I Write a Lot Here

I was curious just much I wrote for the Whatever in 2005, so I checked. Leaving out July, in which this space was taken over by my lovely and talented guest bloggers, and not counting what I wrote in comments, I wrote about 220,000 words here in 2005. To put this in perspective, the two novels I have coming out this year, The Ghost Brigades and The Android’s Dream, are about 95,000 and 110,000 words respectively. Or to put it another way, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded will be about 100,000 words, which means the amount of space I will have to cram in six years, three months of Whatevers will be half that of what I write here on an annual basis. Get the shoehorn.

Now, I don’t think you can extrapolate from last year for the entire run of the Whatever; back in the old days, I would skip a couple of days here and there. But if I had to guess, I’d say I’ve probably written somewhere in the area of 800,000 words here since I started in September of 1998. This means that at some point in 2006, probably October-Novemberish, I’ll have written a million words worth of Whatever entries. Which are a lot of words to devote to any one thing.

Writing 800k worth of words takes time, and so here’s an interesting question to consider: Did the time I spend writing Whatevers take away from time I could have spent writing books? Between 1998 and right now I’ve written five nonfiction books and four novels; add those babies up and you’ve got probably another 800k worth of words. One could make the compelling argument that the opportunity cost of writing here over the last several years has been equivalent to nine books I could have written but didn’t.

Fair enough, but I can think of two counterarguments to this. First, I’m not entirely convinced that the time I spend writing here would be entirely transferred to writing books if I weren’t writing here. Of those nine books I written so far, six were written since 2002; that’s two books a year. This year I’m putting three books and a new edition of an older book in the pipline. So, you know, I’m already spending quite enough time on books, thank you very much. I do this to no small extent to get away from the bookwriting. It’s either this or Half-Life 2 deathmatches, and as much as I enjoy using a gravity gun to flatten some pimply 14-year-old’s online avatar with a toilet, deathmatches don’t do anything else for me other than stress relief.

Which brings us to the second counterargument, which should be familiar to most of you by now: Of those nine books that I’ve written, six — including all four novels — were sold either directly or indirectly because this site exists, and the three books I’m writing this year are also directly or indirectly related to this site. So rather than being an opportunity cost, this site has been an net opportunity benefit, and it’s been an 800,000 words well spent, given the rate of return for my book-writing career.

Now, just between you and me, I’d like to believe that one way or another I’d eventually have sold my books and novels, even if I’d never bothered to build this site. But that alternate reality would have required a lot more organization and motivation on my part. So, really, it’s hard to say. I’m just happy that in this reality, my farting around here has had serendipitous results.

That’s 600 more words, incidentally. Well, 604, now. Actually, 607. 609!

12 Comments on “I Write a Lot Here”

  1. I agree that this site has been a benefit for you. I’ve bought both Old Man’s War and Agent to the Stars, and I’ll be buying The Ghost Brigades when it comes out. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this great site a year or two ago, I would probably never have read any of your books unless my (small town) library eventually got some.

  2. There’s a quick way to test the theory that the Whatever is a net win. Just tell your publisher or your agent that you’ve decided to stop posting in favor of writing more books, and watch the looks on their faces.

    Every independent content creator has two jobs: creating their content, and marketing their content. Doesn’t matter whether it’s movies, music, or microcode, you’ve got to find your audience and then sell your audience. If you’re smart, you also need to get feedback from your audience, so that you can better craft your offerings to their tastes. There’s a word for independent content creators that don’t market. It’s “amateur”.

    Rant over. I spend too much time around software guys who have built a better mousetrap, and can’t imagine why the world hasn’t beaten that proverbial path to their door. The Whatever seems like a perfect vehicle for pitching your books. It’s certainly why I bought OMW and am eagerly awaiting The Ghost Brigades.

  3. I’ve noticed that the more I blog, the more I also write fiction. I don’t know what the interrelationship is, exactly, but if the result is that I keep writing, I’m good with it.

  4. Do you think that blogging has “primed the pump” so to say for your other writing? A long time ago Jerry Pournelle was journaling (he isn’t a fan of the word blog even though a case can be made that he had the first one) about writing and said that writers write. So do you think your posts help your writing because you are writing, or do they take up words that you could have sold?

  5. Kevin:

    “Do you think that blogging has ‘primed the pump’ so to say for your other writing?”

    Possibly, although cranking out text has never been a problem for me. In addition to the 800k words each for Whatever and book writing, I’ve probably cranked out a similar number of words for other writing projects in the same timeframe (remember that up until this very year, most of my income came from business/corporate writing and other freelance work). I’m pretty much never not writing.

    As I mention in the main article, I don’t really think these words are taking the place of words I could be selling, because regardless of the undeniable usefulness of Whatever, this site is play for me, and I would need play of some sort to stay happy. What is important is not to play too much when I should be working.

  6. I can’t believe you play Half-Life Deathmatch! That’s awesome. Have you made any posts on Whatever about the game? What map do you frequent? What’s your take on spawn killing? Screen name? Favorite weapon? So many questions… shouldn’t there be more gamers visiting the site of a science-fiction writer? Why isn’t anyone else jumping on this?!

  7. So many questions… shouldn’t there be more gamers visiting the site of a science-fiction writer? Why isn’t anyone else jumping on this?!

    I’m going to go with “because most of us prefer not to be crushed by (presumably) falling toilets.”

  8. Never underestimate the positive effect on your efficiency from a little down time. Maybe without the Whatever, you’d have written fewer books (ok, probably not, but maybe they wouldn’t have been as good…)

  9. Another benefit of Whatever, John, is that we , as surfers on the great Intertron, are able to step off of the neverending bitstream to read your opinions and posts.

    Always thoughtful and well-reasoned, sometimes ironic and usually having a bit of fun, I thouroughly enjoy reading your site. I may even pick up one of your books if I can pull myself away from this key/surfboard.

    Oh, I’m also a gamer but have yet to run across a toilet-flinging enemy in any of my deathmatches. Spawn-killing sucks but spawn-killing with flying toilets must be especially emasculating to the killee.

  10. No way to make this fit the topic…I found your book {OMW} at the local library. Perhaps uninteresting aside from that my local library would be the Barbara Bush Library in Houston Texas. I wonder if she knows what horrible things you have said about her lil ‘W. If his domestic spies find out and tell her…I fear it will be secretly pulled from her shelf and sent to an undisclosed detention center until you stop sponsoring terrorism (you now…by gossiping about the Bush family and all their troubles).

    Barb isn’t just short for Barbara…someone learned them boys how to finagle good. Sure weren’t that no-account husband of hers. Don’t get stuck by the Barb…it won’t heal.

  11. In my previous comment, this sentence:

    “Always thoughtful and well-reasoned, sometimes ironic and usually having a bit of fun, I thouroughly enjoy reading your site.”

    could be describing me while I’m reading your site, but I really meant it to describe your posts and opinions on your site. English really is my native language.

    PS – I’m a different Kevin than “primed the pump” commenter Kevin, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  12. xCookiieMonstax (11:36:20 AM): wats good pat?xCookiieMonstax (11:36:21 AM): lolBlink53090P (11:36:35 AM): not much lol Blink53090P (11:36:35 AM): Board xCookiieMonstax (11:36:46 AM): same herexCookiieMonstax (11:36:50 AM): but im at schoolBlink53090P (11:36:53 AM): i cant wait till im 17 xCookiieMonstax (11:36:57 AM): why?Blink53090P (11:37:02 AM): the army called me 2 day Blink53090P (11:37:13 AM): and the army Drops my charges with u n jullie Blink53090P (11:37:17 AM): and then i go in xCookiieMonstax (11:37:38 AM): =DxCookiieMonstax (11:37:42 AM): Yay for pattyBlink53090P (11:37:53 AM): comment my pics lol Blink53090P (11:38:02 AM): when ever Blink53090P (11:38:02 AM): i need something 2 do xCookiieMonstax (11:38:09 AM): lol i cant get on mysapcexCookiieMonstax (11:38:12 AM): *myspacexCookiieMonstax (11:38:14 AM): they blocked itBlink53090P (11:38:26 AM): ewwww Blink53090P (11:38:26 AM): well later then xCookiieMonstax (11:39:06 AM): lol alrightxCookiieMonstax (11:39:26 AM): So, how are you and Kera?Blink53090P (11:39:40 AM): i think were doing good Blink53090P (11:39:45 AM): but u never know with her xCookiieMonstax (11:39:51 AM): Lol. Your doing fine.Blink53090P (11:39:56 AM): i dident get my chain from lisa Blink53090P (11:40:10 AM): i got a letter from her with my ring n other shit in it xCookiieMonstax (11:40:17 AM): a letter?xCookiieMonstax (11:40:19 AM): Wow.xCookiieMonstax (11:40:22 AM): Just wow.Blink53090P (11:40:34 AM): with my ring n my pics xCookiieMonstax (11:40:35 AM): Yeah, she was talking about you on the bus.Blink53090P (11:40:40 AM): it sead have a nice lifexCookiieMonstax (11:40:53 AM): Hmm. Word.Blink53090P (11:40:55 AM): o then Blink53090P (11:40:56 AM): it sead Blink53090P (11:40:57 AM): lisaxCookiieMonstax (11:41:28 AM): Lol no long speech about how much you mean to her, and how much your the one who is missin out?xCookiieMonstax (11:41:45 AM): Or how she would like to work everything out.xCookiieMonstax (11:41:46 AM): ?Blink53090P (11:42:05 AM): she called me last night telling me that Blink53090P (11:42:17 AM): i heard about 2 mins n i fell asleepBlink53090P (11:42:19 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:42:51 AM): Yeah, thats what she said she sent you, and then she said that you agreed and would like to try again.Blink53090P (11:43:04 AM): FUCK no xCookiieMonstax (11:43:03 AM): If she’d take you backxCookiieMonstax (11:43:06 AM): but she said noxCookiieMonstax (11:43:19 AM): she made it sound like you were crying over her.xCookiieMonstax (11:43:22 AM): it was hillarious.Blink53090P (11:43:35 AM): dose it seam like i was crying over her last night lolBlink53090P (11:43:39 AM): or the night befor Blink53090P (11:43:41 AM): NOBlink53090P (11:43:43 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:43:46 AM): Nah. Lol, but you did get touchy about ehrxCookiieMonstax (11:43:48 AM): **herxCookiieMonstax (11:43:56 AM): but i didnt think it meant anythingBlink53090P (11:43:57 AM): i know Blink53090P (11:44:07 AM): im sry Blink53090P (11:44:15 AM): still trying 2 like whats leaft go Blink53090P (11:44:21 AM): if u know what i mean xCookiieMonstax (11:44:34 AM): You still like her. I know that,.Blink53090P (11:44:36 AM): hahaha u lost ur bet xCookiieMonstax (11:44:38 AM): what bet?Blink53090P (11:44:42 AM): 2 day is a week with me n keraxCookiieMonstax (11:44:59 AM): Wow.xCookiieMonstax (11:45:01 AM): Congrats.Blink53090P (11:45:12 AM): lol naaa 6 mouths is congrats Blink53090P (11:45:40 AM): wow i like this pic thats my DefaultBlink53090P (11:45:48 AM): the river looks coolxCookiieMonstax (11:45:57 AM): Lol the river?xCookiieMonstax (11:46:03 AM): ohhhhh yyyeeeaaahhhBlink53090P (11:46:08 AM): me n kera kissing at the river lolxCookiieMonstax (11:46:11 AM): AwwwBlink53090P (11:46:17 AM): 7 new pics xCookiieMonstax (11:46:19 AM): Damn.Blink53090P (11:46:26 AM): jullies fav is my Rapped upBlink53090P (11:46:27 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:46:31 AM): LMAOxCookiieMonstax (11:46:33 AM): i love that one tooBlink53090P (11:46:37 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:46:40 AM): =D Natural smileBlink53090P (11:46:46 AM): lolBlink53090P (11:46:50 AM): i dont like it that much xCookiieMonstax (11:47:07 AM): Is that one of the pics you put up?xCookiieMonstax (11:47:14 AM): if so then just delete itBlink53090P (11:47:15 AM): ya xCookiieMonstax (11:47:14 AM): =DBlink53090P (11:47:26 AM): i got that put upxCookiieMonstax (11:47:39 AM): Well then dont delete itxCookiieMonstax (11:47:44 AM): i OWN it.Blink53090P (11:47:46 AM): i wount Blink53090P (11:47:48 AM): lol k xCookiieMonstax (11:47:57 AM): Ima leave a comment saying just that later.xCookiieMonstax (11:48:02 AM): If….Blink53090P (11:48:05 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:48:06 AM): im allowed back at julliesBlink53090P (11:48:15 AM): ooo the adam thing ?Blink53090P (11:48:29 AM): or no xCookiieMonstax (11:48:29 AM): No…What Adam thing…?Blink53090P (11:48:46 AM): like how she was getting adam about u n adam chillin Blink53090P (11:49:38 AM): Dam i look good Blink53090P (11:50:39 AM): how long can u talk for lolxCookiieMonstax (11:51:12 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:51:13 AM): sorryBlink53090P (11:51:19 AM): dont worry about it xCookiieMonstax (11:51:20 AM): No its not the Adam thing.Blink53090P (11:51:24 AM): o xCookiieMonstax (11:51:30 AM): Although that does have alot to do with something else.xCookiieMonstax (11:51:36 AM): I flipped out on her && Kera.Blink53090P (11:51:38 AM): ?????xCookiieMonstax (11:51:47 AM): I didnt sleep and i was cranky.xCookiieMonstax (11:51:52 AM): No i like Adam.Blink53090P (11:51:57 AM): ahhhhh xCookiieMonstax (11:51:58 AM): Thats gonna make me && Jullie fight.Blink53090P (11:52:03 AM): i know u do xCookiieMonstax (11:52:06 AM): So idk what to do about that just yet.xCookiieMonstax (11:52:17 AM): Lol is it that obvious?Blink53090P (11:52:36 AM): i know what ur saying n kinda xCookiieMonstax (11:53:04 AM): && it was kinda obvious he likes me.xCookiieMonstax (11:53:09 AM): but idk.xCookiieMonstax (11:53:39 AM): i like him but i wouldnt go out with him. Maybe in the future but not now. I like someone else.Blink53090P (11:54:07 AM): who ?xCookiieMonstax (11:54:21 AM): Someone.Blink53090P (11:54:55 AM): who u can tell me Blink53090P (11:55:01 AM): me Adam Travis joe jj?xCookiieMonstax (11:55:10 AM): Ecccckkkkk Travis….Blink53090P (11:55:20 AM): lolxCookiieMonstax (11:55:21 AM): Joe? Hes good lookin i guess but EWWW.xCookiieMonstax (11:55:38 AM): && jj? Lol you call him that too?xCookiieMonstax (11:56:00 AM): Nah he looks like Fishy Foshee’s boyfriend.xCookiieMonstax (11:56:03 AM): n you?Blink53090P (11:56:12 AM): no i did it just becks u call him that Blink53090P (11:56:24 AM): ya me do u like me lolBlink53090P (11:56:53 AM): lol u stoped talking therexCookiieMonstax (11:56:57 AM): sorry.xCookiieMonstax (11:57:04 AM): The librarian is a bitchxCookiieMonstax (11:57:09 AM): and im NOT stuposed to be on AIMBlink53090P (11:57:29 AM): ?Blink53090P (11:57:29 AM): o its okxCookiieMonstax (11:57:45 AM): N you, yeah of corse i always like you.Blink53090P (11:57:49 AM): i know that Blink53090P (11:58:27 AM): so u like like me ?Blink53090P (11:58:30 AM): or just as a firend xCookiieMonstax (11:59:03 AM): i like youxCookiieMonstax (11:59:13 AM): but not as much as i used to, you have to understand that first.Blink53090P (11:59:23 AM): i know that Blink53090P (11:59:42 AM): wow pancakes are good Blink53090P (11:59:50 AM): sry randomxCookiieMonstax (12:00:10 PM): Then yes, i do still like you. A great deal but not as much as i hurts to see you wit Kera, or anybody else.xCookiieMonstax (12:00:16 PM): and yes pancakes are good =DxCookiieMonstax (12:00:23 PM): but i dont eat breakfest.xCookiieMonstax (12:00:27 PM): lolBlink53090P (12:01:03 PM): my dad made me pancakes n eggs xCookiieMonstax (12:01:33 PM): wow really.xCookiieMonstax (12:01:36 PM): Lucky.xCookiieMonstax (12:01:59 PM): uuuggghh i want those nikesxCookiieMonstax (12:01:59 PM): http://www.12ozprophet.com/Blink53090P (12:02:15 PM): im just sittin on here lookin at ur n keras pics xCookiieMonstax (12:02:25 PM): lolxCookiieMonstax (12:02:28 PM): We crazy.Blink53090P (12:02:41 PM): i know this xCookiieMonstax (12:02:41 PM): Ohhhh heres a question.xCookiieMonstax (12:02:49 PM): Do you still like me?Blink53090P (12:03:02 PM): As a frined Yes very much Blink53090P (12:03:20 PM): 75% i do Blink53090P (12:03:32 PM): and the other is like just cant u know Blink53090P (12:03:35 PM): what i mean Blink53090P (12:03:46 PM): and i know u dont want 2 her this Blink53090P (12:03:57 PM): but i Realy Realy do like kera xCookiieMonstax (12:04:12 PM): i know you do, and why wouldnt i want to here that?xCookiieMonstax (12:04:25 PM): Like yes, i do like you, but not as much to hurt anymore.xCookiieMonstax (12:04:41 PM): Its whatever. Id love to just be friends wit you for the rest of my life.Blink53090P (12:04:42 PM): ahhh Blink53090P (12:04:51 PM): OMFG ITS HERExCookiieMonstax (12:05:00 PM): what?1Blink53090P (12:05:09 PM): MY mixed cd Blink53090P (12:05:34 PM): me rob joey jimmy n River side ppls on it Blink53090P (12:05:47 PM): the dope Dealer robxCookiieMonstax (12:05:55 PM): lolxCookiieMonstax (12:05:58 PM): word.Blink53090P (12:06:05 PM): this shit is HOTxCookiieMonstax (12:06:25 PM): lmaoBlink53090P (12:07:15 PM): my Fav line from me Blink53090P (12:07:17 PM): Its Hard Not To Kill Niggas Its Like A Full Time Job Not To Pull Out The Steel N Stick It In Your Gril”xCookiieMonstax (12:07:18 PM): your gonna have to bring it wit you next time you come and get us to chillBlink53090P (12:07:25 PM): iight Blink53090P (12:07:47 PM): that blog of mine Run thats on there xCookiieMonstax (12:08:18 PM): lol okay.Blink53090P (12:08:31 PM): i think thats the Best joint of all Blink53090P (12:08:41 PM): the ppls we sent it 2 liked it xCookiieMonstax (12:08:53 PM): awesome.xCookiieMonstax (12:08:58 PM): Maybe you ppl will get signedBlink53090P (12:09:01 PM): no one big xCookiieMonstax (12:09:09 PM): Lol.Blink53090P (12:09:12 PM): i dont think so but it would be hot xCookiieMonstax (12:09:12 PM): ohhh okay.xCookiieMonstax (12:09:23 PM): Well thats good to here anyways.Blink53090P (12:09:38 PM): ya Blink53090P (12:09:57 PM): u ever hear of Onyx ?Blink53090P (12:10:17 PM): or J.R Wirter Blink53090P (12:10:30 PM): its kinda like both of them Blink53090P (12:10:30 PM): its hot xCookiieMonstax (12:10:29 PM): YeahxCookiieMonstax (12:10:36 PM): i heard of both of themBlink53090P (12:11:00 PM): lol Brb xCookiieMonstax (12:11:04 PM): waitxCookiieMonstax (12:11:09 PM): im just about to sign off.xCookiieMonstax (12:11:16 PM): Ill ttyl patty watty.xCookiieMonstax (12:11:17 PM): =DxCookiieMonstax (12:11:19 PM):

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