Reader Request Week 2011 #2: The End of Whatever

Todd Stull asks:

At what point could you foresee ending the Whatever? When you become fabulously rich and (more) famous? When John Cusack rolls up in an airplane on your lawn and bits of the planet are splitting off? Only from your cold dead hands? (Disclaimer: None of these questions are to be taken as if I want any of this to happen.)

The simplest answer to this is that I’ll stop writing here when I become bored with it. This has happened before in the past, and when it has, I have taken time off, anywhere from a week to a month (last year I took off six weeks but that was due to travel and catching up on other projects). Usually taking a little bit of time off solves the problem, but if it ever gets to the point where it doesn’t, and updating Whatever becomes a genuine chore, then it’s likely I would stop.

What I think is more likely, however, is that I wouldn’t stop, in the sense I declare an ending point, chop everything off, take up my bat and ball and go home. It’s rather more likely I would just stop updating regularly. The site would still stand, previous entries would be accessible and everything would be preserved; there’s no sense in taking everything down, and the cost to maintain the site is minimal. It’s just that I would update rarely if at all. I would probably turn off the comments to keep the site from eventually collapsing under the weight of spammage, but that’s it.

I don’t see this happening in a general sense because after coming on a dozen and a half years of writing here I haven’t gotten permanently bored with it yet, and in that dozen and a half years I’ve gone from being just some dude writing on his Web site to being a writer of some reasonable note; which is to say I’ve managed to fit Whatever into my working life so far. If I become more famous, or at least, more busy, and have larger constraints on my time I can see cutting back a bit and updating when time and circumstance allow (see Neil Gaiman’s blog as an example of this). But I really don’t see simply walking away from the site, or just closing it up and leaving a hole on the Internet where it used to be. That seems unnecessary.

An interesting question would be whether Whatever could ever eventually change. If it came to the point where I was so busy (or so uninterested) that I couldn’t reliably update the site, I might consider taking on permanent co-bloggers, or expanding the Big Idea pieces to more days of the week, or something else that would keep the site interesting and worth visiting but wouldn’t need me to be the focus of the site day in and day out. This is an interesting option and one I’ve considered for the long term.

But then again, “long term” seems like a funny way to think of a blog, even one that’s been around for a dozen years, which makes it positively Jurassic in Internet Years. For now, I don’t have any plans for Whatever except to keep doing what I’ve been doing with it — writing about whatever I want, whenever I feel like it. That still interests me.

It’s not too late to ask questions for Reader Request Week — post your questions at this link.

10 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2011 #2: The End of Whatever”

  1. The six weeks last year having co-bloggers was interesting. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that, and think most who follow here would like it as well. So long as we still get cat pictures, and maybe the odd Bacon reference now and then. I freely admit that Whatever has led me into the world of bloggers and now I read quite a few weekly. Thanks!! I hope you don’t quit Whatever until I am no longer able to read, but if you did quit I would hope it would be to write four or five new novels a year. Fair trade off?

  2. I read or at least look at Whatever, just about every day. I started about the time the Old Mans War series started and I discovered that you had a blog. I recently read your Agent To The Stars, after some comments here about it. Glad I did. I had avoided it, well, because it seemed sort of light. It was, but in a really good way, thanks. Keep up the good work :-)

  3. The heck you say. Not as long as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is still running.

    Take for example, this tasty morsel from 1998:

    Of course now that I’ve linked to something inside the Wayback Machine, the next time it archives Whatever it’ll suck itself into a never-ending spiral. But at least we won’t have to experience the heat death of the universe! Or rather, if we do, we can be restored from backups.

  4. I like this from that entry:
    “I’ll tell you a story, and I swear to God it’s 100% true…”

    Sorta ironic, now.

  5. Well, if you ever did quit Whatever, you’d get about 100,000 BrainPal requests, in about 10 years time.

    Dear John Scalzi,
    Will you be my BrainPal’s pal? My BP freq is 23.346.580 kHz.

  6. I started reading Whatever when a local library put the (then) new book Old Man’s War on a display shelf. The book was wonderful and the dust jacket mentioned that the author has a blog. I have read it every day since then.

    I am especially looking forward to your reports of progress about Old Man’s War: the movie over the next couple of years.

  7. If you did stop Whatever it would have interesting effects. For many it would be like oxygen turning to acid and the earth hurtling into the sun. For others, based upon how fanyboyish they have become might even have to be put on a suicide watch list or something. I for one would miss site and some of the mirth the responses supply.

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