By day, Filip Wiltgren is a mild-mannered communication officer and lecturer.
But by night, he turns into a frenzied ten-fingered typist, clawing out jagged stories of fantasy and science fiction, which have found lairs in places such as Analog, IGMS, Grimdark, Daily SF, and Nature Futures.
Filip roams the Swedish highlands, kept in check by his wife and kids.
That’s the short version.
The slightly longer version is that I’ve gone through numerous try-fail cycles in my attempts at becoming a writer.
Our story starts in fourth grade, when we got a writing assignment. It had to be at least four pages and we got to illustrate it ourselves. Fast forward a couple of days and I’m holding my grand epic “Ragnar as a policeman”. It was like holding the gold medal in a competition I hadn’t even known existed. Here I was, this scrawny kid who never got picked for any sports, who spent the breaks swinging from a limb on the old cherry tree at the edge of the school grounds, and I was a writer.
I was awash with excitement and glory. In the days following I wrote and illustrated “Ragnar in space”, “Ragnar goes underwater” and a nonfiction work: “Boats”. Then everything came crashing down.
I had a sleepover with my best friend.
We had just discovered role playing games games with the Äventyrsspel edition of Iron Crown’s Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP), and spent our days slaughtering orcs and rolling on the treasure table in a sort of free for all co-op mode as neither one of us wanted to miss out on the playing by being the game master. And I decided to try my newly fanged writing muscles and tell a creation story, a la Tolkien.
Comparing myself to Tolkien, in front of my best bud, filled me with such shame that I was convinced I didn’t have “it,” whatever that magical “it” is that true writers had. So I stopped writing.
Fortunately for me, shame passes, and I picked it up again some ten or twelve years later.
First time I sent out a story, in 2002 (yes, the zeroes are in the correct position), I was rejected. So I stopped writing (cue theme music.)
See, I’d sent it in to Writers of the Future, which is a contest for new writers. Beginners like. You know, newbs.
And I hadn’t won. All I’d gotten, was a consolation prize of a diploma with the text “semi-finalist” on it. I didn’t even make the finals.
Only years later (as in 15 years later), did I find out that semi-finalist meant that my story was in the top 20 submitted that quarters. And that a normal quarter, WotF receives some 3-4000 entries. You do the math.
But by that point, I’d already started being serious about my writing. (If memory serves, my exact frame of mind was “I’ll get this “##!¤% writing done or I’ll !”!%”¤% “%#¤% myself” You fill in the blanks.) And I’d sold stories to pro-paying, SFWA-qualifying markets.
There is a moral in there somewhere. If you find it, feel free to tell me.
Also, I’ve got a degree from journalism school (since I was too scared to try for a MFA or similar), and I’ve worked as a journalist, both employed and freelance for some ten years before becoming a communications officer. I’m also a programmer (mostly self-taught, I flunked my attempt at becoming a computer science major), a previous martial arts teacher (blue belt in Swedish Ju-Jutsu Kai since I spent more time leading people to have fun than upgrading my skills), and a productivity geek.
I’ve got a self-published board game to my name, and a slew of unsold prototypes.
I’ve even managed to do a bunch of those things that look good on a resume, such as being a member of Mensa, a coal loader, a nail counter (literally – I counted nails and put 100 in each tiny, plastic packet – the most boring, underpaid job ever), an exchange student, grade school teacher, sitting on an assembly line making cell phones by hand, and accidentally eating an endangered species.
Feel free to contact me at: email@example.com
In case you need it for some reason, here’s a high resolution media image of me.