Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Downside of Being Disorganized…

Just Because I Like to Write…

Yup, me and Heinlein’s 4th Rule have a sort of love/hate relationship.

As I have said often, I have no idea how many short stories I have written. Number ranges from 400 and up. Maybe way up. Over 200 have been published in Smith’s Monthly alone.

So while putting the next issue of Smith’s Monthly together, I had a story manuscript in paper, but could not find the file anywhere. So a few days later I had my writing computer basically give up the ghost (lost nothing but the mouse said “Nope” and I tried three different alternatives and all of them said, “Nope.”), so I switched that computer out with a computer I had used eight years back that seemed to work fine.

I was double checking on that computer that I had all my writing files and everything was up to date, when I found a folder on that computer that I did not recognize the name. It was titled something like June 2016. And in it was the file for the story I wanted to put into Smith’s Monthly, and twenty-five other stories I must have written back in June 2016 or something. Who knows, but poof, 26 stories appear.

Then last night I was putting together my 60 stories for the six volumes of Colliding Worlds as I wrote about last night, and I had a list of stories that might work done by Gwyneth from WMG. She had given me a list of 58 of my sf stories that might work, I ended up using about half of the stories on her list to make up the 60 I needed. I was sort of using her list and my spread sheet for Smith’s Monthly stories and then just going through hard copies of each magazine.

But on Gwyneth’s list there were a number of story titles I did not have on any of my lists or files or in any issue of Smith’s Monthly. So today I asked her where she got those story titles.  Seems buried in WMG Publishing’s Dropbox location, way, way deep, under “Old Stories” there were six files all in order of some of my short stories. Maybe another 50 stories or so. I just glanced at it and shook my head and shut the files.) I must have put them there, or someone did, years ago, as a form of back-up and I forgot them. (Shock!) I will be going through my spreadsheets and bringing them into the files to be used or published as well.

And none of that is counting the 50-70 short stories I have in a pile under a side desk that Kris has read and I have done nothing with.

And none of that counts all the horror stories I wrote back in my horror period that I will leave in files, or the hundreds of short stories that only have paper copies that are in my file cabinets in our new office.

And in the new office I am sorting out author copies of books, and massive shelves full are copies of strange anthologies that Kris and I wrote for. I opened one today from Daw Books from 1996 or so and there was a story of mine in the book I do not have any record of.

Of course, in 1985 my house burnt down and I lost well over a hundred short stories (all written on typewriters and only one paper copy), managing only to save a few that were in the mail to editors or that had been published and I could find a copy of the book or magazine,

The lesson of my showing you my stupidity?  You may only have a few short stories, or twenty, but for heaven’s sake, get organized and stay organized, especially if you are starting to become prolific.

I am going to spend weeks and months rounding up my short stories and getting them organized in some fashion or another. Granted, I’m having fun. Sort of like a treasure hunt, only for the stupidly disorganized.


  • Philip

    I’d love to hear more about your “horror period.” I know you write/wrote in lots of different genres, and I do too, but sometimes you get on a roll in one area for whatever reasons. Right now I’m in a “western period” but can see myself going on a tear in another direction.

    • dwsmith

      Pretty much all I wrote from 1982 to 1992 when I started writing for media and discovered how much more fun media like Trek and SpiderMan and X-Men and Men in Black were. Also in that early 1990s period I went back to studying John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee series and shifted more and more toward mystery components in my fiction.

      A few of my horror stories I have reprinted, especially the ones set in nursing homes, And I sold a lot of those horror stories because they seemed to be more toward the mental side than the physical slasher side. The horror of different sorts of prisons people find themselves in. Sold to Twilight Zone and the stories ended up in Night Cry the sister magazine aimed more at horror. But many of those horror stories I won’t bother to reprint. Just not the type of writer I am anymore.

  • Leigh Kimmel

    I keep saying I need to go through all my files and make an inventory — and it never quite gets onto the daily to-do list and get done.

    And it’s a good reminder to update my backups and get an off-site backup made.

  • Robin Prince Monroe

    After too long of a hiatus I’m back to writing, which means I’m back to breathing.

    So I pulled out the little white notebooks that I used in the past to keep copies and to keep track of submissions.

    I’m making new ones for this new start.

  • allynh

    Come on, Dean, be fair.

    Are you really the one to decide what stories that you wrote in the past should not be collected and published.

    The Dean “now” is not the Dean that was.

    Let the reader decide.

    • dwsmith


      I am a mystery and science fiction and humor and fantasy and Twilight-Zone type writer. I don’t want some of those horror stories out there at the moment, not because (honestly some of them are very good people have said and got nominated for awards) but because I want my genres to go a different direction.

      • allynh

        I would buy a Horror collection by you just to see what you call Horror.

        I stopped buying any new Horror years ago. Nothing that is coming out today called “Horror” is actually Horror. I look at the “Best of Horror” anthologies, and if they are the “Best” then I’m not interested.

        They all think that shambling zombies makes Horror.

        I agree with the definition that John Clute came up with. That Horror is about looking beneath the surface and finding what’s really there. That you are sitting at your drafting table, and the wallpaper beside your desk is starting to peel, and you make the mistake of pulling on the curled piece and find out what that paper was covering.

        That makes The Matrix Horror.

  • BJones

    I hope that at some point you did (or will) at least scan in those only-on-paper stories so you’ll have some sort of backup of them.