From the Vault: there is more than one thing that makes us who we are

I'm bringing a limited-edition chapbook of gaming stories to GenCon, so Andrew and I have been digging through old entries and columns to put it together. This weekend he found and sent me the following old post, with the note: "Nothing to do with gaming, but it's REALLY short and I think we could both use the reminder from time to time"

He's right. I think we can all use the reminder from time to time.

(Imagine the sound of The Vault opening)

It drove me crazy, during the marketing and promotion of Just A Geek,
that I couldn't convince the publicity department to stop it with the
"It's a Star Trek Bio! Sci-Fi! Sci-Fi!" message and tell readers what I
wanted them to get out of the book.

The thing is, a lot of readers who expected that sort of book were
pissed because it wasn't what they got, (a few of them were pleasantly
surprised, but the ones who wanted a gossipy Star Trek tell-all let me know what
an asshole I was for misleading them and wasting their time) but readers who were at least marginally
familiar with my blog, who were looking for something different, grokked
a different fundamental story in the text. A few days ago, WWdN reader
Stephanie wrote me the following, which I reprint with her permision:

I took from your book is that you shouldn't let one thing you do in
your life define you – because we do several different things in our
lives and there is more than one thing that makes us who we are.

a really big part of my story. I'm really glad you grokked it,
Stephanie, and I hope it inspired you and others to follow your dreams,
whatever they may be.

(Imagine the sound of The Vault closing)

25 thoughts on “From the Vault: there is more than one thing that makes us who we are”

  1. Amen to that!
    FWIW – I would have been incredibly bored with a tell-all Star Trek book. I’m much more interested in the wonderfully personal and insirping stories you do tell than in what Jonathan Frakes eats for breakfast.

  2. Hear, hear. Author Jeff VanderMeer put it this way: “Everyone you know if more than one thing.” I am a big believer in this thought. Accepting and embracing people’s complexities is good for all of us, I think.

  3. Agreed.
    That said, your case to be treated as more than just another piece of the Sci-Fi world would be stronger if you didn’t use the word “grok” twice in the post lamenting such pigeonholing. :)

  4. Ugh! I wish I was going to Gen Con. I have only been to three of them, all back in the 90’s. Life is conspiring to keep me away from the new venue (is Indy still considered a new venue?)
    I’ll have to satiate myself with teaching my 13 year old nephew D&D. We have had one session so far and I think I have him hooked.
    My own son is only four and despite my protestations to the contrary, my wife refuses to let me teach him D&D yet. I guess he should be able to read first. Well, don’t worry. Although I am not teaching him the game yet, I have been installing the wiring since birth, so when the time comes all I will have to do is throw the switch.
    Game On!

  5. Nice post.
    I got the funniest school yard name call at work today it went something like this.
    For the ease of the text M will = me, W will = Wierdo.
    W – “What are you listening to”
    M – “Just A Geek, it is an audio book by Wil Wheaton”
    W – “IS that the guy you love on twitter”
    (I work in IT, fellow geeks around me pause to consider the wierdo, its like a geek trainwreck).
    W – “Yeah you are always retweeting his stuff it is annoying”
    M – “Okay So why are you following me still and why do you care”
    W – “You love him dont you, who is he anyway”
    M – “No I respect his work and like the writing style, Havent you ever seen Stand By Me, Gone to a convention or used the internet at all – You do know Sci-Fi and games right”
    W – “I never heard of that film no”
    At this point it was awesome as people chirped in with comments like, “You never heard of Stand By ME it is the classic coming of age film” and “have you even watched Star Wars”
    (turns out he had not and the reason was at 24 he was too young to have seen the original trilogy)
    I weep for the future, The questions at this point from everyone came thick and fast.
    Do you read ?
    Have you seen apocalypse now ?
    Do you like computers ?
    The end result was the best office tantrum and storm out I think I ever saw.
    The last word from the guy who sat next to me as I turned the Iphone Back on and what prompted this share.
    “Dont worry Andy, some people just dont Grok anything”.
    I hope that brought a smirk to your face Wil.

  6. The last time I tried to define myself by more than one thing, I cheated the wrong way. I wrote the Lisa name and gave the Ralph answers!
    So until I can master Wheatonesque multi-qualities in the mode of success, I think I’m better off letting people who don’t know about me or care anything about my work to define me.
    Thanks for cracking the vault, Crypt Keeper. That’s a good one.

  7. Hekate, that’s fantastic. 😀
    In my office, I’m usually the one designated weirdo because I’m into all of the geeky things. But I think after five years I’ve finally started to rub off on some of them. (My coworker was so proud to announce that her son really loves Star Wars.)
    I will still answer anyone who comes to me and says, “I have a question…” with 42.

  8. @Hekate180 Wow, you guys are classic geek jerks. Assuming you’re reporting the conversation verbatim, he’s apparently asking for more information about your interests, and you completely shut him down. I weep for a future in which anyone who tries to talk about anything cool is mocked by the people who are already in on it. Oh well, at least he has Wikipedia. Tell me he knows about Wikipedia.

  9. Josh,
    I appreciate what your saying from one angle however as I stated it was done by him in a very school yard way.
    Also the “W – IS that the guy you love on twitter”
    Cleary is not said in the manner of someone of genuine interest.
    I can see from how you have read it how we might appear as jerks, however thats why I added the schoolyard Identifier to indicate tone.

  10. Yeah I just went back and re-read it (paranoia kicks in) and its pretty clear he isnt a seeker of knowledge here.
    Our office is a pretty cool place to work and we all rib on each other all day its all in good fun.

  11. I loved that book because it is a real story about this guy I know and found many things we have in common. Life is about living and doing many things along the way so that there will be stories to tell and pass along.

  12. A couple days ago I was writing a list (I like lists – they make me happy) of the subjects about which I have shown a real interest and desire for learning more. I have purchased many books on these subjects, most which have still gone unread due to lack of time or rapid changing of interest or both. As I wrote my list, I noted that my interests ranged very wide from the lives of scientists or artists (or both, in DaVinci’s case), mythologies of many different cultures, and histories of many different regions or time periods.
    My hobbies mostly tend to the creative but span many different genres and it’s hard to tell from day to day which will hold my interest the most.
    I like the term “Renaissance man” because it reminds us of a time when it was normal for a person to hold many different interests and have many different abilities, whereas today it makes you seem less stable, not more.
    Phooey to that! I thrive on knowing as much as I can about everything and being able to do as many things as I possibly can with the time I am given. I love to hear that there are other people out in the world who are defined by many things, not just one.

  13. When I bought copies of Just A Geek for some of my in-laws, they all gave me the same scared, “But I’m not a geek. Is this about Star Trek? I won’t understand the geekiness!” look.
    “Relax,” I told them. “JAG is kind of about Star Trek, but not really. It’s not explicitly an autobiography, and while it is cathartic for us geeks, you don’t *have* to be a geek to enjoy it. It’s about a journey of the self. You’ll like it. Trust me.”
    They liked it.
    P.S. When you’ve sold out the chapbooks, can you tell us the posts and articles you used for it? For those of us playing along at home? (What? I do *not* make my own homemade chapbooks! I did not at one point copy and format the TVSquad articles that would eventually become Memories of the Future into a rough, personal chapbook in an Open Office document! Why would you ask that, anonymous person on the internet that I’m talking to?)

  14. Marketing hype really distorts this sort of thing, I think it’s a great idea to show people range and variation about who a person is. I find people to be extremely inflexible in their thinking about who people are. Range is a function of humanity and I feel that “they’re only x y z” mentality is an injustice against a person’s fundamental humanity. Yes we all have our strengths but everyone should try to expand and do different things.
    Marketing is a wonderful tool for inspiring interest but like any tool it requires a honing and finesse and generally that’s not applied enough
    People really need to learn to put hype aside and focus on the more substantive stuff

  15. As a general rule I don’t think very much of the people who write tell alls of that nature. It’s the worst type of gossip and had JAG turned out to be that kind of book I would have been deeply disappointed. The real book was profoundly inspiring.

  16. My wife and I are really looking forward to seeing you! Are you and/or The Guild going to have a booth, or are signings going to be around the talk/panel discussion?

  17. While my eyes tend to glaze over with all the talk about computer operating systems (though I did teach programming on the old, old radio shack computers with tape players for hard drives), I find comfort in knowing that there are so many female geeks out there!
    I teach math to 7th graders who were mere infants when the second (ahem, first) Star Wars trilogy came out! So many of the boys are astounded to find out out that I <3 Star Wars (OT, if you must know) and that I am quite versed in trivia and such about the films. For a while I was the only geek teacher at school, but as the years passed, other teachers have come along and now I am not the only geeky teacher, thank the maker!
    When I read JAG, I felt less isolated, even though I knew I would never meet you or any of the other geeks out there. My husband, who is a Star Wars geek-adjacent, and I, a Star Trek geek-adjacent, are each others complement and that is really all that matters to me, geek or not! < (-.o)>

  18. I wouldn’t follow just any geek, you know. Being a geek of the technophobe variety, I’ll only follow people/businesses I know personally.(I really only joined twitter to spy on my middle-schooler.) You are only barely technically in the people-I-know category…you went to school in Eugene with my brother, and we hung out one lazy summer @ Sundance, circa 1984?
    But to be honest, I am too busy for stuff like comic-con, and I enjoyed your coverage. No festivals for me til the 4yr old gets bigger, so thanks for the vicarious fun!
    BTW, I write chapbooks. Trade?

  19. More than one thing that makes us who we are.
    Thanks Wil and Stephanie. So simple a concept is so easily overlooked with the crictics both internal and infernally outside of oursleves.
    I’m glad people like you have the guts/chutzpah/gumption/mad skills to silence those critics, get excited and make stuff. It is rubbing off on the rest of us, some more slowly than others.

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