22 Years

John ScalziOnce again it is September 13 and once again I am reminded that on this day in 1998, I decided to start writing on my website on a regular basis, writing about whatever came to mind that day — thus “Whatever.” Twenty two years is a fairly long time; in fact, it’s long enough that Whatever is older than one of the current contributors to the site. That’s a hell of a thing.

That contributor is also the biggest change that happened to the site this year, and possibly ever. Whatever is now a multi-generational site, with Athena contributing a few articles a week and doing some backend work for me (including posting the Big Idea entries). We’re doing it because Athena is on a break from college — plague and all — but that doesn’t mean she needs to be on a break from learning, or from building her skills as a writer.

Having her on the site feels very much like an old-school apprentice situation, and we’re taking it seriously; we have staff meetings to plan out weekly schedules and to check on goals and progress. It’s been fun and interesting and also, and really not surprisingly, useful for me as well. If I have Athena on a schedule, I need to be on a schedule, too. Not just with Whatever, but with other writing in my life (and here I look at the manuscript for the next novel).

I don’t know how long this phase of the site will last, but I like that it’s here now, and I like the idea that the site is capable of change and growth. After 22 years, that’s a good sign, I think.

It’s also a reminder to me that although I think of Whatever as being my own personal site — because it is — it’s also become something else over the years as well. You may have noticed an relative increase recently in the number of Big Idea entries on the site; that was a decision I made once quarantine hit and a number of authors, myself not excepted, had to scramble to make alternate publicity plans because just plain showing up at a convention or bookstore wasn’t in the cards anymore. I have the bandwidth on Whatever, so, to the extent it helps other authors get the word out, why not open up the door a little wider.

But a side effect of this and Athena’s contributions is that at this point Whatever is not a majority John Scalzi site. As example, so far this September I’ve written nine entries (not counting this one), Athena has written five and there have been six Big Ideas. I’ve contributed 45% of the content on this site for September so far. I’m a plurality of the site, sure. But not a majority. Save for the rare times where I’ve taken a break and had guest bloggers, this is new.

And again, I kind of like that. Whatever’s been all John Scalzi before and probably will be again; I can see myself being 75 and using this site just to be kind of cranky all the time, I mean, more than I am now. But “whatever” isn’t just a site title, it’s kind of an ethos. This is whatever I want it to be. Right now, I want it to be more than just me. And it is. We’ll see what else happens as we go along.

And yes, we’ll keep going along here at Whatever. 22 years is a long time to have been writing anything, but that’s no reason to stop. I keep enjoying writing here, having this site and watching it become what it is. It’s gone from curiosity to next big thing to being a holdout from an earlier time, all in the space of two decades and change. Who knows what it will be next? There’s only one way to find out.

If you keep coming along with us, that would be grand. Thank you for coming to the site to see what’s here now, whenever that “now” may be.

— JS

45 Comments on “22 Years”

  1. I’m glad you plan to continue. The rhythm of blogs–loose, but deliberate and calmly paced–is much needed ballast to the frenetic intensity of Twitter or Reddit. I put down my phone after Twitter sessions and usually feel more uneasy and tense than when I started. Blogs in general and Whatever in particular are about the kind of reading I grew up with before my phone claimed in increasingly big piece of each of my days. Thank you for taking the time and, father of two children close to Athena’s age, I’ve enjoyed watching your on-boarding of her as a fresh voice.

  2. I’ve been a daily visitor to this site since 2002, and will continue to come along for the ride as long as you choose to keep it running. That your decision to write here on the regular came on my birthday is, for me, the happiest of accidents. Cheers!

  3. Congratulations on 22 years! I can never forget the date this was started because it coincides with my daughter’s birtdate. I have always enjoyed reading it. Thanks for your time and effort.

  4. Congratulations on 22 years. I first discovered Whatever in the fall of 2009 from your column on amctv.com. That was a tough period in my life, and I was happy to have a pleasant distraction. Thanks for your writing and putting up with my nonsense for all these years.

  5. Whew, the way this started, I was afraid you were warbling a swan song…must google that reference player to find its origin. Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed dropping by to feel edjamacated by your insights. Also, how does one spell “edjamacated?” I’m sure I’ve seen the bastardization in print before. Or are made-up words beyond the rules of proper spelling?

    It is entirely possible I’ve had too much caffeine. I don’t usually trip over A.D.D. thoughts like this. Or at least, not in public.

    Keep on keeping on. If you ever want to mentor the universe at large, let us know!

  6. Congrats on this milestone, change, renewal, all that.

    FWIW, the first time I ever heard of you was when a co-worker showed me your recipe for Schadenfreude Pie, with Athena helping. Nice to see it’s come full circle, or at least full spiral.

  7. Congrats on the anniversary, Scalzi and Daughter. Can’t wait to see what the next 22 years brings.

  8. Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed the years I’ve been reading here, and I look forward to many more. I appreciate the generosity of the frequent posts, and their entertaining and thoughtful tenor.

  9. Wow, congratulations! I’ve been enjoying Athena‘s contributions and continuing to enjoy yours. Considering that I like reading and like adding books to my list, I’m more than happy to to get additional Big Ideas!

  10. Happy Anniversary! I hope you are celebrating with ice cream and cake (and if you’re not, let me know, and I will do so on your behalf).

    Here’s to 22 more!

  11. Congrats on 22 years! I’m a relative newcomer, as I’ve been following you now for about a year and a half. Athena is a welcome addition; she turned me on to the webtoon “Lets Play”, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and I can’t wait for it to start its next season. (Thanks, A thena!)

  12. Congrats! 22 years is a good long time. I’m not an original reader – I started being an almost daily reader after reading Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded. Never had cause to regret a visit. Also, thank you for the Big Idea columns, Not all the time, and not very often, but I have found authors that were new to me, that have since become favorites.

  13. Your blog and Bruce Schneier’s are the only ones I still read after all this time. So many others are rarely updated and content was moved into the sphere of large Silicon Valley companies. But I appreciate checking out spaces like this where I might read something I didn’t know. Thanks.

  14. Let me also add my congratulation on 22 years. Whatever has gone through a lot of changes since I first started reading, but the changes have been, by and large, good. If the reduction in your posts means you are spending more time writing, I’m in favor.

  15. “I can see myself being 75 and using this site just to be kind of cranky all the time, I mean, more than I am now.”
    I can, too, but for me it’s only a bit less than a week ago. I’ll continue to let you be “cranky” for me, it eases the pain of no longer being 19.

  16. Congratulations on a long-lived and lively blog. Like Pat H earlier in the thread, I learned of this blog thanks to Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded (I mean, who can resist an attitude like that?). I’ve also enjoyed reading your science fiction. Thanks for bringing the wit, the snark, the astute commentary, the honesty, and the fun!

  17. I became aware of your internet presence as a frequenter of Making Light, and became a daily reader around “Omelas State University,” I think. Thanks for all the goodness you provide. Until 120, as my people say!

  18. Oh, sorry for the PS, but, cartoon by Ivan Brunetti. You may assume people know that because it’s on all the anniversary posts, but there are always new readers too! #AlwaysCreditTheArtist

  19. I can just see Scalzi in 2050 complaining about how no-one reads traditional SF/F like Jemisin and Kowal and Bear, and it’s all this new-age crap by robots, about robots, for robots, or “binary people” as we’re supposed to call them.

  20. I’m enjoying. Thank you both–and the contributing authors–for making me informed, making me smile (or laugh out loud), and most often? Making me ponder.
    And, as an author who has done a Big Idea this year? Immense gratitude for that. It really is a bit of a drought and I felt this was a special joy.

  21. Congratulations on 22 years! I’m a new reader, so I can’t compare the new version of this blog to older ones, but I am really enjoying this combination of your posts, Athena’s, and the Big Ideas! It’s been wonderful to have two different, but thoughtful, perspectives. The extra Big Ideas are also appreciated – I love being introduced to more interesting books, especially as I have found myself with more time to read this year! Thank you, and again congratulations!

  22. Happy Whatever Day! I have enjoyed reading here for a few years now, under various usernames as things changed on the internet. I hope you continue to enjoy posting here, because it is genuinely a joy to read your thinky bits on the regular. You, your occasional guest contributors and Big Idea pieces, and now Athena, have interesting and fun things to say. This one of a dozen or so sites I check almost every day and I hope to continue as long as it lasts.
    Thanks!

  23. Congrats on 22 years! I haven’t been reading Whatever quite that long, but I’ve been here several years. I started ranting at people who were WRONG on the Internet back in the 1990s, on UseNet. It would be a few years before I had a place of my own to post my own content, which was mostly backup hostings of random writings (originally posted to alt.gothic) and fanfiction. According to Fanfiction.net’s datestamps, I posted my first fanfic 20 years ago this year.

    Where do years go?

  24. Congrats, John, on 22 years of “whatevering” :) . 22 years ago I was ending my freshman and starting my sophomore years in high school. Boy, how time flew (got my 20th coming up next year). Anyway, I fell in love with your writing through OMW and found your blog a little while later. Good news is I haven’t left since. Thanks for the good times and keep going.

  25. Thank you for your commitment to us little folk. I have found many blogs where they ran out of things to say. This is one of my go-tos.

    Congratulations are also in order.

  26. Happy blog birthday. I have no idea how many years I’ve been reading Whatever, but I keep a tab open to it in my browser so it’s always available for checking in each day. I used read many more authors’ blogs, but so many folks have transitioned to Twitter and other social media sites that I’ve lost track of what they’re up to. One of my long-time favorites actually released a book that I didn’t even know about because I don’t follow her on Facebook. Sigh. Thank you for keeping this site live and I’m enjoying Athena’s input too.

  27. Go easy on that 75 year old stuff, that’s me come March.

    22 years of the whatever? Excellent. Athena being part of it better yet.

    Life is way to short make the most of it.

  28. Happy Whateversary! I first started visiting here when the Scamperbeasts were fighting epic battles over the best sunny spot on the stairs. I keep visiting because Whatever, then as now, is an oasis of sanity, intelligence, literacy & humor in an Internet otherwise lacking in them. Not as many Views from Hotel Windows these days, which is just as well, since in 2020 a hotel stay is likely to be a fortnight-long quarantine sentence.

    Here’s to 22 more!

  29. Congrats on 22 years; I’ve been enjoying the ride for a while now and hope to continue. :)

  30. Congrats on 22 years. Keep on keepin on.

    Honestly, I think Athena broadens the perspective nicely. I do see some similarities in writing and sensibility but she definitely adds to the enterprise.

  31. I knew your site was famous when I found Your Hate Mail Will be Graded, but I didn’t buy the book. Then I got into the site and wished I had. But the book was no longer around. Years later I was happy to find a lone copy in the basement of the Forbidden Planet store in London, England. So now I feel caught up, at last.

    Like your mother-in-law, I like your science fiction, but I haven’t tried to find any of your other books.

    I like this blog because it is smart like how I imagine people talking in university, except in school people don’t have to be malleted.

  32. Ups, I’m a Day late, but whatever…
    ;)

    Congratulations for the 22 anniversary. It’s good to see that you keep writing in your site.

    It’s hard to rindo a good site to read.

    Thanks and may 22 more years to come.

  33. 1998 — wow, that was just 10 years before I retired from software development…

    Now I have more time to read blogs and be cranky myself. Thanks, Scalzis for helping with the cranking up!! Keep up the good work. Best wishes to the whole Scalzi clan, cats and all ~!~