catching up, part three

I’ve spent all my time today catching up with all the things I’ve wanted to put into my blog over the last few weeks, but haven’t had the time or energy to complete. This is the last bit of the Catching Up Trilogy, soon to be a major motion picture starring Jack Black as the cab driver, Jimmy Kimmel’s Cousin as Wil Wheaton, and a special appearance by William Fucking Shatner, as himself.

"I wrote earlier today about not having time, and feeling like there isn’t enough time for things, and I think the conclusion I’ve reached from this already-too-long post is that we have to give ourselves permission to make time for the things we really want to do. In my case, I need to have full access to my creative brain. Fear is the enemy of creativity, and I have to just stop being afraid of not providing for my family enough, so I can write some creative things that will provide for them."

More Than This

I have to say this, so I can get over it once and for all: Most of my experience with the release of Just A Geek completely sucked. Rather than building on the momentum I created with Dancing Barefoot, I felt like I was right back where I started, when the whole thing was finally over. I felt taken advantage of, mislead, and ultimately just discarded. That book was really my baby, and the damn publisher handled it (and me) so poorly, it was just devastating to me.

When it became apparent to me that the publisher wasn’t going to market it correctly, and when I realized that the company was never interested in doing more with it than just cashing in on my blog and the audience I’d worked so hard to create, I felt like a total chump. I worked harder on Just A Geek, and spent more time and energy on promoting it and making sure it was as good as it could be, and I actually earned less, and sold fewer with a major publisher than I did with Dancing Barefoot, publishing it on my own. In fact, the only real publicity efforts or signings that had any impact on sales were ones I set up myself, or came to me because of my blog. Yeah, that was really worth the huge nightmare of constantly begging them not to promote it as a Sci-Fi book or a Star Trek bio, only to be ignored or dismissed. Never again will I rely upon a publisher to do what they said they would do, and never again will I ignore the instincts I’ve spent a lifetime developing when they warn me that something just isn’t right.

"You have to do another book like Dancing Barefoot," Anne told me last summer, "because we had such a good time with it, and you’re too stubborn and passionate to work for anyone, anyway. Then you’ll feel better about the whole thing."

She was right, of course, and the idea for Do You Want Kids With That? to be another small book very similar to Dancing Barefoot was born.

The entire process of working on that manuscript was very similar to the Barefoot experience: I spent long hours on my Debian machine, cutting and pasting stuff from my blog and editing it in OpenOffice.org, and sending tons of files back and forth with my friend Andrew, who edited almost all of Dancing Barefoot, and the first two drafts of Just A Geek with me.

Our goal was to have it out by November of last year, but in the early weeks of October, I realized that it wasn’t going to work. The problem was easy to identify: though it was a collection of several short stories all relating to my experiences as a stepfather, it was essentially the same story over and over again: I love my stepkids, and I love it so much when I can feel them accept me and I see myself reflected in them. It’s hard to be a stepparent, but it’s totally worth all the extra work. That’s great for about three short stories, and the occasional blog entry, but anything longer than that is just too much, and it gets old. I know how to fix it, but I am just not willing to tear the curtains back on Ryan and Nolan’s lives the same way I’m willing to do it on my own, and without doing that, I can’t write additional stories that will give the final draft the ebb and flow it needs to truly work. I also don’t want to spend a whole lot of time and energy talking about what a jerk Anne’s ex-husband is, and how hard he’s worked (and continues to work) to drive a wedge between the kids and me, which is very important context to understand just how remarkable it is that I have any relationship with them at all, let alone the fantastic, loving, trusting, bonded one we do have.

But I had material that was written and edited, and it seemed foolish to let it go to waste, so I pulled together three of the stories that I liked the most, and Andrew helped me edit them into the chapbook More Than This.

Every step of the way, from the selection of material, to the re-writing and editing, to the layout and printing and release, made me insanely happy. I felt like I was in charge of my life, and helping to support my family by doing something I love, and don’t totally suck at. (Yes, I realize the irony of saying that I don’t suck at writing while ending a sentence in a preposition. With. At. Of.)

(At.)

I felt like I could finally feel good about writing and publishing again, and a lot of the unhappiness and frustration and depression that tainted and then ruined the Just A Geek experience was washed away. It was like Dancing Barefoot all over again, and I couldn’t have been happier:

When I picked up my chapbooks from the printer, I had the same happiness and sense of fulfillment that I had when Dancing Barefoot first arrived at my house almost exactly three years ago.

When I took them to the Grand Slam convention, and people expressed an interest in reading them, I felt the same excitement that I felt when people picked up the first pre-release, I-made-them-at-Kinko’s copies of Dancing Barefoot at the same convention in 2003.

When I created the blog entry about the chapbook, and orders started to come in, I felt the same surprise, excitement, happiness and joy I felt when Dancing Barefoot was first accepting orders. In fact, I saw a lot of names that I recognized from back then, and felt doubly happy that so many of you reading this have continued to come back for so many years. (There are a lot of places you can visit on the Internets, and there’s a lot of media competing for your time and attention; that you choose to spend some of it with me makes me feel very, very happy, and I’ll continue to do my very best to earn your time and honor your support.)

When I filled the orders for the chapbook, and Anne and Ryan helped me put them into envelopes and apply the stamps, I felt the same happiness and excitement that I felt during the summer of Dancing Barefoot‘s first release, when Anne and I sat in our living room with our friends and stuffed envelopes, applied postage and mailing labels, and took them to the post office for shipping.

Man, the summer of 2003 was so much fun: Anne and I took our ultra-awesome  road trip to Tulsa  for the Trek Expo, where Dancing Barefoot sold out, I did signings at Powell’s in Portland and Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and I couldn’t wait to get Just A Geek (which was already in production at the time) finished, so I could build upon all that momentum. It’s the happiest I think I’ve been since we got married, which remains the happiest day of my life (as cliche as that sounds.) Everything was working back then; my writing was clear and interesting (to me, anyway) and everything was coming up Millhouse. I expected the same success and excitement — better, even — with Just A Geek, and when it became painfully clear that it wasn’t coming, and in fact was designed not to come, it made the crash from the Dancing Barefoot high that much more painful (obviously, as I still lingers a little bit today.)

The More Than This experience is like Dancing Barefoot, only smaller and more intimate this time. I really, really like that. I sincerely hope that those of you who ordered copies (the first shipment is arriving, according to e-mail, and the second shipment is going out as soon as I post this and drive to the post office) feel like your time and money is well-spent.

I don’t know what will come next on the literary front. I’ve been working so hard to keep my head above water with my "for hire" work, I haven’t had the time to just take a long walk up the mountain and see what I bring back. I have some fiction ideas, one in particular that is very exciting to me and may get out of the "wouldn’t it be cool if . . ." stage and enter the "I’m working on a story about . . ." stage. I’ve also thought about collecting the best of my blog twice a year, and doing limited print runs like More Than This, with added commentary and a few other things that should make it worth your time. I am also going to take the material that would have been in Do You Want Kids With That? and turn it into an audiobook, unlike anything else that’s out there right now (to the best of my knowledge) and release that in the near future, sort of like Just A Geek: The Audiobook.

I told my friend Shane a couple of days ago, "starting tonight, i vow to spend less time online, less time playing poker, and more time reading books, listening to music, exercising, and enjoying the things in life that are worth enjoying — it’s just not worth it to be tied to the fucking computer all day, every day."

I think that’s good advice for tracking down my inspiration and finding my writing muse again. I can’t expect to hit a single home run if I don’t take batting practice, you know?

Here’s an interesting bonus result from my blogging today: in the process of catching up, I feel like I’ve purged a ton of stuff that’s been clogging me up for a long time, and I was able to sit down at my dining room table, pull out a pen and a piece of paper, and sketch out a WWdN 2.0 layout for my friend Russ to work on. He says it’s awesome, and can have the new design ready really soon. I may just get to leave Exile before Duke Nuke ‘Em Forever ships. Everything happens for a reason . . . maybe I needed to get all this out so I could go home, and pack up for that long walk up the mountain.

44 thoughts on “catching up, part three”

  1. I guess I’m like the comment guy today ;0
    If it makes you feel better I started reading your blog because of Just a Geek. I was probably in the Star Wars section at Barnes and Noble when I picked it up.
    Just because you feel negative about the book doesn’t mean that other people feel the same way or can’t enjoy it regardless.
    On a final note, why haven’t you tried script writing ala Good Will Hunting?
    I think they have script programs that will do all the formatting for you.

  2. Two words: MORE CHAPBOOKS!
    Seriously, the speed at which they sold out should tell you that there are many more of us out there who would like to buy one.
    Mark it as the second edition so the “first edition” purchasers don’t feel like their treasures have been diluted. But please do make more! Obviously, you’ll have fun doing so.

  3. Too bad those of us who also had the amazing experience of having “The Wil Wheaton!” mail you a copy of Dancing Barefoot can’t relive it with the chapbook ’cause we live in CANADA!!!

  4. By the way the last chapbook sold out, offering up chap books periodically will help feed your writing and creative side. Then when you have enough of them out the door, you will find you have enough good stories, both fact and fiction, you can put together a compilation book. You will then have a great book of short stories. I would be glad to put that on my shelf beside Just a geek and dancing barefoot.

  5. Wil, the chapbook is MORE than worth it. Your autograph on it made it even more special.
    Thanks!
    And just so you know, no matter what form your work is published, I’m there. Small books, big books, audio books. Just automatically put me down for at least one copy. :)

  6. Another consideration is to publish this through one of the online vendors as a PDF. Sure I’d like to own a real autographed copy, but if those are now gone forever, I’d like to pay a couple bucks just to read it and see the pretty pictures.

  7. Hey Wil,
    Just wanted to let you know that one of the two copies I bought is going straight to my own stepson, a fourteen-year-old-Firefly-watching-Monty-Python-quoting -comic-reading-D&D-rulebook-memorizing-yet-he-has-a-cute-girlfriend dork who likely would have taken a different path had he managed to avoid me. Your writing really hits home with me because I know exactly what it is like to be the “other dad, who we call by his first name”, and I think that you write about that situation, it’s challenges and it’s rewards, beautifully. I am totally looking forward to “Do You Want Kids With That?”.

  8. Wil, No… please. I have been “out of touch” for a while & didn’t know about your book. Please publish more,I have the other two and need a complete set. ( please)

  9. I know exactly what you mean, about writing, and the “wouldn’t it be cool if” and the “I’m working on” stages.
    As a journalist/journalism student, I constantly have “for hire” or assignment work. But I have just moved from the “It would be cool” to the “I’m working on” stage. I’m writing a novel, with a main character that has similar interests to mine ;)
    I’ve actually printed out character worksheets and a plot planner. And I’m really impressed with myself :)
    I look forward to all of your work, and yes, chapbooks would be amazing! Especially if you ship them to Canada :D

  10. Wil,
    Once again, I think you wrote the next book. It is good and fun. So, my comment is done and now you can continue your work.
    FG

  11. You know Wil, you’re right.
    There comes a time when we all need to step back from the desk and look out the window.
    There’s a whole freakin’ world out there, and it’s high time I started enjoying a little more of it myself.
    I’ve been working on microsoft server stuff for a while know, getting certs and that kind of thing, and that combined with being a single dad, I haven’t even picked up my guitar in ages.
    Sometimes, we all just need a little kick in the ass, and I think I just got it.
    Thanks man :)

  12. Oh, that reminds me, mom let me know the book is there waiting for me. :)
    I think I can relate when it comes to writing. It’s one of those talents that I have, but don’t use much. I only waste it on documentation for software projects and serious essays at university. But I’m also the one known for my writing.
    I’ve been wanting to try creative writing for ages. I have a few rough sketch ideas, but I’m so afraid to do it. Why? Because I was raised that if you do something, you should always be successful.
    Now how much fiction writing never sees the light of the laser printer, much less publishing. The thought that I could write and write and no one ever see it scares me. The thought that people might just see it scares me more. ;)
    But it’s one of those things I have to get over if I’m going to actually give it a try. At least my husband is very supportive either way. :)

  13. Wil!…
    Please leave Shatner out of this one…
    He kinda bugs me sometimes and that scene where he yells at the top of his lungs *Khan!!*, I just get the feeling he is very constipated and they had no Exlax on the set…

  14. I say we fire-up good ol’ MP and dust off the cobwebs, ya know?
    I remember that summer of ought-three like it was… well, like it was what it was (I was broke, my wife was pregnant and the future looked bleak, but we had some fun!).
    Chapbooks, baby. More and more chapbooks.
    And road trips. To Chicago.
    That’s it.

  15. Hi Wil,
    I am a writer with dozens of articles all over the internet on Career and Job Search Success.
    Your book concept on “Do You Want Kids With That?” was great. But I understand your frustration. More specifically it was all about you….therefore very limiting, difficult to come up with a breadth of material, and not very marketable on a really broad best seller list scale.
    Here is an idea for you. Change the title to “Do You Want Step Kids With That?” Now do a collection of very short stories submitted from readers across the nation from step parents and step kids. Probably about 100 to 200 stories.
    Step people are desperate for an outlet to tell their stories. This book would be awesome for that. Some stories would be humorous and some tragic…but the stories need to be told. The concept is similar to what made the “Chicken Soup” books best sellers. People want an outlet to tell their stories. They are begging for it.
    You could begin by drawing step stories from your blog readers. Also stories from poker celebs who are step kids or step parents. Then include stories from actors and actresses. With your contacts into the industry, you could probably get several. It would be an awesome draw for readers. Then put a “call for step stories” out on the internet. Guaranteed you will be overwhelmed.
    You will have the extraordinary fun of collecting, reading, re-writing, editing and then publishing. Awesome
    Ever step parent and step kid in the nation will buy the book. No offense, but stories about yourself are just too limiting…they are good reads….but not very marketable to very large audiences.
    Guaranteed this book of stories from step kids and parents will be a best seller. I haven’t done the research to know if it has been done already, but with your name and then stories from celebs as well as every day step kids/parents will be a winner….and plenty of room for another book even if someone has done something similar.
    Go for it Wil

  16. Awesome post: “eurekas” always make for a good read. Here’s hoping you carry forth the momentum.
    As for ending sentences with prepositions: I once had a rhetoric professor (a misogynistic, gynophobic SOB who happened to be the best grammar instructor I’ve ever had) who told us that you can break any rule of grammar as long as you made it work. In the context of your blog, it works. It’s kind of like the secret of being a Cool Kid (a secret I didn’t figure out until I was 40): as long as you *act* as if what you are doing is cool, it *is*. It’s all about attitude.
    You go for it, Wil. :-)

  17. Take a deep breath….. Then let it out slowly. AHHHhhHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  18. Don’t worry about ending a sentence with a preposition. I have a stack of English language reference books that all say that rule is a myth. Here’s a little blurb about it on Wikipedia.

  19. I agree what you said about doing another book like “Barefoot.” That was the REAL Wil Wheaton.
    As for the promo of “Geek,” I don’t know who set up Borders in Hollywood but that signing worked extremely well. You were so on for that event and it showed when you read passages from your book. The signing also seemed to work out really well too. If you planned that one, it just goes to show that YOU need to plan these evenbts from now on.
    Scott
    :)

  20. Congrats on selling out the chapbook (too bad we missed, it, I’m sure Chris would have liked one), Wil, and even more so on getting the writing cobwebs that have been bedeviling you cleared out.
    Just remember that the moment sticking stamps on envelopes ceases to be therapeutic, it’s time to stop it and find another way.
    “Do You Want Kids with that?” is a GREAT title by the way, so I hope you can figure out some way to make it work, even if it’s not the book you orignally had in mind.
    Anyway, I’d still like to see you tackle that novel one of these days.
    Are you coming to Shane’s barbecue and game-night? Chris and I are planning to take the Love Bug out for its first major road-trip and head down from Oregon for a visit, so possibly we’ll see you there.

  21. Hi Wil-inater!
    Just finished “Just a Geek” and loved it. I felt like you told me the stories, versus having read them.
    At any rate, what’s up with the chap books? Anymore,(with a signature) coming out? Got $25 that needs a good home…….

  22. Just wanted to say even in blogs its rare to see this kind of honesty. Reading this post felt I was there for the ups and downs. Thanks for the inspiration , every weekend I force myself to take a really long hike in the country and shake of that desk ache…the pictures I take alternate on my desktop keep me going the rest of the week. This weekend will try to include a hill ( if not a mountain) .

  23. OK-everyone wants to make Wil feel great, and Lord knows I’ve enjoyed (greatly) reading this blog for a couple of years or more. But really-this entry just totally sucks (not only for its evident desire to substitute a proof that “I can fit in more irrelevent links than serious thoughts anytime I want to!!” ).
    So let’s summarize the story you’re telling here. You felt your book wasn’t handled properly(and you figure you’re the first author to ever have that happen to). But now, you’ve gotten the idea (and a great one it is!) from feedback on your site that people really like the stories of how you and your stepsons are learning to reach out to each other, share each other’s interests, form a serious family relationship. This is exhibited by a series of (quite wonderful and charming) andecdotes, with which every step-parent can identify, and which are bound to fascinate every other person who cares about human relationships.
    And how are you going to be widely read and appreciated? I know-assemble a chapbook, limit the edition to about 250 copies, refuse to allow anyone outside of the USA to obtain one, and then talk vaguely about how some of it might be available in some sort of format called an ‘audiobook’. Which I guess is listening to you read it, which is a good idea for people who want that. But for people who want to hold an actual and real book, be able to read it at their pace, be able to easily look back a couple of pages to remind themselves of a previous passage, to peruse it at places other than our computer (I guess we should all have laptops to read on the bus or subway), well we’re just SOOL.
    And the funny thing is, you talk at great length (very great length, almost stultifying length-I hope Andrew didn’t edit this) about how much fun you and your family had with Dancing Barefoot, the taking orders, packaging them, knowing that your words were going out to people who really wanted to read your writing, and then you conclude, what? We’ll keep this new experience to the very tight and select circle of the first 250 who catch your blog (and even then no foreigners-cause it would be too difficult to figure out different postage).
    Sorry Wil-I’ve richly enjoyed your boog, and especially the stories of you and Ryan and Nolan, but this whole idea of keeping the writings away from your fans just pretty much sucks.

  24. I’ve enjoyed your last two or three entries Wil but I have to agree with the spirit of the previous poster if not the tone. Just a Geek is a very good book… really, who cares which shelf it was on, or that it had the word ‘Enterprise’ on the cover? It was purchased and enjoyed by a lot of people; simply getting it on the shelf is an achievement in itself, something that a lot of authors have failed at and that you should be rightly proud of. Don’t dismiss that success and try – as you seem to be doing – to erase the whole experience from your life.
    (IANAPsychologist.)
    I must also agree with the insanity of your current ‘limited print run’ approach – it’s extremely frustrating to johnny foreigners like me. Surely there are POD services you can use?
    Finally, remember that for every negative comment I’ve posted (1), I *haven’t* posted about 100 positive ones. :)

  25. I agree what you said about doing another book like “Barefoot.” That was the REAL Wil Wheaton.
    As for the promo of “Geek,” I don’t know who set up Borders in Hollywood but that signing worked extremely well. You were so on for that event and it showed when you read passages from your book. The signing also seemed to work out really well too. If you planned that one, it just goes to show that YOU need to plan these evenbts from now on.
    Scott
    :)

  26. I agree what you said about doing another book like “Barefoot.” That was the REAL Wil Wheaton.
    As for the promo of “Geek,” I don’t know who set up Borders in Hollywood but that signing worked extremely well. You were so on for that event and it showed when you read passages from your book. The signing also seemed to work out really well too. If you planned that one, it just goes to show that YOU need to plan these evenbts from now on.
    Scott
    :)

  27. I agree what you said about doing another book like “Barefoot.” That was the REAL Wil Wheaton.
    As for the promo of “Geek,” I don’t know who set up Borders in Hollywood but that signing worked extremely well. You were so on for that event and it showed when you read passages from your book. The signing also seemed to work out really well too. If you planned that one, it just goes to show that YOU need to plan these evenbts from now on.
    Scott
    :)

  28. Dear Will…
    This post is a little misplaced. I wrote it in response to your podcast of March something, but I couldn’t get Odeo to accept my comment…sorry to post it inappropriately here. That may be some kind of big no no – like typing in ALL CAPS…at any rate…
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Your struggle is a familiar one.
    A good place to start for me: You discuss your future blogging plans and ask for some reader responses – what do your readers find interesting and not interesting about your blog?
    I just wanted to respond to that with one question: What do you find interesting? Just right now. Right now, what’s interesting to you? That is the only place you can go. If I said, I really find it interesting when you talk about comics, you could then try to talk about comics. But maybe at that moment, comics aren’t really occupying a top space in your crucible. What would ensue? A perhaps enjoyable commentary, which would yet be a little uninspired, because maybe being asked to talk about comics creates a different sort of “piece” than just writing about them when they are most interesting to you.
    From listening to this podcast, which is interesting and is enjoyable, and is difficult to listen to sometimes because you are so hard on yourself – I sense that you’re struggling to discover what is interesting to you. This isn’t a small problem and is really just a symptom of your depression. I don’t know if this was a one day for you or not – but the way you talk, it seems a familiar state.
    Depression is, in my own experience, a simple disconnect between the inner world and that thing that processes the inner world, whatever it may be. This is why words like numbness are often associated with depression. It’s like the body is calling out “pain” and the thing meant to deliver the message is just too exhausted to do so. If you are clinically depressed, the way out can be very difficult and I don’t know much about that side of it. If you are “personally” depressed, you can look inside, kindly and gently, to discover what is causing the disconnect.
    Now – you name a few things that you feel might be responsible. Your writing, so you say, has fallen off a bit in terms of “interestingness”. You have become domesticated. A married man with kids who has to pay the bills. You have not been doing the sorts of things that are expansive to your being. Your creative side is stifled by a lack of worldly sparklingness.
    These are all good places to start. BUT (and for real this time!) these are the whipping posts of the mind. When you say to yourself, “I am not happy and it is because of X”, you need to continue to examine X. As philosophers and spiritual teachers might help show you, X is never the problem. To use an odd worldly analogy – we are at war with Iraq. But is Iraq really the problem? (This is not to say that Al-Quaeda or bin Laden is either…the problem is here and that’s not to say that we suck or that we need to do Y in order to get out of this jam – the jam is permanent, it just takes different forms and has varying degrees of intensity).
    Climbing a mountain, even being more “dangerous” creatively will not relieve your burden. It may temporarily lift the dark cloud, or make your burden feel easier to bear, but behind that – and I think you know this – that same gusty force is preparing to return. Sorry about the mixed metaphors…
    You are very bright, that’s clear. You also write very well (I’ve read your blog and it is interesting). You are very, very hard on yourself, which is not uncommon among artists. You don’t have to worry about being brighter, more dangerous…or anything like that. There’s no such thing s being more interesting. There’s no effort that creates that outcome. Giving up that effort, however, will, strangely enough lead you in that direction.
    If you’ve ever seen a really comedian or actorI think you’ll know what I mean. There is no effort there. There is just freedom. I’m sure you’ve felt this with writing – it’s probably why writing is important to you.
    How do you give up the effort, though? You have to go into yourself in a very simple and powerful way. To do this, you almost have to view yourself as a stranger. You have to say “Look. I’ve found this injured person by the side of the road. Look, he’s hurt. I will take care of him.” That’s a beginning of a sort. And you might not find what you think you’re looking for – you might discover that this is the way to a better blog. But it will be a way toward a fuller life. It may be that writing is more central to you than you know – but it may be that it is not. It doesn’t matter. What you do is simply not very important.
    The problem is not the problem. The problem is that there is a problem in the first place. Find out why that is. It is a very difficult thing to do – but very easy too in a paradoxical way. It is also very hard, I would assume, doing it in the context of the sort of work you do and having the history you have.
    I can talk more about this if you like. But you may not like. This interests me and is topmost, or near that, in my mind and soul.
    warm regards,
    sean

  29. I want to read a collection of poker stories! I know you put a lot of them on card squad but none of those are at all like lying in odessa.
    crusher them, dude :)

  30. LESS Poker? I thought you’d already backed off to the WWDN tourneys and the occasional voyage into affordable games.
    And with the WSOP coming up in a couple months, I figured you’d want to play MORE to get into the groove.
    I echo the “too bad I can’t get your book because I live on Canada” sentiment from earlier. It’s not like we’re asking for airmail here. I mean, the sled dogs get the mail to my igloo twice a month, assuming they aren’t eaten by polar bears (or wampas).

  31. Dude, don’t let The Man get (or put) you down. If publishing with O’Reilly was painful then put them on the list of “fsck them, never use them again” and go on with things. Don’t consider their problems failure on your part or some sort of problem with you. We all make mistakes and the smart among us (which you’re part) try our best not to make the same ones again.
    The idea of fleshing out the -kids with that- book idea with stories from other folks sounds very interesting (I’d buy one, but then I’d buy your next book whatever it was). You’re inside circles (actors, west coast gamers, high speed poker players, comedians, etc.) that many of your fellow geeks can’t get into, give us a peak.
    The foreigners bagging on you was disappointing but I suppose I can see where they’re coming from (at least from the “I can’t get your books” perspective, to heck with “Geoff” and his puke). Perhaps the pdf idea would get some of them your work another way. But (again) don’t let criticism depress you, just say “fsck them”. We can’t please everyone and when we try we often fail to please ourselves (or those we love, both of which are *much* more important).
    Good luck, we’re with you for the long haul dude, prepositions not withstanding.

  32. More unsolicited advice: no matter how tempting and easy it is to say negative things about the childrens’ other parent, it isn’t really in their best interests to read it or hear it coming from you.

  33. I would speculate that many recording artists venture out on their own, like Puff Duddy and Jay ZZzzzz, because they’ve been screwed in the past by the big record companies.
    Visualize the scene in the first Matrix, where Neo is initially awakened and flushed from the pod.
    Imagine the budding artist (or writer) as Neo, essentially a small AA battery for the corporation, which quickly discards it after it’s creative power has been sucked dry.
    You’ve just disconnected yourself from it, now enjoy the dirty, gritty living quarters that embody creative freedom.
    CHEERS!

  34. Wil,
    This is sort of sad. I went and found my typekey password just because of the preposition thing.
    The preposition at the end of the sentence rule is one of my pet peeves. No matter what your grade school grammar teacher told you, the no prepositions at the end of the sentence “rule” is complete and utter bull crap. It is an artificial rule introduced by some pedantic little pricks who wanted to Latinize the language. It doesn’t work with English structure, and the only reason that it has survived to this day is grammar teachers who are both ignorant of the history of their subject and pedantic. Please continue using appropriate prepositions at the end of your sentences. It is infinitely preferable to the convoluted work-arounds that a blind adherence to this rule requires. (In Latin it makes sense, because of the way that the words all tie together. You really can’t put the preposition at the end of a sentence and have it make sense. In English, you sometimes have sentences that don’t make sense without the preposition at the end.)
    As always,
    Michael “Ask me about my singular ‘they.’” Phillips

  35. Wil-
    Good to hear that you have done the “mental housekeeping” that is so necessary for all creative types. When you feel down, it’s difficult to remember that most of us out here are slightly jealous (in a good way) of all your success in life. You are the success story we all wish we could call our own!
    Most of the people who read your site will probably never comment – I probably wouldn’t myself, but I felt like taking a moment on behalf of the silent majority to say, “good job.” I’m sure most of us enjoy following the “Famous Wil” but even more, we truly enjoy reading about the real you, who writes about the things we can relate to in our own lives – family, friends, and the regular struggle to make ends meet. Even if you (hopefully) don’t have to struggle too much. Write whatever you feel like writing; I find that if you keep an eye towards writing whatever you think will sell, you’ll soon be frustrated when the words stop flowing. Just enjoy the process!
    I truly enjoyed the chapbook – the Grand Slam was my own personal, “step away from the desk and do something fun with the wife and kids” journey. My kids got to see Dad in his geek element, talking about the good old days of conventions, Trek and my acting/writing/movie making aspirations. My wife got to see her husband as he was in his fanboy prime, and I got to meet and greet other fans, astronauts and actors. Most importantly, I got to meet a celebrity who has managed to turn his success on screen not into scandal, but into a respectable writing career- You! I look forward to your next writing effort, whatever that may be.
    And now I return to silently lurking about your site.
    ~Daniel

  36. Hey, if everyone ELSE gets to offer advice and ideas, why not me?
    I know you’ve tried to separate your poker writings from this blog, because a good chunk of your regulars aren’t so interested. But from what I’ve seen and heard, you’re one of the most successful and skilled “celebrity” poker players out there. Why not try and gather together a few other known celeb players and put together a book? Your baby, but with contributions from James Woods, Jennifer Tilley, Jason Alexander, A-Rod, etc… Have Dave Foley do the foreward, and Phil Gordon analyze the plays (sure, he doesn’t want to watch bad players anymore, but I’m not suggesting Sean Astin here ;) ).
    There, my idea’s been committed to 1’s and 0’s. My work here is done.

  37. Heh. Brings back memories. Used to have a big get together in the summer growing up. All the “old folks” would be out back drinking PBR and the kids would be holed up playing Illuminati & Nuclear War (thank you Flying Buffalo!). Then, after hot dogs and Sunkist, and messing with the ant lions (they always looked like Ceti eels to me…oh well), we would crack open the Fiend Folio, and afterwards design cars for the “Unlimited” divisions with the latest Uncle Al’s. Ahhh, those were the days.

  38. Wil –
    I just received my mail and I got the chapbook. I dropped everything and read it from cover to cover. Although I am not a step-parent, my husband is to my daughter and has been for 15 years (she is turning 22 on Saturday). I wish that these kinds of books had been available way back when. When people put down their experiences, it definately helps others.
    Thank you for writing and I hope that you continue to do so for a long time to come.
    Evie

  39. My role model for how to be a successful artist is Ani DiFranco (who is also from my home town of Buffalo). She wanted to make her own music, so she created the label to distribute and promote her music. She is in control of her creation — through each step of its life. That’s how I want to work as well.

  40. If I remember correctly, at the end of summer 2003 you posted some apologies about how you weren’t happy with your blog and had been neglecting it because of book promotion. I sort of got the impression that your weren’t feeling on the top of your game creatively. Did I get the wrong impression or are memories being edited?

  41. Wil.. PLEASE MAKE MORE>
    Some of us , like me, were unable to be around when you announced your chap books were going on sale, I was in the hospital. Please make more soon!
    The rest of your blog readers want your books!
    I stil plan to buy Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek soon. So much has been going on in my life. I have an MRI monday to see if my back can be fixed with surgery, or if it is degenerative – which in that case there is nothing they can do and I will never be able to walk again with out crutches and a wheelchair. PLEASE MAKE MORE CHAPBOOKS. PLEASE :)
    I’ll hush now.

  42. Why is it that when people see someone offering an opinion that seems to disagree with them, they think people are somehow “bagging” on Wil. I am not “bagging” (whatever that means), I’m expressing my hurt feelings. I have Just A Geek and Dancing Barefoot on my shelf. I have always done everything I can to support Wil, buying t-shirts, putting a request for a city visit up, etc. Therefore, it is extremely frustrating that I could not purchase the last book and never will be able to. I realize that Wil has his reasons, I just want him to know that there are people north of the border who **like** to support him and his various careers and maybe he could rethink the whole not available in Canada thing.
    Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion.

  43. About the preposition, in response to other posts:
    In Latin, there is no rigid word order in a sentence. Because you decline and conjugate everything under the sun, you can put words anywhere in the sentence you’d like – there is no order because the conjugations and declinations tell you what part of speech the word is. In Latin, nouns come in three genders with six cases, each of which has a singular and plural form. You ALWAYS decline a noun in a sentence. And there are other cases the higher in Latin you go, like the locative case. And there are so many types of verbs and their tenses are endless. Also, according to my Latin teacher, in old school Latin there wasn’t much in the way of punctuation. So though word order and punctuation was lawless, the words in themselves were really harnessed.
    But English is a Germanic language, not a Romance one derived from Latin. In the German language, some verbs have what are called separable prefixes, and the “prefix” is a preposition. When you conjugate the separable prefix verb in a sentence, the preposition part of the verb goes at the end, always. The actual German language is different than the more vague term “Germanic,” which refers more to a branch of language, but I’m sure prepositions have always been a pain in the ass even in the very beginning of language and we might as well blame the Krauts. (I kid, I kid! – I’m mostly German.)
    Then when the Normans of France invaded England, they also invaded the then-form of the English language. French likes to keep its relative pronouns close to prepositions when it comes to relative clauses, which results in the sentence never ending in a preposition. Unlike English, this sounds perfectly normal in conversational French. And since the Normans were the rulers and the Anglo-Saxons the ruled, the guttural, Germanic language that the Anglos spoke became the dirty, uncouth language of the savages and French became the proper, more refined way to speak among the higher classes. So maybe this is why ending sentences with prepositions seems so improper?
    I’ve studied Latin, French, and German and here’s what I’ve come to know: there’s a reason why no one speaks Latin (it’s impossible!) and the English language is much more similar to French both in terms of sentence structures, pronunciation, and etymology than German, despite the English language’s Germanic roots. I think, though, that the one thing the English language did take from its Germanic base is the inclination to put the preposition at the end of the sentence.
    Also, NEVER EVER use Wikipedia as a source of legit fact. I did some writing for National Geographic when I was younger and stupider and their Standards and Practices department beat the shit out of me for naively using Wikipedia as a source. My writing came back with many, many red marks chastising me about the wrong dates and historical inaccuracies I took from Wikipedia. Stick with Encyclopaedia Britannica even though it’s not free. Don’t trust things written by normal people. Except Wil. Who of course is exceptional.

  44. It was cool to read your summarizing and coming to realizations and everything in this entry.
    But I’m actually commenting here to ask a question: hypothetically, if I were going to buy Dancing Barefoot in the near future because I don’t own it yet, what would be the method of purchasing that gives you as the author the most profit? If I buy it used, you’ve probably gotten whatever proceeds possible from that copy, right? But how does it affect the numbers if I buy it from Amazon as opposed to a brick and mortar store? I’m not asking for an econ lesson, but I believe in authors getting their hard-earned income as much as possible.

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