Hard Drive Deep Dive

The subject of unearthing forgotten stories from your hard drive came up on Twitter yesterday (Thanks, Marcus!), and it prompted me to go to my hard drive (and an external one I use as backup) and see what might be lurking there. Well, in addition to discovering a few forgotten tales, I started wondering just  how many stories, either finished or unfinished, I’ve written over the years and what became of them. So I started cataloguing and spreadsheeting, and here are the results.

Finished Unfinished  Subbed Published % Pubbed Finished Word Count
Flash Fiction 107 3 82 38 36/46 96,300
Short Stories 27 18 25 13 48/52 103,500
Total 134 21 107 51 38/48 199,800

As you can see, I’ve broken this down into flash fiction and short stories. I’ve left out microfiction (too many) and any of my writing that is media tie-in or game-related (not relevant). So this is only works that are wholly my own IP. Obviously, this does not include novels, which is a completely different beast. Okay, let me give you a little more detail on the various columns.

  • Finished. I applied this term to the current form of each story. For example, in many cases I have a story that started out as flash but I later developed into a short story. In that case, I don’t count the flash version, only the finished short story. Finished is a slightly dubious term because much of the “finished” flash fiction is really a first draft and something I wrote during a one-hour flash fiction exercise. Also, a handful of flash pieces are earmarked for development into short stories, so, uh, they are finished for now. It’s also dubious in that three or four of the finished short stories were written in the early aughts when I was, well, not the writer I am today. They would need complete rewrites if I ever wanted to submit them.
  • Unfinished. With short stories this is pretty self-explanatory. I have eighteen stories in progress with something like 1,500 or 2,000 words out of what would be 3,000 or 4,000. It should be noted I will never finish roughly half these pieces. Some of them are ideas I ended up using elsewhere (and finishing) or are so old and, well, terrible, they should never see the light of day. The unfinished flash pieces are basically stories I’m trying to whittle down to under 1,000 words. Of the the three, only one is really worth pursuing.
  • Subbed. This is the number of finished pieces I have actually submitted to flash and short story markets. I’ll freely admit there are plenty I should never have submitted, especially among the flash fiction pieces. They weren’t ready. There’s a couple of short stories that fall into that category too, all of which are very, very early attempts at writing and are, frankly, amateurish.
  • Published. This is simply the number of finished stories I have managed to sell to magazines and anthologies.
  • % Pubbed. This is the percentage of finished stories in each category (flash or short) that I’ve published. The first number is the percentage of finished stories I’ve published, and the second number is the percentage of finished stories I actually bothered to submit I published. These were eye-opening numbers. I generally look at my acceptance percentage as an indicator of how well I’m doing with my work, but this is an interesting gauge too. If we look at the second number, I end up publishing roughly half the pieces I finish and submit. I also suspect my ratio in the last few years is better than this historical one, as I’ve gotten better at determining when a piece is ready for submission (or if it ever will be).
  • Finished Word Count. This is a rounded ballpark number of how many words of finished stories currently lurk on my hard drive. Roughly half that number is published.

Well, if you’ve read this far, thank you for your patience with my obsession for cataloguing and organizing my writing. I fear there’s not much to learn here other than keep writing, keep submitting, and, hey, maybe dig into that hard drive every now and then. You never know what might be lurking there. 🙂

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