On Ten Years of Writing Whatever
Well, first off, it doesn’t feel that long ago, but then, one of the things you learn as you get older is that very few things actually feel like “that long ago.” The past is always closer to the present than it’s assumed to be.
Second, for something that was basically a way to goof off, it’s funny how integral Whatever has become to my professional life. I’ve gotten lots of writing gigs because people like what I write here, sold dozens of Whatevers as reprints, had four books published because their contents were here first and won a Hugo, for crying out loud, for the things I write in this space. I suspect I would have been successful as a freelance writer and novelist without Whatever, and I also suspect that if I were to leave Whatever behind, I would still do just fine. But there’s no doubt in my mind that writing here has made lots of things easier.
Third, I think that I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, as far as blogging went. There is some value in being a first generation blogger — being one of the people who did it before it was known as “blogging,” and did it for the hell of it, rather than doing it because everyone else was doing it, or because the rumor was it was useful for your career, or because it seemed like a good way to get free money through advertising, or whatever reason people felt compelled, sometimes against their own personal interest, to put themselves online. This site had none of those expectations; it was just a place for me to keep writing in a certain way. It is what it is because of this complete lack of plan. Naturally, this suits me because I like the idea of doing things just to see what will happen. It also means that whatever happens with the site will be fine with me. When you have no plan, you can’t say things didn’t go the way you expected, because you had no expectations to start.
I think it’s also something people like about this place — that it’s sort of an overgrown, organic thing rather than something designed from the start as an eyeball magnet, or a place for authorial marketing, or whatever. This isn’t to say that I don’t promote myself or write stuff here I figure people will link to — I do both, quite obviously — but I think it’s also clear that there’s a lot here that’s here simply because I want to say something about it, or because it amuses me, or both. Which is to say it’s a not-entirely-inaccurate reflection of me: easily amused, easily bored, messy, interested in lots of stuff, somewhat egotistical, and sometimes just plain weird (by the way, I didn’t end up drinking the pickle juice yesterday. Just seemed like a beverage too far, you know?).
Fourth, sometimes Whatever is a real pain in my ass. Believe it or not, there are entire weeks and occasionally whole months when I just don’t want to post a damn thing here, but I feel obliged to, not in the least because (no joke) if I skip I day I get actual concerned e-mail wondering if I’ve fallen down a well or something. Now, mind you, part of that is merely me pushing the blame for my own vague OCD-like compulsion to post onto other people. But on the other hand it can be a real challenge to balance the time I put in here with the time I spend doing other things (notably, writing novels). One of the things I’m confronting about myself is that I really suck at time management, and this is one of places where I suck at it the most.
(Indeed, if I ever do put advertising on the site, one of the reasons I have in my head to do it is so I can hire an assistant who can do all the mundane stuff, like, oh, mail out copies of books I’ve promised to people, so I can just keep doing all the goofy, easy crap, like writing. I could have Krissy do it, but, you know, she has a job, and it doesn’t involve me. Now, mind you, if I get an assistant, he or she would assist me in other things aside from the Web site. But helping me around this place would be one of the big duties.)
In any event, I do love writing the Whatever; it’s why I do it. But sometimes it really is like a job, and sometimes I just want to leave it alone. I don’t think you do any sort of work for as long as I’ve done this without feeling that way from time to time. Don’t worry it’s not you. In fact,
Fifth, this site has had five years without comments and five years with them, and the five years with them have been better, because the people who comment here are (usually) smart and civil and good people. I think it’s really neat there’s a community of folks here, because in many ways it makes what I do here easier; sometimes when I don’t feel like writing much of anything I just point you folks in the general direction of a topic and off you go. Makes the place interesting and I don’t have to do a damn thing. So thanks for that.
Also, in general, thanks for your tolerance of me, because, as many of you know, some days having an argument with me is like walking into a buzz saw, and yet most of you forgive me for that, which I appreciate.
Sixth, and finally, I have no idea where Whatever goes from here, except to say I expect Whatever will go on from here. Aside from that: who knows. As mentioned earlier, Whatever began without a real plan, and it’s worked so far. I think I’ll keep at it that way.
But I can plan this much, and that is to say that whether you’ve been reading Whatever since the early days or just started reading this week, thank you for reading. It’s meant a lot to me in the last decade. Thank you for being a part of it all.
And now: Moving forward.