Challenge,  On Writing

An Adventure In My Own Fiction…

Being Prolific…

This is kind of sad, actually. I have a clear memory of writing a story. Not sure if it became part of a novel or not, not 100 % sure of what series it was in.

But I remember writing the story. And I wanted that story for a specific reason tonight.

Yes, I have spreadsheets full of stories and all my indie published novels are out in different places. But spread sheets just give me titles and series and such. And just for Smith’s Monthly alone, there are almost 300 stories on that spread sheet.

And I have a lot of unpublished short stories that got delayed last fall when my eye got infected.  And a ton of other published stories that I have not brought into Smith’s Monthly or a collection.

So for over an hour tonight I opened stories, glanced at them until I knew the story, and went, “Nope.”

Two stories I opened, both in the Thunder Mountain series and went “Damn those are great novel starts.” Then moved on.

Never did find the story I swear I wrote. It is here somewhere and I will stumble on it at some point.

I don’t have the best tracking system, but mine does not totally suck. What sucks is my memory. I have a memory of writing the story, just nothing more. Sigh…

And that, I am sure, is just a factor of being prolific. The other day Allyson and I were talking about how much fun it would be to do a Kickstarter to finally do hardback editions of some of our thrillers. Two of mine and two of Kris’s stand-alone thrillers.

I actually said, “I have a second stand-alone thriller besides Dead Money?”

Allyson is used to my memory and did not actually laugh out loud.

Seems I do. I wrote a golf thriller and since I don’t have a copy of it here on my shelves, I never notice it and had forgotten about it completely. Clearly it really needs a new life. (grin)

And clearly I need a new memory. Of course, I have written around two hundred novels, around 500 short stories, and published maybe another 500 books and magazines. Maybe I can be forgiven for remembering writing a story and not finding it right away.

And I will forgive myself as soon as I find the stupid thing.


  • Harvey Stanbrouigh

    Isn’t it wonderful? Such a great “problem” to have.

    People are astounded when I tell them I don’t remember what happened in such-and-such novel or story or sometimes even the title of the story or novel or that it’s out there at all. I honestly don’t care. What matters is THAT I write, not WHAT I write, and the next one is always the most fun.

    Published or unpublished, collected or not, series or standalone, I still wrote them. (grin) That’s enough.

    • dwsmith

      Harvey, spot on the money. Exactly. I just love the writing process and I think most writers who are prolific just love the writing process, the telling a story. Any story. But when I tell it, it is my story and that is the fun.

      Spot on. Thanks!

  • Cheryl

    Lordy, Dean. I can barely imagine the difficulty you’d have in remembering all that you’ve written, especially the shorter works. Great that Allyson is there to be an “extra brain”.

    Don’t know if this idea resonates at all (and I know you weren’t looking for input ;)) but even with my (way) picayune number of stories, I added to my spreadsheet a column where I had keywords. Like maybe it could be genre, tone, ending; like it’s a ‘job’ one or a ‘family’ one or a ‘misfit’ one; environment/location; with all your series, you could have those as keywords. Anyway, a thought.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, if I had started doing that thirty years ago I would be much happier now. So good suggestion for writers starting out.

    • dwsmith

      No wish it was, but that is one novel I got to bring forward some as well. And maybe write the next book in the series at the same time.

  • Vincent Zandri

    Funny. I just did a YouTube vid on the problem with being prolific. I actually forget about novels and short thrillers I write. I just found a novel from pre covid days! And I’m 58! Lol

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, for those of us who are prolific, it is a pretty tiny violin problem. (grin) But it sure gets pointed out at times.

      And I love the young writers who ask me “How is the book going?” and I look at them with a puzzled look and honestly ask “Which book?”

  • djmills

    If you can remember what year or month you wrote it, try a search for a file matching that year or month.

    I also forgot to add two short stories to my spreadsheet last year, but I found and added them to the spreadsheet early this year.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Dean, in my rev-up to the Great Dean Challenge, I did a deep-dive into my files and my spreadsheets. The idea is to decide which books to boost on social media in posts I pre-program before I get busy writing (a friend of mine does that to very nice effect.)
    This resulted in having to combine several spread sheets, finally bringing everything under one pen name. I group the works by Series/Worlds/Genre, as applicable, I color code according to length, and have all kinds of good data for each entry.
    Remember all those challenges?
    It seems I’ll be able to do a Free Fiction Friday without any repeats for the next three years. And those stories haven’t been published yet, although I’ll be compiling them into collections first. Doing the FFF will force me to cover and launch that story that week, so at least there will be progress on the publishing front. I should do Kickstarters for those collections as well.

    LOSING STORIES: I had lost several when I reused a prior document to save time on formatting, and forgot to save it as something separate. That’s probably 5 stories over the last five years, and it really bites. Oh well, will have to write some more – but knowing it was there and now isn’t does suck.