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?