Once 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.