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May 09, 2007

My Nebula Awards Weekend Presence

I was directly asked last night by someone at my DC appearance whether or not I was going to be at the Nebula Awards Weekend this weekend in New York City. I was mildly surprised about the question because I thought I had already written about it here. But I suppose I haven't, so, just to clear things up:

No, I'm not attending the Nebula Awards Weekend this year.

The reason: Folks, I haven't seen my family in almost three weeks. I want to be with them.

To expand on this slightly: If I were to attend the Nebula Awards Weekend, it would entail me flying home tomorrow, spending something less than a full day with my wife and child, and then heading out to NYC for three days. At this point, showing up at home just to leave again immediately has almost exactly zero appeal to me. The alternate plan (going to NYC with wife and child in tow) has only marginally more appeal, and still not very much, because ultimately my focus while I was in NYC would be on things other than my family. I've got a careerist streak in me, to be sure, but it only extends so far. What I really want to do now is go home, see my family and have a few days where I don't have to go anywhere, see anyone else, or be on "schmooze" mode. I'm having a great time doing all those things, but at this point, I'm also looking forward to not doing them.

Will I feel foolish if I win the SFWA presidency and I'm not at the business meeting to accept? Not really. Trust me, if I've won the presidency, SFWA will know rather quickly that I have no intention of being an absentee president. My physical absence at the Nebula Awards Weekend will not be an indicator of future results. And in any event, I'm not persuaded by an argument that I will make a great impression as the incoming SFWA president if I show up for the weekend both fatigued and wishing I were home.

I made this decision a couple days into the tour, actually; before then I had reserved my rooms for the Nebula Weekend and had lined up the American Express points for a free NYC trip and was definitely going. Then after three or so days on tour I realized just how tiring touring was, and also just how much I was already missing Krissy and Athena. And -- just as I now laugh at the idea I was actually going to get any novel writing done while I was on the road -- I realized the folly of thinking that popping in at home after three weeks and then popping off to somewhere else was a viable idea. Regardless of whether I won or lost the election, I was going to be at home for the announcement.

As for the people who think I ought to be at the Nebula Awards Weekend after three weeks on the road, rather than with my family, and would think poorly of me because of it: Well, I guess those people can just kiss my ass. I know where I ought to be this weekend, and it's with the people I love and miss and can't wait to see.

I do wish the Nebula Awards Weekend was not so hard by the end of my tour, to be sure. But this is how it turned out, and this is the decision I've made, and it's the right one for me. I hope everyone has fun at the Nebulas without me.

Posted by john at May 9, 2007 09:21 AM

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Dennis Pascual | May 9, 2007 10:09 AM


    As another person who has done a bit of business travel in his career, let me tell you...

      Dorothy had it right... "There's no place like home[!]" You deserve to be at home, and should you win the SFWA Presidency then your constituency should appreciate that you are a person who knows your priorities.

        Your tour looked hectic, but fun. One more day... then home and Happy birthday!


          Jeremiah | May 9, 2007 10:13 AM

          I'm glad to see a professional who doesn't sacrifice his family for his career. It shows the rest of us that good people can "make it" too :) Thanks!

          Dan | May 9, 2007 10:15 AM

          Can't argue with those priorities.

          Whenever I was gone for long stretches of time, and since I don't have a wife and child, I found myself missing some rather silly things about being home. I once found myself missing the feeling of walking barefoot across my living room carpet.

          So, I think when you get to that point, you pretty much know it's time to go home and stay there for a while.

          Jenny Rae Rappaport | May 9, 2007 10:34 AM

          Sorry that you won't be there, but I'm glad that you'll get to see Krissy and Athena again. =)

          Steve Buchheit | May 9, 2007 11:14 AM

          After three weeks on the road and you want to go home? Selfish, I say! :)

          Heck, I thought you said before you went on tour that you wouldn't be attending the Nebulas. I must be experiencing time shifting again.

          Go home, sleep in your own bed, take naps on that insanely green lawn as Crazy Dog Thing uses you as a hurdle, the cats sniff your head and think, "Yeah, I remember him, the bacon abuser." Only to be woken up as Athena brings you something squishy from the stream to share.

          RooK | May 9, 2007 02:11 PM

          Well, I guess those people can just kiss my ass.

          I know I'm just petty and mean-spirited, but if I were writing this essay, the innermost kernel of sentiment would be the "kiss my ass" aspect.

          Chang, for rizzle. | May 9, 2007 03:19 PM

          So wait. You won't be at the Nebula Awards? (ducks)

          Nick Stump | May 9, 2007 04:19 PM

          I sure understand why you want to be home. Three week runs are hard on the one making them and hard on those waiting at home. I was in a perpetual state of home sickness for my entire music career.

          Berry | May 9, 2007 04:29 PM

          Yeah, John, take it to the house. Elections come and go. Families shouldn't.

          Justin | May 9, 2007 07:42 PM

          Good for you! Nebula-shmebula!

          Rob | May 10, 2007 12:33 AM

          Well done!

          A manager I once worked with would tell the following to people who'd been working late for weeks:

          "I know what you're working on seems really, really important, but in five years, nobody will remember it. In five years, though, you'll still remember your divorce. Go home."

          Marianne | May 10, 2007 10:59 AM

          FWIW, I think you did post about it before because I already knew that. And I really have no contact with you besides your blog. I mean, I suppose it's *possible* that someone else was talking about how you weren't going to be there, but that's really stretching the bounds of credibility.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 01:57 PM

          I would think that if you had won, they would let you know. And if so, I would expect you to be there, regardless of previous time away from wifey.

          John Scalzi | May 11, 2007 02:33 PM

          Well, TCO, all that proves is that you're not me. I made my decision to be home this weekend before I knew whether I had won (or not), and quite clearly, I couldn't give a good goddamn what anyone else expects me to do.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 02:40 PM

          Well, it's all hypothetical. But my expectations are reasonable. Expecting you to make a sacrifice to be there as a leader is reasonable.

          And if you did win, than I AM disappointed in you. Or if you did, and they didn't tell you, than I'm disappointed in them. (I'm not saying to be there on speculation, but to be there if you know you won. It's your duty.)

          By, the way, do you know? Would be something odd in your posting if you knew and did not disclose it.

          John Scalzi | May 11, 2007 02:54 PM

          I don't recall saying I thought your expectations were unreasonable. However, I think it's equally reasonable that after three weeks on the road, promoting a book, I would choose to stay at home to be with my wife and child.

          As for being disappointed in me if I won and didn't go, well, I refer you to the part where I tell folks they can kiss my ass. What I will be judged by as SFWA president is not whether I show up for a largely meaningless appearance (If I win, I won't start being president until July 1, which is plenty of time to get with the members of the incoming executive board and prepare for our tenure), but whether I actually am a good administrator. To my mind, which in this particular case is the only mind that counts, part of being a good administrator is having sensible priorities. I will be SFWA president for a year if I win, but I will be a husband and father for much longer than that, and I know where I should be after three weeks on the road, supporting a novel (i.e., doing in a real-world, practical sense what a SFWA president ought to have real-world, practical experience doing -- being an active writer).

          You and anyone else are free to disagree, of course, but this doesn't mean I'm obliged to care.

          Addendum a couple of minutes later: I don't meant his to be entirely confrontational, mind you: As noted, the expectation that I would be there is not unreasonable. I'm just not worried about the fallout one way or another - and I wasn't worried about it long before I knew whether I had won (or not).

          TCO | May 11, 2007 03:16 PM

          A. Do you know if you won?

          B. I understand that you feel differently as you are doing differently. But I reiterate that a leader needs to make sacrifices and this would be an important time for the leader to be there. There are people to meet, things to get going, etc. Punching the clock at 01JUN is not the right attitude for a leader of men.

          John Scalzi | May 11, 2007 03:34 PM


          A. If I did know prior to the official announcement, you may assume that I was also asked not share such information publicly, and wouldn't, nor would I discuss it to any serious purpose prior to the public announcement.

          B. We clearly disagree that a "sacrifice" is required at this particular juncture, since the "sacrifice" in question would be to hang out in a hotel, schmoozing with a bunch of people, many of whom I already know, and the rest whom I would meet in other places in short order, and applauding when people won awards during the actual awards ceremony. The major sacrifice entailed at this point, in fact, would be spending close to $1,000 on hotel and airfare when in fact I would prefer to be at home with a family I hadn't seen for three weeks.

          I personally would prefer to eschew pointless and expensive "sacrifices," and concentrate on doing things more effectively -- for example, resting and relaxing at home after three weeks of being away so that when I turn my attention to being president I will be focused and ready to go.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 03:46 PM

          A. You coy...boy, you. I knew it. I knew it.

          B. It's fine. We just disagree. I see it as more than "shmoozing". I see your showing your face as important at this sort of thing.

          P.s. Since I know you're a good, man. Sorry, you lost.

          John Scalzi | May 11, 2007 04:33 PM


          "Since I know you're a good, man. Sorry, you lost."

          Heh. TCO, yet again you haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about, but that's fine. The results will be officially released tomorrow at some point in any event.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 04:36 PM

          I just know that you would not win and not be there. That would be so lame.

          You're either playing coy, have won and will make a surprise appearance. Or you lost and won't be there.

          I wonder if you are trying to manipulate the Trade Sports market and kill the shorts like me.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 05:07 PM

          It bugs me how miserable my grammar is. Frigging spurious comma. At least I'm not a wannabe though. Just a hoi palloi reader.

          John Scalzi | May 11, 2007 06:46 PM


          "I just know that you would not win and not be there. That would be so lame."

          Why? I'm nominated for a Hugo this year and I'm not going to be there to accept that, either, should I win. Likewise the Prometheus Award, for which I am nominated as well.

          It's not about the winning, anyway. It's about the being. I'd still be the SFWA president even if I did not attend the announcement.

          Although I will say that if I do decide to make a surprise appearance, I better be getting ready for my flight, since the announcement is at 2pm tomorrow.

          Tania | May 11, 2007 08:03 PM

          *ahem* The phrase is hoi polloi, not hoi palloi.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 09:21 PM

          Thanks. I'm such a palooka.

          TCO | May 11, 2007 09:24 PM

          You haven't denied knowing the answer. I did worm that out of you. (No, you didn't confirm knowing it either, but still...I have a bettable edge that you do know it. If I were an enemy insurgent, this intel would help me...by analogy.)

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