Thoughts on Whatever in 2021, and in 2022

This was an interesting year for the Whatever, in my opinion. It was a pretty good year for Athena Scalzi content in the eight months she was blogging regularly, and a very good year for Big Idea features. It was a middlin’ year for me, though. I wrote some very good work here this year, but I wrote less of it — this was a year heavy on short bits, cat pictures and other fillers than it was on longer, more thoughtful pieces.

I can think of some reasons for this, but most of them devolve to the same culprit: Burnout from the last few years, and recovery thereof. I think it’s fair to say that I had a breaking point of some sort in the last month of 2020 and the first month of 2021, as did a lot of other people. When the change of administration happened, the rush of relief I felt channeled first into getting Kaiju written on a very tight schedule, and then into writing up the third Dispatcher installment, and then mostly just… resting my brain, honestly. In point of fact, what I needed for most of 2021 was down time. I’m lucky to have the luxury to take that time, and I did.

As a result, the one writing thing that is contingent on my doing it between pay copy — the Whatever — got less of my attention than it usually does. I don’t feel particularly bad about that fact, mind you, and even if I did it wouldn’t change the fact that I needed to curate my brain cycles a little more heavily in 2021 than I had in years previous. This web site is free! You get what you pay for! And you get whatever I decide to give! That said, it wasn’t really until the latter part of this year that it solidified in my thoughts what I was doing, and wasn’t doing, here in 2021.

One reason I noticed it is that in the last month, I’ve been feeling (slightly!) more ambitious about what I’m doing here on the site. A slow year is fine, and I needed it. But my brain is feeling at least a little more recharged, and now — 2022 willing, cross fingers, knock on wood — I have some plans to do more writing on the site in the coming year. And a desire to do so, which is actually important. This will need to be balanced with the need to write pay copy and tend to some other projects (hey, did you see that The Dispatcher got optioned?), but I’m feeling optimistic. We’ll see!

(As an incidental side quest to writing a bit more here, I’d also like to bump up visits; 2021 visits were down slightly from 2020, although about equal to 2019. Some of that comes from writing a bit less, and Athena stepping away from regularly contributing in August. Some of it is the continual struggle of any site away from the current social media standard bearers. The online experience is highly centralized these days. This is not really a complaint, since I do perfectly well on Twitter and through my public Facebook page. But I would be happy to convert some of those folks to folks who visit here from time to time as well.)

It’s nice to feel a bit ambitious for this site again, and hopefully it’ll be fun writing here in the new year. Thank you, as always, for coming along for the ride, whatever the ride is at any one time.

— JS

23 Comments on “Thoughts on Whatever in 2021, and in 2022”

  1. I truly enjoy this site. I may not comment often but I do read it and appreciate your sharing your thoughts about…well, whatever! Looking forward to whatever you have to say or share for 2021! Also, as an avid Scalzi reader, I’m really looking forward to the Kaiju experience!

  2. Many thanks for your writings here, Mr. S., and best of luck going forward. Meanwhile, in the “SF Novel And Movie Years We’ve Lived To” 2022 is when “Soylent Green” is set. It’s PEOPLE people!

  3. Happy new year, and may next year be better for you!
    (Yeah, I have stuff I should have been doing this year, but wasn’t.)

  4. I really enjoyed Athena’s contributions to the blog this year, and your photos are always a bright spot in my day. I think doing less is often just what we need in a crappy year. Owning a church building is sure to make next year more interesting.
    I read a digital review copy of The Kaiju Preservation Society and am quite sure it will be a big hit, as well as delight and entertain many, many readers. It was a highlight of my reading year; many thanks!

  5. 2022 will be a big year for me, featuring the first experience of a Scalzi joint beyond blog ‘n’ Twitter. Kaiju it is!

  6. I always look forward to opening my email and finding you here… Tech question: If I read from my email but don’t actually go to the blog site, does it count as a “visit?” Because I will totally go to the blog site…

  7. Regarding site traffic, I am subscribed to the blog and often just read the post through my email (unless a cat picture doesn’t want to load; then I head to the source!). Does that affect traffic numbers, and would it be better for you and the site if I click through the email and read the content directly? I have no idea how this works . . . .

  8. Do you feel that you’ve been less willing to be snarky and opinionated in public, in the last few years? I mean, it seemed like you made an informed decision to be a bit more neutral and statesmanlike while you presided over SFWA, and then you rather continued that trend, in my impression. Was that on purpose?

  9. For the folks who have questions re: email subscriptions — I do count those and you’re fine! I’m talking more about bringing in new/occasional readers as opposed to established readers. And in fact I’m thinking of, more or less for the first time, promoting the email option.

    Anne Gray:

    I don’t think I’m less willing, no, although at this point it’s mostly focused on Twitter than here, partly because brevity lends itself to snark. I do think I’m more circumspect about wading into writerly controversies, but that’s partly awareness of my bigfooty position in the genre, and partly just being generally tired.

  10. I’ll be a bump and promise to visit more often, comment instead of lurk, because I do so enjoy your thoughts and ideas. Rejuvenated my blog and linked to Whatever in my sidebar in favorite bloggers list. Appreciate your creativity and your books. Part of my reading plan for 2022 is to reread Old man’s War again. Cheers to a wonderful new year!!!

  11. It is good to recharge, John! I have loved Athena’s writing and God bless her efforts and I hope to see her published! I got two of my sons to start reading her work and one of my son’s to read The Dispatcher. So you have a 15 year old fan in Singapore!!!

    This same young man loves the adaptation k to animation that is #Love, Death…. Quite sad to see the current generation loving more of the visual word than the written word. Being an avid reader I feel that I have failed as a Father sometimes when I see my 3 sons preferring videos and audio visual medium to the written word. Hope that changes in time to come and they start reading or I get them to convert :-)

    Wishing you a blessed 2022 with your family and loved ones. A HNY2022 to all your fans as well

  12. I certainly understand being tired, and I have been reading more on twitter in the past year, so I get that too.
    In Social justice activism circles in the last year there has been a lot of emphasis on self care and how to avoid burn out. We keep reminding each other “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” but sometimes it feels more like 5 marathons a year, and almost nobody deep in the grind gets any medals.

  13. Burnout sucks. It can take years to recover, but you’re never the same after. Charles Stross said (about bullying): it’s like crumpling up a piece of paper – you can smooth it out, but the creases remain.
    Been a bad couple of years for many of us, one way or another. Here in the UK, well… wish us luck.
    Hope your 2022 is a big improvment on 2021, however the last year went for you!

  14. John, thanks so much for what you did do in 2021, and I’m looking forward to your efforts next year.

    I look at Whatever every morning, just after The Washington Post

  15. +1 on burnout and recharging. I’ve enjoyed Whatever since the day I tripped over it and will look forward to the Whatever of 2022.

    fwiw, I really can’t with the short-bits forms of social media and truly appreciate those who still write.

  16. As someone who genuinely enjoys your writing, I am glad to read that there may be more content on this site in the next year.

    Also, I personally can’t stand Twitter or Facebook, so I am probably missing some great stuff. My bad.

  17. Thank you for sharing your time with us here and social media. It’s nice to connect with you in ways other than the annual book release. Not only do we get photos, we get the writings of your daughter! Tell the truth, did you ask her, “these people won’t leave and I need to mow the lawn, can you write something? Together we can tire them out. Double Scalzi!!!” ;-)

    Looking forwards to more great posts and adventures in 2022. Plus, I feel I owe you to read my backlog of your books before the next hits the stores. Thanks for everything and wishing you and everyone here a fantastic 2022!

  18. After 15 years of writing my own blog, I flamed out on it hard the last six months of 2021. Down from three posts a week to one, or none. There’s been a sameness to this year that makes posting seem pointless. But I like having a long-form outlet on the internet when I want it, so…

    I’m going to shake things up. I have a plan. I have no idea how it’s going to go. But I need structure and motivation and…and…something.

    Great seeing you and chatting a bit at Worldcon, I’ve really missed my peeps.

  19. You started a “feature”, was it last year or this year * called 5 thoughts or something of the sort. It was cool but I understand why you didn’t keep it up.

    spoiler alerts: 2020 and 2021 were really one big year and 2022 will be part of it

  20. You need to post a picture of a scamperbeast with each post. They will absolutely drive up traffic.

  21. A happy new year for you and your family.
    That all of your plans succed in 2022.
    (If world domination is one of them, please be a gentle ruler)

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