Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I don't know if it quite counts as "Summer Vacation" when it doesn't arrive until mid-late August, but whatever. I have 3 weeks off between semesters, during which I plan to do almost nothing except read and write. The Summer semester was possibly the roughest I've had. But then, I might think that at the end of every semester.

I'm not a very timely blogger. But for anyone living under a rock, The Collagist, DZANC's new online venture, launched a few days ago. I had pretty high expectations, but it really blew me away. I loved all of the fiction, Matthew Salesses was the only writer there who was new to me, and his piece was excellent. Also, I really want to know if Kevin Wilson has written more pieces "From the Big Book of Forgotten Lunatics," and if so, I want to read them. Anyway, anything I could possibly say has been said in probably dozens of places on the interwebs at this point, so I will just keep it short and say that The Collagist is really good stuff, and Matt Bell is an awesomely nice guy who is totally deserving of the success.

On a self-serving note: if anyone is actually out there reading this, who happens to have ever put together a full-length collection of stories, I have some questions. Such as: how do you decide when a collection is "done"? How do you determine the right length? For a novel or novella these seem like unnecessary questions, because the length is just however many words you needed to tell that particular story in the way you wanted to tell it. But with a collection, I write short stories and I'm going to keep writing short stories, it isn't a singular project with a beginning and an end. I'm starting to try to assemble something like a collection, and I have no idea at what point I say: this is a collection, it's finished. Some are so slim and others not so much. How do you decide?

I'm going to finish reading Monkeybicycle 6 now, delighting in my homeworkless state.


  1. I've been thinking about your collection question. For my forthcoming book Cloud and Other Stories, I included all the fiction I've written that I like well enough to include--simple as that. I wanted it to be between 100 and 200 pages. I think a lot of collections are too long, which is why I didn't want it to be a massive volume, even though the length was arbitrary. If I had less stories, it would've been shorter, and vice versa. Hope that helps somewhat.

  2. Thanks, Jason! It's really helpful to hear how others approach it. I have about 130-some pages worth of stuff I'm pretty set on including, but I don't know how to draw that line of "this is done, I'm going to start looking for someone to publish it" vs. giving it a few more months and seeing if I've written more I want to add.

  3. You're welcome. You may also want to think about theme or plot. Those can factor into the organization and size of a collection, too.