whatever happens to you, from now on, there’s a list of nominees in Nebula history, and your name will be on that for – well, probably as long as science fiction writing is around.  You’ve become legend – maybe a tiny legend in terms of “Who’s that guy?”, but somewhere, your name’s in the massive credits scroll of science fiction.

That’s crazy.

And you think, I’m not that good a writer.  Followed by, You can’t say that any more.  To say you’re a bad writer is to crap all over the wonderful people who loved Sauerkraut Station so much that they nominated it despite the fact that you did minimal campaigning – people loved something you wrote that they remembered it at the end of the year. To say that you’re a bad writer is a slap in the faces of those lovely folks who blogged, Twittered, and Facebooked you, and now it’s time to step away from that shit.

Truth is, I’m not the best writer.  I still have a long way to go.  I can, and will, get better. But today, I hit a marker I never really expected to see, and to say I’m bad is to say the Nebulas are bad.  So today, I’m at least a decent writer.  That’s as far as my self-esteem will let me.  Don’t argue overmuch, I’ve been arguing with Poor Self-Esteem longer than you have.  That’s a pretty big step for him.

To everyone who loved the story: thank you.  Thank you for making this happen.

3 Comments

  1. JFargo
    Feb 20, 2012

    I am so insanely happy for you, Ferrett! I’m grinning, laughing, and cheering for you. This is amazing and totally deserved.

  2. Brad R. Torgersen
    Feb 21, 2012

    Congratulations, Ferrett. Indeed, how many of us spend our teen years looking at our paperbacks with the words NEBULA WINNER (and HUGO WINNER) on them, barely daring to daydream about what it owuld be like to one day be published, much less being nominated for a major award? I never planned on a Nebula nomination. Neither the Nebulas nor the Hugos are on my “bucket list” because I cannot plan to achieve them through effort. They either happen, or they do not. Still, seeing my name on a Nebula nomination ballot — alongside so many friends and fine, hard-working writers — is a tremendous gas. Best of luck to you, sir. May we share other ballots in our future!

    • TheFerrett
      Feb 21, 2012

      Sir, I wholeheartedly voted for yours, so I was thrilled to see you on there. Now you’re competition, and I’m STILL thrilled. Let us clasp hands and see what the rest of the world thinks.

      Amazing, innit?

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  1. 2011 Nebula Nominations Announced « Alex Shvartsman's Speculative Fiction - [...] what it feels like to get nominated for science fiction’s most prestigious award, check out Ferrett Steinmetz’s blog entry…

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