Does the Internet Have a Front Page

Beach by davidjmarland on FlickrI’ve heard writing for the internet described as, “Scratching in sand that is constantly being wiped clean by waves.”

Which is to say that “fresh” content is always the rage on the internet and you rarely, if ever, see an old article or post go viral.

Okay. Fine. I not only understand that but I enjoy it. The immediacy of the internet allows for topical posts, popular song parodies, and humorists to riff with one another from all over the world until the funniest of the funniest shit finally makes it onto my Twitter feed.

But is that all the internet provides? I mean every single “How To Blog” post emphasizes fresh content, new comments, daily discussions. Which, again, I understand.

But that’s not what I do.

I write novels. And novels aren’t a daily sort of thing. They aren’t even a weekly sort of thing. They are, if I were to start plopping out garbage without care, maybe a yearly sort of thing. And I hate plopping out garbage.

And, yes, there are short stories. But short stories aren’t  immediate sort of fare.  They’re stories. They’re meant to be discovered in time. They can sit and wait on the shelf until the reader is ready for them. It’s great if you can drop a story into a waiting audience and generate some buzz. That happens. I’m not saying that stories have zero ability for immediacy or viral-ness…but for an author building an audience from scratch that doesn’t happen. And yet I have tons of short stories up online. Good ones. Really good ones actually, some of my favorite work. But they were released, so to speak, when I had a bare minimum of readers.

And they’ve sat there, in my archives, for years now.

Does that make them no longer viable as internet material? Does that make them not worthy of being read online?

I have no idea, but my gut says no. Absolutely no.

Febuary 24, 2012 The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by guidedbycthulhu from FlickrIn fact my gut says that if the internet is going to be a place where fiction writers can thrive, then the archives of fiction writers have to be redefined. For a vast number of the sites online, the archives are dusty places that you only visit to settle bar debates.

But for those of us writing fiction that just can’t be true. The demand for content the internet generates can’t be met by writers of fiction. Seriously. Maybe a few writers can churn it out like that, but I have to imagine that many authors have looked into the ever digesting maw of the internet and said, “Woah! To hell with that. I can’t possibly write enough stories to keep my site fresh.”

To put things in perspective, I currently have more short stories up online than J.D. Salinger had published in his entire career. Sort of. Depends on how you define “published.” But whatever, my point is that the numbers are comparable.

Obviously the quality of these stories is objective. Yet, when it’s phrased like that, I find myself questioning the very basic idea behind this website.

Is it possible for those seeking fiction to embrace a writer’s archives?

Or is the internet just not the place for authors of fiction?