[processing] Trunking the inventory

and I were discussing handling older stories still in inventory. He said, in part:

My inventory of stories is down to about a dozen: half of them from closer to the beginning of my career and half closer in tune with what and how I’m writing now. […] I’m pretty confident that I can sell the older stories without much trouble, but I’m wondering how much effort to put into sending out those stories since they aren’t indicative of where I am now.

My response, in part:

I’ve retired stories along the way, but only recently have I done anything like a wholesale retirement of old inventory. My best advice from my current perspective is to retire-or-rewrite, simply for the reason you allude to. Even if and older piece is salable, it doesn’t represent your current quality of work. People don’t know (or care) when a story was written. They only know when it came out, or when they saw it.

It’s an interesting problem, and one I don’t quite have a handle on. I’ve sometimes taken older pieces and heavily revised them, or even done a blank-sheet rewrite. But not only has the quality of my prose and storytelling changed for the better over the years, so has the nature of the very ideas I tend to have. The fact that virtually everything I write new these days sells is an external validation of my improvement.

There’s certainly a school of thought, pace Heinlein, that says send out every word you write until it sells. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but at the same time, do I want my older words being the contemporary ambassadors of my work to the reading world?

What’s your take on this? When do you retire inventory, or do you ever?

2 thoughts on “[processing] Trunking the inventory

  1. tetar says:

    There’s certainly a school of thought, pace Heinlein, that says send out every word you write until it sells. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but at the same time, do I want my older words being the contemporary ambassadors of my work to the reading world?

    What’s your take on this? When do you retire inventory, or do you ever?

    ///

    If it was publishable then it is publishable now. Remove ego from story and the choice is already made — of course send ’em in ’til sold. Why ever not? Once you’re dead ten years it’ll ALL be “that old-fashioned stuff” anyway.

    And if you find an unsold story that doesn’t quite work or that you now see can be improved, by all means improve it. Or salvage that one cool idea from it. What ever. Unpublished stuff is fodder.

  2. tetar says:

    Perhaps I should expatiate so as not to seem so peremptory, which was not intended:

    Does it matter to reader or story? If not, why should it matter to you whether it reflects current trends? That’s ego. Judge it as story, not as yourself. Readers get that some stuff we write will be simplistic and fun, some complex and even — gasp — meaningful.

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