More and more, I admire authors who have twenty or fifty or more books out, but I do wonder if they forget what they wrote a while ago. I find it difficult to keep up. There's my first book, which many people I meet in a day in my little town have read and comment on. There's the second one, almost to the marketplace, which editors, proofreaders, and pre-readers have read and need to communicate about. There's the just-contracted one, which is in the first stages of editing, so I've just gone back to it after some time away. And there's the one I'm writing now, which is where my brain is usually centered. Too many people to keep track of.

I have to stop for a second when someone mentions Tessa. Is she someone I know? Nope, she's someone I made up in 2002, a loooooong time ago in the march of characters my imagination conjures. And what was the name I gave the hero's brother, anyway?

If that isn't bad enough, we write other things: short stories, novels that never get finished or manuscripts that never get sold. I sometimes picture Charles Dickens, who didn't have the luxury of "Search," or "Find" commands, gerbiling through pages of handwritten text and muttering, "What in the hell did I call that woman whose husband forbids any more 'flopping'?"

It certainly pays to keep good notes, but even that doesn't help when someone says out of the blue, "I loved the part where the woman in the crannog saved them...what was her name again?"

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Comment by Peg Herring on September 3, 2009 at 8:27am
I feel better: if greats like Block and McBain forget, I'm in good company!
Comment by Dana King on September 3, 2009 at 6:51am
Ed McBain commented many times on his inability to keep Isola's locations straight. Readers would send him corrections all the time. His attitude was he had enough on his mind keeping this story straight to worry about that, though he did also say he probably should have kept a log of where things where and what they were called. (A reader did it for him at one point.)
Comment by Mike Dennis on September 3, 2009 at 6:40am
Lawrence Block, who has written well over 100 novels, cannot remember all the ones he wrote. In fact, in some cases with his very early stuff, the titles and his name were changed by the publisher without telling him until the book came out. He has often said there are some of his novels and short stories he would like to forget, and has, to a certain degree, succeeded.
--Mike Dennis
Las Vegas

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