I was browing my table-top book, The Art of Michael Whelan, this evening. I first got the book in my senior year in college, I believe, which would have been 1993-1994. I scraped together what spare pennies I had to buy the book because I was (and am) a huge fan of Michael Whelan’s work. I am particularly fond of the art he did for Isaac Asimov’s Forward the Foundation.
There is something about being a writer–and a science fiction writer specifically–that is surreal. As I was flipping through the book, I was also recalling the Nebula Weekend banquet from 2011. Kelly and I attended and among the people seated at our table for dinner was Michael Whelan and his wife. Kelly was pregnant with the Little Miss at the time, and she and Michael Whelan’s wife spent the entire dinner talking about kids.
I spent most of my dinner in a daze.
Sitting directly across from me at the table was Michael Whelan. At the table, everyone chatted about ordinary things, but I was unusually quiet. I remember, quite clearly, thinking, “I am sitting at a dinner table with Michael Whelan. I remembered thinking about the young adult I was–really just a kid–at 21 or 22 years old–who’d spent what few pennies he could scrounge to buy this wonderful book of art. I remembered how I would sit on the bed in my apartment, flipping through the book, daydreaming what it would be like to be a Real Science Fiction Writer, hoping that it would be possible, but never quite daring to believe it would be possible.
And there I was, at the Nebula Award banquet, sitting a the same table as the guy who made all of that breath-taking art. I think it was that moment that it began to sink in, that I was a science fiction writer, and that one of the benefits of being a science fiction writer, one of those benefits that I never really considered, was being able to hang out with these demigods I’d grown up with in books.
Writing is a lonely business, but the perks make it all worthwhile.