2. I got some short stories submitted again today, and I had the realization that I really don't have that much old stuff out there. A few old stories. But most of what I'm sending around is from this calendar year or last. I've written seven short stories this year, or I really wouldn't have much in circulation.
Mostly this is good: it means that I've either sold or trunked most of my old stories. It means that a lot of what's out there is what I've done in the last year. But I have a pretty firm psychological attachment to having stuff out.
To put this in perspective, I have seventeen short stories making the rounds right now and an eighteenth waiting because it's a Carter Hall story, and I'm giving On Spec first crack at those since they bought the first two (and anyway I like On Spec). And sending them, like, twelve Carter Hall stories at once seemed like a bad idea for everybody. I know that for a lot of short story writers, seventeen short stories running around in the world sounds like a lot. But this is less than it's been in ages. The main goal is to sell these things, but -- I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with not having very many things bothering editors right now.
I'm also not ready to take time away from the book to write short stories, and if I try to say that I am ready, kick me sharply in the shin. This book deserves attention and real work, not fussing and puttering and wandering off in search of instant gratification. That doesn't mean I won't write any short stories before I finish this book -- I almost certainly will. But I'm not going to put a big focus on clearing the decks until I'm done with it to the point where it's gone to alpha readers. So I will just have to deal with not having as many short stories wandering the planet as I'm used to.
3. The genre "X + Memoir" is annoying the crud out of me right now. I quit reading a library book about building YA collections for libraries because the author had mixed it with self-congratulatory, not-very-good memoir. And now I'm reading a book about India where the author has mistaken me for someone who cares about his childhood. The rest of the book is actually about India -- it's not a memoir that happens to be set in India or anything like that. It's talking about the political events since 1947. But with a big chunk of authorial childhood to swallow on the way. Memoir is its own genre, people. It's a genre that requires skill. You can't just throw it in with whatever else you're doing and have it come out right. If you want to write a memoir that also deals with your life as a brain surgeon or an expert on African-Indian relations or whatever it is that you're good at, great. But you have to be able to write a good memoir, and having some interesting thing that you know a lot about does not make you a good memoirist. It may or may not make you a good person to write about that thing you know a lot about. But it does nothing whatever for your skills in memoir.
This reminds me of fabulists who put poetry in their novels. Sometimes there are people who really are good poets as well as fabulists. But mostly no. I include myself in this: I have an occasional clever turn of phrase and/or thought, and I have written silly poems on more than one occasion, but if I'm going to write a novel featuring Teh Gr34t3st Poet Evar, I will not show you their poems, because I? Am not the great poet ever. Nor can I play one on TV. So if you have a perfectly good book idea about subject X, making it a memoir about subject X should not be your automatic next step. Are we clear on this? Good.