It would only have been a day, had Spooky's laptop not decided to go belly up. Again. Once again, it's probably the motherboard. She's taking it in for repairs today. Fortunately, it's still under warranty. But she'll be without it for a couple of weeks, which is going to make it harder to deal with eBay and various other necessary things. So it goes. She's stuck on my ancient, but dependable, iBook until her laptop comes back.
I wanted to put down some notes addressing John Glover's concerns, posted yesterday, that the "Best of CRK" volume would neglect older tales in favor of new ones. It is a concern that gets to the heart of why putting together the table of contents is proving so difficult for me (though there are other factors, as you'll soon see, that also make it very hard).
Yes, it's true. It's very hard for me to read the older stories (certainly those pre-2000). This is normal. Authors grow. Change. Our voices change, as do our likes and dislikes, etc. But, so far, a good portion of the ToC is comprised of stories written between 1995 and 1999, stories from Tales of Pain and Wonder, From Weird and Distant Shores, and Wrong Things. So, they certainly won't be left out. It helps, too, that very few stories written after 2005 will be included, as those are being reserved for future collections. So, this is mostly Tales of Pain and Wonder through To Charles Fort, With Love and Alabaster. Mostly. There will be very little material from Sirenia Digest, for example. Which helps me to avoid giving the older stories the cold shoulder.
Of course, nothing from the novels written during that time will be included. And none of my comics work (the latter for legal reasons, as all my work for DC/Vertigo was "work for hire," and I don't own it, so have no reprint rights. And getting those rights would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.). This is a "best of short fiction" volume.
But the question of what goes in and what doesn't is more complex than making sure the book represents the full range of my work during this initial eleven-year chunk of my career ('94-'05). The biggest problem I have is in defining the term best. Are we talking about my personal favorites? Reader favorites? Those stories that have been chosen by editors for annual "best of" anthologies? The stories that have won awards? The stories that were only nominated for awards? The stories that have been singled out by reviewers and received the most praise? Stories that mark a sudden stylistic or thematic shift? The stories that have most often been reprinted?
What does best mean in this context? Truthfully, there's no correct answer to that question. All answers must be subjective, relative to one perspective or another. I'm weighing all of these factors (and probably a few more) in choosing the stories.
So, that should offer some insight into how I'm going about this process. When I was offered the chance to do the book, I think my reaction was, "Wow. This will be so easy!" But it's not even remotely simple.
It's 12:49 p.m., and I'm still not awake. Mothmen, get the oxygen tank!
Postscript: I just heard from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press that The Ammonite Violin & Others is down to the last 82 copies. That's only 82 remaining out of 1,800 copies. So, if you want to snag one, you'd better do it very soon.