I’m sort of jacked right now, and explaining why is going to plumb the depths of geekery. As a kid, I loved reading science fiction because the genre explored things I was interested in— dreaming about the future and outer space, looking at the world through different eyes, and exploring kooky “what if” scenarios.
So I plowed through piles of books, and also subscribed (at one time) to almost a half-dozen monthly science fiction magazines. One thing the writers for all of these publications (like Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, etc.) seemed to have in common was membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
I was just a reader, but I wanted IN. But to join, you had to sell a novel or story to a “reputable, paying market.” So in high school, I submitted a few science fiction stories for publication, and it turned out that even markets of low repute had their standards. Admittedly, my stories were pretty bad, so the rejections were totally justified. (In retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have always named all of my heroes “Bart.”)
Years passed, life moved on, and I was able to pare down my expectations and realize different, more realistic dreams. For example, I now own more mock turtlenecks than anyone I know.
But since my funny science fiction novel, The Drake Equation, is coming out next year, I'm also a new member of the SFWA! I guess that shows that I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then. I mean, my book’s protagonist isn’t even named Bart!