Tony Peak: Joining the SFWA

Peak_ITS by Tony PeakThere was a time—less than a year ago, in fact—when I dreamed of joining the SFWA. Among writers of speculative fiction, the organization represents the gold standard, the elite story crafters whose work I’d long read and admired. For someone like me who’d yet to nab a professional sale, SFWA membership seemed unattainable.

Well, here I am, an Active member. Now that I’ve gotten over the fanboy awe, my high opinion of the SFWA hasn’t changed. If nothing else, it has only increased.

From the beginning my fellow members welcomed me to the fold, and answered any question I posted to the Forum boards. But this was more than just veteran authors educating a rookie. Knowledge only comes with experience. I realized that every member has been in my position one time or another. We’ve all slaved over manuscripts for years, dealt with rejection, bad reviews, and self-doubt. Most professionals still do. It’s easy to forget that best-selling authors, Nebula and Hugo winners, and Grand Masters all had to begin their career somewhere. And many times over, the SFWA aided their budding career by providing a community of like-minded authors for advice and support.

Sure, there are other writing organizations. Respectful ones. But the SFWA counts among its number some of the most influential speculative fiction writers of the past half century. With Presidents like Robert Silverberg, Ben Bova, Sharon Lee, and Grand Masters such as Arthur C. Clarke, Anne McCaffrey, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ursula K. Le Guin, to a galaxy of talent within its current ranks, the SFWA’s pedigree is second to none.

Peak headshotThis isn’t a mere list intended to impress. These names aren’t deified personas on lofty pedestals. These authors, like the SFWA today, cared about their craft. More than a livelihood, writing was their life. They cared, and it showed. It shows today when the community bands together in the face of adversity—within and without. It shows when experienced authors offer their wisdom to a newbie like me. Rather than passing a torch, this Promethean process teaches the initiate not only how to spark his or her own flame, but how to keep it aloft so that it lights the way for ourselves and all who follow.

That is the true gold standard the SFWA represents. A commitment to excellence not only in fiction, but also a commitment to each other. Something that, like the stories we love, transcends the individual and reveals a greater, unified whole.

No matter where my writing career leads, joining the SFWA will always remain a highlight. It vindicates my storytelling passion in a way that sales, accolades, or popularity never will.

I have drifted in the void, weightless—but now I am home.

Tony Peak’s work appears in eighteen different speculative fiction publications and anthologies. He is an Active Member of the SFWA and an Affiliate Member of the HWA. His novel Inherit the Stars will be published by Penguin Random House in November 2015. Find out more at