But the success of their migration depends on whether—or not—the social Internet can function like a writing workshop.
By Adrienne Westenfeld, Mar 9, 2022
When George Saunders went out to his writing shed to start a Substack newsletter last fall, for the first time in a long time, the Booker Prize-winning novelist, famous for such works as Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December, didn’t know what he was doing.
“I’ll just write 80 posts and then take a vacation,” he thought to himself.
But upon hitting publish, something surprised him: the comments section exploded, with thousands of readers chiming in on his inaugural post (that still-growing comment count currently sits at 3091).
Everywhere from Scotland to India to Australia, devoted followers and aspiring writers wrote in with passionate messages, eager to connect with one of their literary heroes.
Suddenly “don’t read the comments,” that old digital age chestnut, felt like the worst advice in the world. There was nowhere else Saunders would rather be than here, chopping it up with commenters young and old, near and far, longtime fans and first-time callers.