Well, I knew there had to be a downside to the online publishing that has been my mainstay as I attempted to reignite a creative writing career. And here it is: online journals, being relatively cheap and easy to open, are also apt to close.
I discovered this while trying to track down an old story of mine, "Snooping," which was published in the inaugural issue of the sci-fi zine The Squirrel Cage. Turns out the zine no longer exists. It lasted about a year.
This made me wonder how many of the stories and essays I've published online have now vanished from the web. From what I can tell, 5 of them (out of 17) either have vanished or are likely to soon. Roughly a third, in other words. Here's the litany:
1. My first publication, "Keynote," which appeared in Third Reader. It was archived for a while after the zine's closing, but has since disappeared.
2. My first sci-fi publication, the aforementioned "Snooping." Inaccessible so far as I can tell.
3. My story "Review," which appeared in Writers' Bloc. Archived until next year at least; after that, who knows?
4. My story "String," which appeared in Word Catalyst. Still available for the time being.
5. My story "Princess," which appeared in Dark and Dreary Magazine. Nowhere to be found.
This is compared to 7 print publications during the same period, all of them still going strong.
So, what can I say? There's no such thing as a free lunch, life's tough all over, you can't always get what you want, etc. Print journals aren't foolproof either, of course; they go belly-up too. But my experience suggests that--for the moment at least--they're relatively more stable than the online journals.
So I think I'm going to stick with my decision to focus on print publication for the future. But I'll always be grateful to the online medium for giving me a chance and a start.