Dear the Internets: I Am No Longer President of SFWA

Yes, it is true. At midnight, my most recent term as the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America expired, and I was succeeded in the role by Steven Gould. I am very happy to see him in the job. I am now an ex-president.

As the now former president, I want to first thank the current and past members of the board with whom I have worked. The president of SFWA is the most visible board role, but in point of fact very little gets done if the board does not work together for the good of the organization. I have had very good boards. So thank you Amy Casil Sterling, Bob Howe, Cat Valente, Jim Fiscus, Lee Martindale, Sean Williams, Matthew Johnson, Ann Leckie and Rachel Swirsky. It was an honor to work with each of them. I would like to give additional thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal, SFWA’s former VP, who persuaded me to run in the first place and whose work for SFWA was key in so many areas, and to Bud Sparhawk, who is, in my opinion, quite possibly the best treasurer the organization has ever had.

I need to also thank all the volunteers of SFWA, who have put so much work into the organization and have kept it running. SFWA as an organization functions because its members choose to step up and make it work, and we are blessed with a deep pool of talent and competence. Thanks to each of them for stepping up.

I want to give a special note of appreciation to Kate Baker, who has been the organization’s office manager for the last two and some odd years, which, translated into the real world, means she was the back-end backbone of the organization. She stepped into the role at a challenging time and met that challenge and then some. Thank you, Kate.

I am certain I am forgetting some people who deserve to be mentioned and thanked; I hope they will forgive me.

Being president of SFWA has had its own unique set of adventures, not all of them fun (see: all of the month of June). But then no road is entirely smooth — the road just has to go somewhere worth going. I believe that for SFWA, it does. There is still (lots) of work to do, but this should not be surprising. There is always lots of work to do. I do believe that in a general sense I have left SFWA better off than it was when I became president, both by building on what others before me had done, and by working with the board and others to do new and useful things.

It will be for others to assess my effectiveness in the job, although of course I have my own opinion. What I will say is that I thought the position suited me in many ways, and I was glad to have been able to do it, and to serve my fellow science fiction and fantasy writers. On balance being SFWA president has been one of the most satisfying roles that I have had in my life. I’m grateful to have been able to do it.

Now, let me talk briefly about my public relationship to SFWA moving forward. For the next year, here is what I am going to say publicly about the organization and any of its possible actions:

Nothing. 

For a couple of reasons. One, some of the actions or choices the organization will make will be on things that got their start in my administration, and just as it had been my general policy not to talk about that stuff publicly here while I was president, so it makes sense not to comment on them outside of the office. Two, some of the actions or choices the organization will make could possibly be to reverse or counteract what I have done as president, because I am not perfect and made some poor choices and/or the new board might decide that what worked under me might not work now. In my opinion the new board and president have a right to do that without me commenting on it publicly from the sidelines.

There’s also a third reason, which is, dudes, I am so off the clock now. I just spent three years having to be engaged in every single aspect of SFWA. Before I left, I tried to put everything outstanding into a process so that the new president and board could pick up from where I left off. Having done that, I think I’ve earned some “I am not thinking about SFWA at all” time.

If and when the current president or board want information from me or an opinion about something, I am happy to offer it to them — privately. If SFWA asks for me to promote or announce something here on Whatever, I will happily consider doing so. I may retweet a thing or two from time to time about or relating to SFWA, because I live in a world filled with SFWA members. And finally, from time to time I may pull an anecdote about my time as SFWA president out of my conversational bag, because it’s amusing to do so. But in terms of directly commenting publicly on SFWA’s current activities: Not going to happen until at least July 1, 2014. Some of you may be disappointed with this policy of mine. Be disappointed all you like.

I was honored and humbled and happy to have been SFWA president for three years; I cannot say how much I appreciated being able to serve. Thank you, SFWA and all of its membership. It was a genuine pleasure to be your president. I am happy now to once again be just another member.

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