Managing Whatever These Days

I was asked while I was at Comic Con whether I find it more difficult to write and maintain Whatever these days, because of all the other work I do and also because profile seems to have been raised a bit recently. It’s a fair question, so I thought I would delve into it briefly here in public and let you know what I gave as the answer.

(Be aware that the following has me acknowledging that there are people in the world who see me as something of a special snowflake, which is an inherently obnoxious admission in a world where one must be at least superficially humble about this crap. Don’t worry, I have a pretty good idea where I am on the fame food chain (i.e., sardine level). It’s still a level where the above question is not an unreasonable one.)

1. As regards all the other work I do, no, it’s not a problem. I’m busy right now but I’ve been busier. I do plan to take a month off in August to focus on non-blog stuff, but I’ve taken breaks around here before, for reasons ranging from work to technical issues (the involuntary nearly-two-months-off stretch in the summer of ’07 stands out for that phenomenon), so that in itself is not terribly unusual. To be blunt about it, the taking the time off plan relates less to the amount of work I have than it does with my time management, i.e., if I had managed to keep track of what I was doing, I wouldn’t have take time off to focus on the paid stuff. This is not unusual for me, alas. My excuse this year is coming off of six weeks of travel and overestimating my ability to do anything else but travel in that period. I’m sure in the future I will have some other, similarly entirely rational excuse for my sloth.

Be that as it may, it’s nice to be busy and being busy often means I write a little more on the blog, because perversely, writing on the blog is often a bit of a recreation for me from work. It’s the “busman’s holiday” principle of things.

I will say that there are times when I will time writing about an issue I know is contentious for when I have the ability to deal with the fallout, i.e., when I have time to keep track of the comment thread and wield the Mallet of Loving Correction. But I’ve been doing that for a while now anyway.

2. In terms of profile being raised, I don’t see it as much of a problem either, although I am aware recently of, how to put this, becoming a slightly larger target for people’s ire. As in, regardless of what I write about, there’s now a slightly higher chance that someone will call me out for being smug and/or obnoxious and/or grandstanding and/or being a pawn of whatever group they think I am a pawn for and/or being clueless and/or being some sort of “-ist” and so on.

On that score I don’t know that there’s much to be done; as a general rule I try not to be an ass online, but it’s also true that when you comment on anything, from controversial topics to the topics you can’t possibly imagine are controversial to anyone but apparently are for some people, someone will find your particular position on it asstastic. If that person has a point (and from time to time they do), then I try to learn from it moving forward. If they don’t, then I shrug and move on anyway.

There’s also a slightly higher chance that if I comment on something someone has written about me or my work on a blog, and point to it from here, that someone will accuse me of unleashing my minions to hound and silence that person, or such. The idea there being that you are all my hounds of war, crouching for employment, etc. I see this as fundamentally silly, but then again, I did just ask all y’all to shame some thief with one-star reviews, so maybe it’s not so silly after all. In this case I’ll just fall back on the Spider-Man Maxim (“with great power comes great responsibility”), and otherwise trust that you people are smart enough not to go off and be assjacks just because you think that’s what I would want.


29 Comments on “Managing Whatever These Days”

  1. otherwise trust that you people are smart enough not to go off and be assjacks just because you think that’s what I would want.

    Don’t worry, John. You couldn’t afford my going rate for assjacking.

  2. I have dibs on being a dark brindle hound of war with a black mask, and white toe tips. Because the white toe tips are very classy..

  3. Hounds of War? Wait, I thought we were you’re drooling minions of mirth, or something slightly slug like. What was it Harlen called us? I can’t remember.

    Anyway, has anybody else noticed that our Scalzi needs to take Augusts off? IIRC for the past few years this seems to be a pattern. And now I’m beginning to wonder just what the (nefarious?) purpose of these absences are (because our host is always mysteriously mum about it). Is John returning to his home world to receive more instructions and/or have his snark batteries recharged? Are there strange ceremonies happening in the dark places of Darke County (dark things in Darke County, sound vaguely “Something Wicked This Way Comes”) that he must rest up during the days? Does John go hunting at night to feed the ravenous beast of his creativity (is that what all the rumors of the chupacabra being seen in SW Ohio are about)?

  4. We are the War Puppies! Paws of Doom! (This was my spouse’s response after hearing the other comments. )

  5. Actually there was a group of kids from the mean streets of Brooklyn who joined the SCA and tried to call themselves the Dogs of War, but were promptly dubbed the War Puppies by their mentor. They’ve been the War Puppies ever since, and have at least one King to their credit.

    John, anyone who thinks going and being assjacks is what you would want hasn’t been reading this blog.

  6. OK, Xopher, I had to go to the Acronym Dictionary… I’m guessing Society for Creative Anachronism; that seems more likely than Student Conservation Association, or Shanghai Changhi Airport, or Scottsdale Christian Academy, or any of the other 170 definitions that came up.

  7. Xopher@708 We know about the War Puppies, which is why it was the first thing we thought of. I can’t get to Pennsic this year, but I usually camp with Clan Blue Feather, which is in the same block as the War Puppies.

  8. While you are gone, can I troll some old posts no one reads anymore?

    Profane the Scalzi and face the wrath of angry dogs. (Gives me an idea for an iPhone game.)

  9. “…there are people in the world who see me as something of a special snowflake.”

    Hmmmm. “Special snowflake” is not something anyone usually needs to be humble about, in my world. I’ve never used it as anything other than an insult.

    Or I’m just misunderstanding you. In which case, I blame too much time on the computer.

  10. “Anyway, has anybody else noticed that our Scalzi needs to take Augusts off? IIRC for the past few years this seems to be a pattern.”

    OMG Scalzi’s a psychotherapist!

  11. It was dirty pool to send me a box labeled “books from the Scalzi basement” and then have it turn out to contain a needle coated with were-badger saliva.

  12. John, I figure you can take care of yourself just fine all by yourself and don’t need anyone to do that for you. Anyone who reads here should know that by now.

    @Xopher at 7:08 – that is such an SCA thing. We always warn newbies here in Nordwache that they better pick a name sooner rather than later, because if they don’t, one will be picked for them, and it *will* stick.

  13. Concerning #2, i guess that is a small taste of what other public figures have put up with for a long time whether it be politicians, actors, etc who are sometime criticized here? I guess the next step in know you have truely arrived is when people create their own fansites in reverence to you or alternately create hate sites.

  14. I do like how you employed the plural of “y’all”.

    On the other hand, do we have to be the hounds of war? How about, the Tree Sloths of Incessant Needling?

  15. Sardines are almost as awesome as salmon paste
    with fish sauce and liquid smoke and cheese.

    About canned mackerel.
    Nowadays, that canned m. is a bunch of fish tails
    jammed into a can.
    Before I’d learned to (I was a wee small lad) the poor
    things in the can weren’t poor little baby fish tails.
    They were chunks of a fish that was bigger than the
    Much bigger.

    About sardines.
    Modern sardines seem to be canned mackerel.
    It’s like they are aren’t even smoked before they are
    tinned up.

  16. I’d rather be The Quoll of Discontent if that’s ok. Down under those other animals have a rather nasty reputation. Although given the situation, perhaps we should be the Cane Toads of Trouble. They’re nasty poisonous creatures that spread everywhere leaving a trailer of destruction in their wake and can’t be controlled once someone releases them. Seems apt.

    @wonders: the hate site bar is pretty low these days. There’s such an abundance of cane toads that there’s almost enough for everyone. I think having more than one fan site is a better measure.

  17. I have to say that right now I’m seriously torn between joining the “Drooling Minions of Mirth” and the “Tree Sloths of Incessant Needling.” They both seem kinda like my thing. Is it possible to get the equivalent of dual-citizenship?

  18. Cry cheeble and unleash the hamsters of war!!

    (Can I be the Greyhound? People say they’re just cats with a birth defect…)

    John, you’ll know you’re high profile when fans start making pilgrimages to Bradford to drive past your house to make sure it looks like all the photos. And you can’t fool me — I know you’re taking August off so you can spend quality time in the Annie Oakley museum in Greenville!

  19. Totally unrelated to this post, I just wanted to take this moment, having just finished ‘Red Shirts’ on my nook on the train this morning:


    Thank you, you may now return to your regularly scheduled post.

  20. Jay-zuz! If you are sardine level that makes me . . . WTH is lower than krill?

  21. It is just a matter of time until a young woman makes an explicit video in tribute to John Scalzi comparable to the Ray Bradbury tribute song. There will soon be young woman flashing him at his book signings and offering to come back to his hotel room. He is turning into a rock star. Lets just hope he handles it well and does not descend into Charlie Sheen land and start blogging about tiger blood.

  22. I’m the Manchester Terrier of War! We’re small, but mighty, loyal & fast! John, can your dogs of war have Special Snowflakes as a code name? Like, you could just write special snowflake in a blog post, and we’d know what to do! :o)

    (Maybe the reason John takes August off is for Pennsic… It’s not far from where he lives. what do you think Xopher?)

  23. John, I found your Whatever! Blog several years ago via a link from Wil Wheaton’s blog. I immediately went out and bough “Old Man’s War”, which I loved very much. I had trouble getting into “Ghost Brigade”, and subsequently didn’t finish it. ( I know, I’m sorry). I came across “Android’s Dream”, however and bought it with high hopes! I LOVED it! I do hope the Earth calls upon Harris Creek again some day, because he’s a great character. It is now my intention to buy all of your other books, so be prepared to buy those new shoe laces you’ve had your eyes on; you know the ones I’m talking about!!

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