I was sent this link to why the Babylon 5 guy quit SFWA:
I resigned SFWA (back before it became SFFWA) for the reasons you
cite, and over the whole Dramatic Nebula issue, which was for me the
defining moment and the proverbial straw across the equally
proverbial camel’s back. A number of us — me, D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Mike Cassutt,
Harlan, others — attempted to get SFWA to restore the Dramatic
Nebula, which had been dropped for a number of years. In the course
of this, I received more abusive, vitriolic, hateful pieces of mail
and email than I can begin to describe to you. It rivals or exceeds
*anything* ever sent to me in any flame war. All from other SFWA
members. One quote I remember vividly is emblematic of the whole: “I
work my ass off writing for pennies a word, while all you hacks in TV
churn out crap for thousands of dollars a page. You and your LA
buddies will never get a Dramatic Nebula as long as I’m alive.”
And that was the nicest letter I got. It was explained to me, in mail, email and the SFWA journal, that
scriptwriting wasn’t really *writing*, it was just typing. That TV
writers weren’t really writers. That you can’t read a script unless
you’re trained, so you can’t vote on it. That since TV/film is often
a collaborative form, you don’t know who contributed what, so how can
you give a nebula? And there’s George Martin’s argument, that SFWA
should give Dramatic Nebulas to scriptwriters when WGA allows prose
writers to join.
And the responses to this…it *is* writing, you *can* read the
script easily, it’s just the margins that are different. Editors
often contribute structure and ideas and other material to the books
they edit, but I don’t see that stopping regular nebulas. And SFWA
was built around a particular *genre*, anything in that genre is or
should be acceptable; WGA is built around *form*, the script, and any
genre within that form is acceptable. We’re talking apples and
I was even willing to remove myself from all future DN consideration
to remove the notion that I was doing this to get one myself. It was
the principle, for one vital reason:
At that time, SFWA allowed scripts to qualify you for membership in
SFWA. Scripts were fine as far as SFWA was concerned as long as it
brought in more in the way of membership dues. If it brought money
INTO SFWA, then it was writing, and qualified script writers to join
SFWA. But when it came time to give out the dramatic nebula…nope,
suddenly it ain’t writing no more.
It was a clear contradiction, and a bald-faced double-standard.
Hypocrisy at its most blatant. So finally, when the move to restore the Dramatic Nebula was vetoed,
I quit. The final irony being this: over the 10 years or so I’d been
a member, I’d written maybe 7 or 8 letters to be published in the
SFWA Journal, which appears quarterly or monthly, I forget now.
There were (and are) people who had something in almost every issue,
often for pages at a time. I sent my letter of resignation to the
Journal, and it has never to this day been printed. Because once it
became clear that I was no longer going to continue paying dues
(though I was still a member at the time of the letter, and for
several months thereafter, until my prior payment ran out), they
really had no interest in hearing anything from a scriptwriter. They
later tried the excuse that it was too long, but it was exactly the
same length as the majority of letters that appeared in the Journal.
In fighting for the rights of script-members of SFWA on the DN
issue, and the perception of scriptwriters in general, I was
insulted, abused, targeted, slandered, ridiculed, threatened and
harrassed. While there are many fine individuals who belong to the
group, as an organization is is provincial and small minded and
insecure and jealous. Any John Norman GOR novel would theoretically
be eligible for a Nebula, but 12 Monkeys would not. If an SF novel
sells 35,000 copies, it’s a great thing; 100,000 is a *terrific*
thing, much ballyhooed by the SF establishment. B5 has a hardcore
audience of between 10 and 15 *million* people.
So bottom-line…yeah, I left SFWA because I got tired of the
contempt the organization and many of its members held (and still
hold) for scriptwriters. When it came time to accept the Science
Fiction Weekly’s award for “The Coming of Shadows,” I stepped into
the SFFWA suite (where they were to be given out) just long enough to
find the guys involved, and get out again. And the award was
presented out in the hallway, because I didn’t want it to happen
there. As I told the organizer, I wouldn’t go into the SFFWA suite
for this if I were dying of lung cancer and they were offering free
chemotherapy at the door.
And here I thought I was supposed to be the first SFWA member to ever attack another member in an official SFWA channel. In any event, the organization is clearly not a place for people with principles. And how typical is it of the cowardly little freaks that they didn’t print his letter of resignation. They still haven’t announced my expulsion either.
Now the freaks aren’t being snobbish about scriptwriters; they’re too busy trying to become scriptwriters themselves. They content themselves now with trying to look down on self-publishers, who they also insist are not real writers.