Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[processing] Trunking the inventory

mauricebroaddus 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?

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: process, writing

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