Eligibility Post 2016

So, I did not plan to write one of these eligibility posts at all. Mainly because it would not have been a long post. I made one professional sale this year. My first professional sale, and it stands all alone…quietly…maybe hiding under beds and closets like the tooth fairies within it, I don’t know.

Impostor syndrome is hitting hard at the moment, even though the results of my story’s publication feel too minor to have faked my way into.

My short story, “Decay” was published in the penultimate issue of Crossed Genres magazine, along with a New Author Spotlight interview. And technically, that makes me eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

This is not the same thing as me having any shot at all of winning that award. I know several other eligible authors who I’m in awe of, who seem so far out of my league, who have done so much already with so many more good things ahead of them…

My creepy little story doesn’t feel like it should put me in the same category, by any means.

So why am I writing one of these posts after all? Well, apparently, anthologies of Campbell-eligible authors seem slightly less intimidating than actually shooting for an official Campbell Award. The announcement popped up on my Twitter feed. And if I can get reprint permission from Crossed Genres in time, I’d like to submit to it. “The intent is to familiarize voters and readers with new writers in the SFF field,” and, funnily enough, that’s kind of me. If a few more people read my creepy tooth fairy story…It feels like it would be worth it.

It took me a long time to do the minimal Googling necessary to figure out if I was eligible, just because I was so sure I wasn’t. I made my first professional sale, but it must not count, right? How could it count? I made an exciting amount of cash. I saw my name in print. I got my first review (a positive one, even). Before that, I had fun answering interview questions, and got to feel the dim amusement of proofreading with a scraped cornea that was meant to keep me from reading at all (no, I don’t know how it happened either, but it kept me humble, cropping up the day after my acceptance). I loved the whole experience, I was so excited, but surely that didn’t…mean anything, right?

Seeing the anthology announcement today was almost the first time I had a flicker of, “Wait…no. This counts.”

I have no shot of winning, really, and I’m fine with that. Like I said, I can think of a lot of people who really deserve the award, and I am rooting for them with everything in me.

But…”Decay” does count. And I can be proud of that–of my first sale, even if it winds up the piece I like the least long-term, the one lost among dust bunnies under my bed. This story might never break out into the open, but I don’t have to be the one shoving it back into the dark.

And if this story happens to make me eligible for an award, I should maybe, sort of…make that known? At least once?

So, this is me, making it known.

My name is Allison Mulder. I got a short story published this year, no matter how many times I forget that, and no matter how hard it is to believe I deserve it.

And even though the odds are astronomically against me even getting nominated…

I’m eligible for a Campbell Award.

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