Editor's Desk: Recharging My Batteries
Since leaving my day job, I haven’t spent an entire month at home. I was initially concerned that without the required social interactions of my old job that I might over-embrace my hermit tendencies, but a recent flurry of invitations to various genre events and conferences has keep me out-and-about. Turns out that this is a double-edged sword for me. I enjoy getting out amongst fans and writers, but being social is exhausting. By the time I return home, I need several days to recover. That usually involves sleep and hiding in our house.
May is typically a recovery month for me and one of the few times that recharge cycle happens outside our house. Every year, before the rates go up and the place gets crowded, we pack up the car and take the kids to Ocean City, NJ. We seem to have a knack for picking the most rainy weekend in May, but that doesn’t deter us. At this point, I’m not sure what we would do if rain didn’t force us to stay in the room at least one day. These cold, wet family trips to the beach have become my favorite thing we do as a family and the only trip I hate to come home from.
This year fit the tradition. Rain, more rain, heavy rain, and then a bit of sun. Rain or shine, we walked the boardwalk and on most days, bought a Polish Water Ice. We’ve been doing this long enough now that the woman who runs that shop recognizes us from year-to-year—something I find astonishing. As a kid, my family was always going somewhere different. I never imagined that I would want to vacation in the same place from year-to-year, but I can’t imagine giving this up. Most years, I need this. This year, I think I underestimated just how much I needed it.
Back at one hundred percent, I had a few days before I had to be “on” again. Later that week, I drove five-and-a-half hours to Pittsburgh for the Nebula Awards Conference. One of the other things I do is edit the SFWA Bulletin, so I was there to cover the event and help out where I could. I was also there to cheer on Sam J. Miller, whose story “Things With Beards” was up for a Nebula. Interesting side note: I bought that story at the Nebulas the year before, and another the year before that. Continuing that tradition, Sam’s story in this month’s issue was acquired there this year. I seldom get to accept stories in-person, so this is a novelty for me. Sam didn’t win, but while we were there, it was announced that his story—and “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman—were finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Congrats to both of them, once again!
Patreon was unable to get someone to the Nebulas this year, so I was asked to step in and run a half-hour panel for them. Cat Rambo and Merc Rustad joined me and we shared our collective experiences. As expected, thirty minutes wasn’t nearly enough to cover what we would have liked to, but it was good enough to provide an introduction and starting point for the audience. Afterwards, I posted a list of genre authors on Patreon and a quick list of some of our recommendations. If you’ve considered launching your own page, you might want to check it out at neil-clarke.com/nebula-awards-weekend-patreon-panel/.
One of the other highlights of the weekend for me was chatting with Don L. Jones, the artist responsible for creating the amazing assortment of robot centerpieces at the Nebula Awards ceremony. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of robots—just look to this month’s cover for another example—so it was a pleasure chatting with a fellow B9 fan and to learn about his artistic process. Check out his website at www.jonesrobo-works.com and you’ll see just why one of these little guys had to come home with me.
Accompanied by my robot and one of his friends—a robot that I’ll eventually accompany into New York City so he can reach his final destination—I drove the five-and-a-half hours back home and I’ve been hiding out here ever since. I’m back out on the road—Cascade Writers Workshop and the Locus Awards—towards the end of the month and then out to Readercon in July, but that’s it for the summer. Sadly, no Worldcon for me this year. My budget simply won’t permit it.
It does mean that I’ll finally get a full month at home though!
Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He is a ten-time finalist and current winner of the Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form), has won the Chesley Award for Best Art Director three times, and received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award from SFWA in 2019. His latest anthology, New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction (co-edited with Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang), is now available from Clarkesworld Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.