What to Do With 30-Plus Years of Papers, Drafts, Correspondence, Projects?

(“Found object” associated with a series of fantasy novels I wrote in my early teens.)

One project for this year is to get a handle on 30-plus years of papers, correspondence, rough drafts, and what I would call “project histories.” This includes a lot of material from before email and the internet, which means sometimes quite long letters with other writers and people in publishing, some of them well-known at the time and some of them now quite well-known but obscure then. It also includes all of┬ámy wife Ann VanderMeer’s correspondence and history with projects like her indie press mag The Silver Web (fiction and art) and from her five-year stint at Weird Tales. And because we were active in small press in the 1980s-90s, there’s a treasure trove of old issues of horror and fantasy magazines not only now defunct but also not much mentioned on the internet, because they existed pre-internet or just on the cusp.

(My sister Elizabeth and me, in Fiji.)

The project histories are things like a complete record of correspondence, process, editing, and PR for Stepan Chapman’s The Troika, which we published in 1996 and was the first book from an indie press to win the Philip K. Dick Award. But also the complete histories of most of our anthologies–putting them together, etc. Ann’s been very good about keeping that stuff organized in filing boxes. In addition, I have a pretty good record of my start as a poet submitting to poetry magazines and of my various magazine projects in the 1980s and 1990s. Lots of stuff connected to fantasy/SF but also to the literary world.

Then you add on top of that my (sometimes chaotic) history of drafts of novels and stories, along with editorial correspondence, and right now it all fills a rather large storage unit. Especially since some of the stuff dates back to when I began writing when I was eight or nine.

(My first, self-published collection, with illustrations by my mother. Still have the original layout pages.)

I have no idea if any of this stuff is valuable to anyone, or of use, but I do have a general sense that I shouldn’t dump it all in the backyard and have a bonfire, either. Hopefully this year at least we’ll get around to cataloguing and organizing the stuff that needs to be gone through.

1610872_10152754385319195_4409525231325839926_n(Correspondence from Thomas Ligotti and Rikki Ducornet, two of my favorite writers.)

7 comments on “What to Do With 30-Plus Years of Papers, Drafts, Correspondence, Projects?

  1. Mike Glyer says:

    Why wouldn’t you deposit it in a university special collection? There are several outstanding institutions with growing sf coverage.

  2. George R.R. Martin says:

    Any of the major science fiction collections at university libraries would be glad to have your papers. You can donate them, or put them on deposit… and if you don’t want them made public right away, they can be sealed until your death.

    The Eaton Collection in California is the largest, but has had troubles lately. I recommend the collection at Texas A&M in College Station, where my own papers are stored, along with those of Howard Waldrop, Lisa Tuttle, and many others. I can provide contact info if you like

  3. Shaun Duke says:

    I’m with GRRM on this. Donating to a university would be a great idea. I wonder if the University of Florida would be interested in having a special collection of your materials, especially given that much of your work addresses issues that university is quite interested in.

  4. Cushing Libary at Texas A&M. You’d be in great company alongside Mr. Martin above!

  5. Jeremy Brett says:

    Dear Mr. VanderMeer ,

    Good afternoon! I hope you’ll forgive my forwardness, but I recently became aware of your situation regarding your archives, assembled over decades. I’m the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection at Texas A&M University, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. I would be pleased, and honored beyond words, for Texas A&M to be your repository of choice for your valuable archives. I’d be happy to talk with you further on this if you like, or to help you locate an alternate nstitution that suits you. The materials of both you and your wife are SO significant to the history and development of the genre, that I would like to help in any way that I can to make sure that they are preserved for future generations of researchers and fans alike.


    Jeremy Brett

  6. Thanks, George–I’ll be pondering this week. Jeremy–thanks for your kind comment. I’ll think about it. The thing is, some of this material is outside of the realm of SF/F, too.


  7. Jeremy Brett says:

    Dear Mr. VanderMeer,

    Thanks very much for your own kind comment to my comment. :) I look forward to hearing your decision, whatever it may be.

    Be well,
    Jeremy B.

Comments are closed.