ONE
Fifteen Minutes of Fame;
Death and Taxes

TWO
Writing for Oneself;
Online Writing

THREE
Nagata's Chenzeme
Philosopher Cells

FOUR
Religions

FIVE
Breaking Out of
the SF Ghetto

SIX
Communication

SEVEN
Future People

EIGHT
Science Fiction

NINE
Of Time and
Newsgroups

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Writing for Oneself; Online Writing

by Robert E. Rogoff

1. On writing for oneself

Should one write to please editors/publishers/the public or to please oneself?

Write to please yourself; you might regret having written mainly to please others when you can write no longer. At this point in history, all people have a limited amount of time in which to do everything they'll ever do. Don't waste time writing anything that doesn't please you. If you never get published, at least you will have followed your Dream.

I take issue with those who opine that the goal of writing is to become published, at least in print. Although books still exist, the future of written media (in any format, including e-books) is really not clear.

Perhaps publishing, as an industry, will change so radically that writers will self-publish work as a matter of course, on whatever replaces the Web. At that point, the dictates of a publishing "gatekeeper" might no longer matter.

And finally, when writing becomes frustrating, or you find yourself sacrificing another Dream to continue writing, or you just straight out get tired of writing, then stop writing, at least temporarily.

2. On online writing

Corresponding by email and posting on SFF Net and other online venues such as Usenet is in some sense more ephemeral than writing fiction for publication. Yet, I believe there's a strong likelihood that decades from now all these ephemeral messages we've sent out into the cyber-ether will still be around somewhere, somehow, archived and being examined in excruciating detail by people (or whatever replaces people) for reasons that may or may not be comprehensible to we who post all this ephemera now at the end of the twentieth century.

But it does feel like writing, doesn't it?

So is this way of expressing ourselves a means of continuously perfecting our writing skills, in effect doing warm-up exercises or regular workouts of our creative writing muscles? Or is it really just something to distract us from writing anything more permanent, functioning merely as a catalyst for procrastination?

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Copyright © 1994-2008 Robert E. Rogoff. All rights reserved.