living in another world

Well, last week really got away from me, didn't it? I meant to write some blog stuff last week, but I was too busy working on [AWESOME SECRET THING] and [OTHER AWESOME SECRET THING THAT'S DIFFERENT FROM AWESOME SECRET THING]. It looks like my plan to sell some books will have to wait for a few days, too, because all of a sudden it's Monday and I'm leaving for Portland and Seattle tomorrow to do a couple of Wil Wheaton vs. Paul and Storm Shows.

I spent most of today working on [AWESOME SECRET THING], and then got down to putting together my setlist for the shows. I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted to do, but I went looking through my blog archives anyway, just in case there was something I'd forgotten about that would be fun to perform.

Going through those archives is weird and wonderful. I don't remember writing most of the posts, but I clearly recall the events that inspired them. What started as a quick skim through the archives turned into a couple of hours spent reliving the high points of the last couple of years. It was time very well spent.

While I combed the archives, I found some flash fiction while that I thought was worth reposting, because it's super short and I don't think it sucks:

239 Sycamore Street

    Ian missed living in a city that didn’t keep any secrets from him, where everything was out in the open: junkies, hookers, pan handlers, rich snobs and bad cops. You knew where you stood with everyone in the city, and everyone in the city knew where they stood with you.

    In the suburbs, though, everyone had a secret. Two houses up, the Doyles were overdue on three months’ of bills, but they kept paying the gardener to come and keep up appearances. Across the street, Mrs. Canton practically begged every delivery boy who came to the door to fuck her, except on Sunday when she went door to door, passing out bible tracts. Next door, Doctor and Mrs. Thompson argued quietly and intensely almost every night about their son, who they’d put into a group home for troubled youth.

    Day after day, Ian smiled and waved to his neighbors, while recording all of their secrets in journals and photo albums.

    When the police finally found the bodies buried in the loose dirt of his basement, his neighbors were shocked: “He was quiet,” Doctor Thompson said. “He kept to himself,” Mrs. Thompson added.

    “He never left his garbage cans out. He kept a lovely lawn,” The Doyles told investigators.

    When the handsome young reporter from Channel 6 came to her door, Mrs. Canton smiled carefully and said, “Would you like to come inside and talk about it over a cup of coffee?” 


Perchance To Dream

    The best part of my day? That’s easy: those few blissful seconds right after I wake up, when I just feel my head against the pillow and the warmth of the blanket, before it all comes crashing back down on me and I remember where I am. That’s when the worst part of the day begins.

    There are guys in here who talk about their dreams. Not like what they want to do with their lives or what they’d do with a million dollars; I mean their actual dreams, where they can fly and talk to animals and shit, but I never remember mine. I haven’t remembered a dream for … well, long enough that I can’t remember what the last one was, and I have a pretty good memory. Like, when I was a kid, there were these smokestacks that I could see from the motorway when we were getting close to home. They were tall, with four rings of red lights around them every five meters or so. The top ring of lights blinked slowly, and on nights when the weather was bad, I could still see the red glow reflecting off the clouds, even if I couldn’t make out the smokestacks in the dark. I would tell my mum, “I can see the smokestacks, mummy!” And she would reply, “That means we’re almost home, darling.”

    On cloudy nights, I lie back on my bed, look out through the bars, and imagine that I can see a soft red glow slowly blinking against the orange reflection of the lights, telling me that I’m almost home.


These short short short stories aren't perfect. I think 239 is the stronger of the duo, but there's some nice imagery in Perchance to Dream that makes it worth reposting.

But the point isn't to be perfect. The point is to get excited and make something creative. I need to remind myself of that from time to time (in this case, "time" being every day or so) or I'll get so stuck trying to get to the mythical Land of Perfection that I'll never leave the station.

I was talking to my friend Ed today, and unexpectedly remembered an idea I had months ago for a story that I think is pretty damn cool, that will be a lot of fun to write and tell. A year ago, I would have been paralyzed with fear about even attempting it, but something happened between then and now, and I'm not afraid any more. I don't feel like a fraud when I make something up and write it down, and I don't hear Carrie's mother holling "They're all going to laugh at you!" when I think, "You know, this would be a fun story to tell."

That bitch yelled at me for years, and it feels pretty good to nail her to the wall with a bunch of shit that I shot right out of my mind.

Making stuff up and writing it down is a lot of fun, but having the courage (or audacity) to show it to other people… well, the risk is worth taking.

26 thoughts on “living in another world”

  1. Excellent point there at the end. (And the stories were good.)
    This is my third year of NaNoWriMo, and it is SO much fun to just write, and go with the flow.
    But the boost I get from actually daring to show it someone makes it all worthwhile, even if I get rejected etc, because that’s not really the point. I dared to do it.
    And Carries mum always did deserve to be stapled to a wall, in my opinion.

  2. A post that includes flash fiction about a serial killer and ends with you nailing a fictional character to a wall with mind bullets. Thank you for making me feel better about my own creepy statements. Also, well said.

  3. My voices of insecurity and worry screamed at me, “They are all going to laugh at you!”
    So I decided to do stand-up.
    Thanks for the encouragement, inner voices.

  4. Of course, the more you put stuff up, the easier it gets. I’ve been doing daily fiction writing on my blog for almost half a year now, and at first it was really intimidating. I had Carrie’s mom in my head too, man, and she’s a nasty piece of work.
    But then, so what if I do suck? What if they do laugh? The goal isn’t not to suck, it’s to get better. And I think I have gotten better in the last 177 days, and I plan to look back when it’s all done and appreciate the progress I’ve made.
    So rock the flash fiction, the weird ideas and the super-secret projects. As long as you’re having fun and making yourself better, then mission accomplished.

  5. Some years ago when I was working on writing a novel my yoga teacher asked me one day if I would share some of it in her class. The thought terrified me to no end – writing stories was one thing, sharing them in front of others quite another. So as a surprise for her birthday, I read about half a chapter at her party to a group of around 30 people, almost all of them complete strangers. People laughed (in a good way), clapped and all in all it was quite uplifting. When I told a mentor of mine who was an established author with a big trade company what I had done, her exact words were “my friend, that took some BALLS!”.
    I later learned that several people in the audience were playwrights and locally well known writers and artists…if I had known that before hand, I think I would have shit a brick or two. ^_^
    And btw, teasing us with not only one, but two awesome secret things reeks of dastardly shenanigans.

  6. Wil,
    It stuns me that with your busy schedule, you have done so much writing on this site. You have done this for many years even during times of writers block. Did you hire someone to do this for you or are you really doing all of this yourself? These days with all of the fake singing on some stages you never really know. Well, no matter what is really going on with this site, it is still fun to enter.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement to get excited, create stuff AND show it to other people. At times you just need that extra little push in the right direction.
    Also: 239 is my favorite of the two. I’d love to read the same story, but told from the perspective of the Doyles or Mrs Canton or (the son of) the Thompsons!
    Also: Awesome Secret Things are awesome! But I bet they taste even better when shared.

  8. “But the point isn’t to be perfect. The point is to get excited and make something creative. I need to remind myself of that from time to time (in this case, “time” being every day or so) or I’ll get so stuck trying to get to the mythical Land of Perfection that I’ll never leave the station.”
    Thank you for this. Much needed. Going to print it out and keep it close by.
    We look forward to the big reveals in Wheaton World.

  9. Hi Wil,
    When you do go to sell the books again, Could you please give us another warning beforehand to give those of us in a different time zone/country a chance to get out hands on one.

  10. Look here, Wil. Why is it Paul and Storm are from right here in the DC area and perform frequently about 10 minutes from my house AND YET you don’t come and join them? You hurt me, Wil. You hurt me here, in my heart. :-(
    Seriously though, your words about writing? So terrific. As a would-be writer who never does it because I know what I wrote just won’t be good enough, I’m finding inspiration in your words to try anyway.

  11. The bravery it takes to post something you’ve written is massive. I haven’t gotten the courage to do so myself, yet. But watching/reading your blog since the Burrito days … I’ll get there soon.

  12. I like writing the start to stories and have some idea about where it should go but finishing or even making some parts of the middle interesting are both not easy nor unsatisfying. I don’t want to cop out and have a deus ex machina ending so don’t write something at all or just don’t like the end.
    But I feel I’m good at beginnings. What you have written, though they stand by themselves, are something I feel I can do. That’s a nice inspiration, Mr. Wheaton.
    Thank you.

  13. Ohai, Wil, I THOUGHT that was you I saw at the station! I was there too, waiting for the never-coming train to the Mythical Land of Perfection, but I shared your realization this morning.
    Get excited about creation. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But I keep telling myself that perfection is impossible, and if you cling to perfectionism, real creativity becomes near-impossible as well.
    So I’m sticking with creation, and reminding myself that if it’s not perfect, at least it’s _there_, and not just an imperfect idea that never made it into a pristine notebook waiting for the perfect idea.
    Plus, even if perfection ever CAN really be reached, I think it would probably be pretty boring after the initial oohing and aahing. Plus, I’m greedy; I could look at perfection and still wonder “okay, what next?!”

  14. I always love your fiction — I would love to see more of it. I don’t write, just like I don’t draw or do very many artistic things, so I’m envious of those who do. You have a great talent, and I’m happy to see you use it.
    See you (and P&S and the 2xClicks!) tomorrow, with a bottle of IPA in hand. ^_^

  15. Hey Wil,
    as the old saying goes: No risk, no fun!
    I always love reading your fiction short stories. They are all great and it’s fun to read them. Could you imagine writing a complete fiction novel some day?
    I bet you could do that easily because you seem to have a great imagination and your writing is awesome.

  16. Wil, thanks for the inspiration of flash fiction. I’m not sure I’m doing it right but I’ve already gotten 2 out today.
    More than I’ve written before.
    Thanks again.

  17. Wil,
    Your writing is really great. But, it is your enthusiasm and love of life that keeps me coming back and reading your blog. It does my heart good to see someone loving what they are doing. I completely agree with your last line… the risk *is* worth taking.

  18. I’m sitting in the balcony of the Aladdin in SE Portland right now, two beers and an intermission into the Wil Wheaton v. Paul & Storm show, and my husband and I just wanted to say thank you for giving us a reason to leave the house.
    The show’s darn fine already, and my reward for meeting my NaNoWriMo goals.
    And yes, my husband is “a black man from the seventies,” and again he says, “Right on!”

  19. Thanks for the reminder, Wil.
    I’m not doing NaNo this year, but I’m doing something called PicoWriMo, where you set your own writing goal for the month. My goal is merely to write (and share what I’ve written) five days a week. I work three straight overnight shifts on the “weekend,” so those days don’t really exist for me, so I threw them out. But writing (and sharing) daily? I used to do that, and I need to get into the habit again. So, weekdays it is.
    I’m all in, because you’re right. It’s a risk worth taking.

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