Heather Armstrong (of Dooce fame) writes about writing publicly, and makes an astute observation:
One of the drawbacks of maintaining a public website as anyone who has done this will tell you is that the longer you keep writing online the more people you are likely to piss off. At the same time you are also likely to touch more people’s lives and make more connections, more friends, and that is definitely the most rewarding thing about it all, but it’s that increasing amount of people who scorn you that teach you the most about yourself. How thick is your skin? How much can you take? How do you find a way to continue writing in a way that isn’t affected by what those certain people have to say?
Seeing as my readership is, what, one-twentieth of Heather’s, my foul-minded correspondence is pretty spare. And, of course, she’s way more personal on her site, writing exclusively about her own life. Everybody’s got a life, so everybody’s got an opinion of hers. Not everybody has an opinion about the Canucks or Samuel Beckett, so I get much less hate mail. Plus, of course, I’ve got a pretty thick skin, and this site is far (far!) more intellectual than emotional. As such, the result is mostly heated debate, as opposed to hateful email.