Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Is it even worth it to write for the Internet anymore?

One of the things I have on my to-do list for the weekends is to update my website. That is, I should normally update the site on the weekends. Sometimes, my weekends get too crazy and I don’t have the time. But, time permitting, I make it a point to update the ol’ site.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of time available for website updates. I’ve got other things on that to-do list I plan to tackle. Plus, like I said, things can get busy on the weekends. With this in mind, I dreaded the task of updating one page in particular on my website. This page has a ton of links on it and I knew many of those links no longer worked. Not too long ago, I spent some time giving my site a HUGE overhaul and got rid of a lot of old or inactive links and items. This page did not get an update, however, but I knew that still had to get done.

Well, today, I got that done. I knew I would have to remove a lot of dead links, but I was not expecting such a large number. All told, I removed the links to 34 articles, poems and book reviews. These sites are no longer active or the site owners just removed those particular items. Some were replaced with similar work written by other writers.

And while 34 may not seem very much to some people, it was more than enough for me. I take pride in having had so much of my work published, and now that’s 34 articles, poems and book reviews gone forever. (Believe me, I have removed A LOT more in the past after one site shut down.) I can no longer say I wrote over 80 articles for one site in particular, because now that number has dwindled.

And unfortunately, prospective editors I’d love to work with or agents or future clients may happen to notice. That number of active links to work online will get smaller and smaller in the future, and then it won’t seem like I’ve had much published online at all.

The fact that I had to delete these items does not bother me – I know that nothing lasts forever so I accept these disappearances. But it still would be nice if that article was still out there or that poem was still out there. In print. Forever. But because it’s on the Internet, it won’t be.

Nothing on the Internet lasts forever.

This made me wonder if it’s even worth it to write for the Internet anymore. I mean, if my work will eventually disappear, then why bother? Why go to the trouble? I would rather invest my time in writing and selling something that lasts forever. Not something that will disappear after a site shuts down.

I have several copies of the SIGNews newspaper, a newspaper I once wrote for, and they are in a crate in my garage. They may not be visible to everyone who might see them, but my articles are still in them. They are still there.

I also have copies of magazines my short story, poetry, essays and articles have appeared in. Their sites don’t exist anymore, but my work is still in the magazines. They’re still there!

The same could not be said of everything I have published on the Internet. All that stuff on that page will disappear at some point. Then I can’t really say I wrote all that stuff – unless I print it all out and actually show it to someone. Or I could save them all in one PDF file and keep it on my site. But even then, is it even worth the trouble to archive anything on my site? Will anybody even care anymore? Because, let’s face it: New stuff will be out there! This will all be old stuff.

This is why I prefer to write books over Internet content. Books have a stronger sense of permanency. They may be removed from the market at some point, but we have a way of getting them back out there again. Books actually last. The articles I write on the Internet won’t last, and the book reviews won’t last. But my books will. I’ll still have my own copies, anyway. My books will always exist no matter what happens. But the stuff I write for the Internet sure won’t.

Perhaps this explains my recent withdrawal from soliciting online markets. Doesn’t seem like I should go to the trouble of trying to write for online markets anymore if everything that I write is going to eventually disappear.

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  • At 12:31 PM , Blogger Julie said...

    I don't even know if it is worth it, either. I can't find half of the things I have written any longer. It's crazy to think that at one time there were hundreds, if not more, samples of my work out there. Now I'm lucky to remember them and when I do, lucky if they're still there.

    Which is why I am moving more toward books. Like you, I want to see the things I've worked on for far longer than the life of a web page.

  • At 10:09 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks for commenting, Julie. It seems like all the work we put into the articles for an online market is not worth much anymore since it won't last. While I'll continue reviewing books for Night Owl Reviews, I am focusing my writing elsewhere -- somewhere that it would last a lot longer.

  • At 3:25 AM , Blogger Angie said...

    I guess I'm not seeing the difference between an article for a web site that your readers or prospective editors can't read anymore, and an article in a magazine or a newspaper that got pulled from the stands and even tossed out of dentists' offices years ago. Sure, it's in your garage, but are people going to come to your house to read it? There are probably copies of the magazines in libraries, but you can find most things from the internet (if you have the URL) in the Way-Back Machine. Sounds like a reason to leave those links there -- at least someone who's really interested will be able to find them if they want to make the effort. Less effort, actually, than driving to a library that has Magazine X and digging through their archives.

    Looking at an article in a magazine that's going to get pulled in a month or a quarter, and an article on a web site that's going to be there for a minimum of several years, I think accessibility is on the side of the web sites, even if we don't think of the various types of archiving.


  • At 9:34 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 9:40 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks for the comment, Angie. I appreciate your thoughts on this and respect your opinion, but I stand by what I said. If I was writing with the purpose of having other people read my work long after it has been published, I would have stopped writing books a long time ago. I am not one of those authors who is selling tons of books, gets millions of dollars in advances for a book, a bestselling author and has a ton of fans. That is not me. So, I won't pay any mind to trying to get people to PLEASE READ MY BOOKS when I can see from the books I have published so far that there's really not much demand for my work. On the other hand, a couple of my recent books ARE selling pretty well, so that's something to think about. The bottom line is, I write for me. I write to get published. Seeing my work published is gratifying, but moreso seeing it STILL published after one or more years has gone by. My articles in those newspapers are going to be there no matter what. I don't care if no one comes around to look at them. My story and articles will be in the magazines that I have no matter what. I can pull them out again 5 years from now and still see them in there. THAT is why I feel that writing for the Internet is no longer a good use of my time and energy. Because everything I get published on the Internet will one day disappear. It'll all be gone. And I seriously DOUBT one single human being would bother to use a site like Way Back Machine to hunt down an article I used to have on the Internet once upon a time. If a link does not take the casual visitor to where he/she is slightly interested in going, then he/she will lose interest and browse elsewhere for other stuff.


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