Did I dream you dreamed about me?

Earlier this week, I was talking with my friend Amy Berg, who is one hell of a writer (she's an Executive Producer on Eureka, and created Cha0s when she wrote for Leverage). Amy's been encouraging me to write fiction for years, even when I regularly responded with statements like "I can't" or "I don't know how" or "I've tried and I suck at it" or "They're all going to laugh at me!"

She always told me that I would surprise myself if I just got out of my own way and wrote stories, so at the end of last year, I started Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year to see if she was right. 

It was terrifying at first, because I really believed all those things I told her (especially the part about everyone laughing at me), but the whole point of Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year was to stop being afraid and worrying about things never being good enough. The goal wasn't to be perfect, I kept reminding myself, the goal was to be creative.

I guess it worked, because after a couple weeks of Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year, I found the courage to release The Day After and Other Stories, which was surprisingly well received and sold way more than I ever expected it would, considering its price and length.

When we talked, I mentioned all of this to her. Before I even realized I was saying it, I heard the words, "I don't feel like a fraud anymore when I write fiction."

"That's good!" She said with a laugh. We talked for a few more minutes and when I hung up the phone, those words still hung in the air around me.

"I don't feel like a fraud anymore when I write fiction."

I couldn't believe I actually said it, and that I really believe it. See, I know I'm not the greatest fiction writer in the world, and I have a long way to go before I feel as comfortable writing fiction as I do writing non-fiction. But I have a great time when I make up and write stories, and so far my incredibly unscientific and minuscule sample indicates that people enjoy reading them, too.

So I've been able to keep on doing it, working on various projects a little bit every day, slowly pushing them toward their terrifying release. One of those projects, currently titled "Hunters (this really needs a better title)", is nearly finished. I think Andrew and I have it at a place where I'll be ready to let it go pretty soon, and instead of the stomach-turning fear and anxiety I felt with The Day After and Other Stories, I'm actually excited to publish it.

Anyway, here's a little preview:

Pyke chased the girl down a street still wet with the afternoon’s rainfall. A thin sliver of moon was glowing behind the thinning clouds, but it wasn’t bright enough to pierce the darkness between the few street lamps that still worked. The girl was fast. He had to stay close, or she’d escape. 

Pyke had let the girl put about 500 feet between them when she ran through a bright pool of light and was swallowed by darkness. When she didn’t reappear, Pyke knew he had her, for there was only one place she could have gone. He followed her through a once-ornate gateway into the old city, where the colony had been founded a century before.

Her footfalls echoed off rows of empty windows down narrow streets that seemed to turn back on themselves, an ancient trick intended to confuse invaders. When the Gan arrived, they solved this puzzle by simply bombarding most of the buildings and walls from low orbit until there weren’t many places left to hide. Hunters like Pykea second-generation Goa colonist who’d grown up in the old cityknew every twist, every turn, every blind alley and every hidden basement.

It wasn’t the first time Pyke had pushed a rebel into the avenues. In the six months he’d been working for the Gan, he’d let dozens of terrified patriots think they were making their escape into the old city’s maze-like streets, only to trap them in one of its countless dead ends, where he’d have a little fun before turning them over to his masters.

He heard a splash just down the block, followed by a yelp. She must have fallen in a puddle, Pyke thought. Shallow craters were everywhere in these streets; filled with water, they made quite effective traps. Pyke slowed to a jog and grinned. It was only a matter of time now.

Oh Pyke, you're a bad, bad man.

The whole thing is about 3000 words, so I'm probably going to try an experiment with it, and make ePub and PDF versions that will cost around a dollar at my Lulu store. I think I'll eventually put it here or my virtual bookshelf for free, too. If I sell enough to make that a viable business model, I'll keep doing that in the future. (Or not. I reserve the right to change my mind and then change it back again.)

25 thoughts on “Did I dream you dreamed about me?”

  1. Can’t wait to read more of your writing of the creative sense. I actually just finished Just a Geek and really enjoyed it. The chance to read some of your fictional work would be very welcome. Also, my shiny new kindle appreciates your ebooks.

  2. Go Wil, go! I’m turning into a Wheaton completist. I genuinely feel like I’m missing out if I let any of your posts pass by without reading them. So keep with the thought wrangling and the pouring-of-yourself-on-the-page awesomeness. Make the complete Wheaton more complete.

  3. Excellent stuff! I would gladly pay for it! I myself have been recently getting into the whole fiction thing…I’ve only released one story so far, but check it out…it’s free to read and free to download on Scribd.
    It’s a short story called “Reversion”, in which a zombie finds himself slowly coming back to life. Enjoy!
    Tagline: A zombie awakens to find himself slowly turning human. What becomes of the grey when they return?

  4. It will probably find its way into some sort of print collection at some point, when I have enough short stories to join together into a full-length collection. Until then, though, it's just electronic because it's only 3000(ish) words. You could always print out the PDF version, if you wanted, though.

  5. You’ve managed not to suck again.
    I like the mood. I like the fact that it wasn’t sci-fi until it was, and that was good. I liked getting into Pyke’s head and feeling his confidence instead of getting told he was confident.
    I doubt now that I will laugh at you should I read the whole thing.
    But I will smile. :)

  6. My copy of The Day After and Other Stories arrived just after you went dark for JoCo Cruise Crazy, so I haven’t had a chance until now to say how much I enjoyed it. Thank you for making it available.
    And, by the way, that excerpt is *good*! I’m itching to spend some money now.

  7. How you could have doubted your ability to write fiction is beyond me. You are not the best fiction writer ever, no. You are however, a damn good one. I enjoyed The Day After etc, immensely. You’re able to create a vivid image in the reader’s imagination through your descriptions. After reading this short section, I can’t wait until the whole thing is available. I can see the world your describing and it looks pretty cool. Don’t make us wait too long.

  8. I like the storytelling, but I think you can make the language better. The phrases “pierce the darkness” and “swallowed by darkness” are cliches. Try to rewrite those parts with something more uniquely you.

  9. I don’t just like it because you are wil Wheaton. I like it so far, because it’s good!
    You have me interested. I want to know who Pyke is and why he hunts rebels. Who are the rebels and what are they rebelling against? Does this girl escape or not? If she does, does she become a hero? Does Pyke stay a hunter or does his purpose in the story change?
    I’ll surely be looking for this when it’s done…and take your time. I can wait for something if I know it’s going to be good.
    Confidence does not come easy to true talent. And you, my friend have talent.
    Thank you for sharing a snip-it.

  10. Is there any way to still buy the pdf for The Day After and Other Stories? I was convinced that only the print version was limited time only, so I put it off until it was too late.

  11. It’s not bad at all. Kept my attention personally, got a good setting, already curious about what hunters are like, and certainly thinking there’s more to the girl than we know right now. =) Going to be a cool story; we really do hope you share it with everyone.

  12. Wil, the only time we laugh at you is when you say some crazy-ass funny thing. Acting and writing fiction–they’re SO very much alike. You’re an experienced nonfiction writer and an experienced actor; that puts you miles ahead of most “young” fiction writers. Your mantra “Dare to suck” has gotten me through more first drafts than you’ll ever realize. Including the sucktastic one I gave you!
    Remember that you already know everything you need to know–you know how to be Pyke, for instance. And remember the audience wants to love you. The rest is just writing. And re-writing. And–OK, it’s hard work. But you’ve got everything you need to do it. So dare. :)

  13. You aren’t a great fiction writer, yet. You are a good enough fiction writer today. You are a great blog writer (which could probably accurately be described as memoir writer), but you’ve been practicing that for ten years or so. I’d guess your roleplaying and acting experience has built up the story generation tools you need. Now you just need lots and lots of practice putting those ideas on paper. Who cares if they laugh at you? You’ve been laughed at before and look where you are today. Practice as much as you can and a little bit more than that. Or don’t. Ultimately you need to do what makes you happy and damn the rest.

  14. It is said that perfectionists are always overly concerned about how they appear to others. Keep doing what you’re doing Wil and believe in yourself a little. OK.
    I would suggest a little time in the wilderness to get a little idea of how insignifcant we all are.

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