Category Archives: blog

You stand at the edge while people run you through

Everyone who has Depression experiences it in a different way, but I think it’s safe to say that all of us have days when it sits more heavily on us than others. I realized yesterday morning that I’ve been struggling under more depression and anxiety than usual for the last week or so without even being aware of it. Without realizing it, I’d gotten withdrawn and anxious, and because I didn’t really feel irritable, I wasn’t aware of how irritable I was.

I’ve described the metaphysical weight of depression as being similar to that lead apron the dentist puts on you when you get x-rays of your teeth, only it’s draped over your head and shoulders, and sometimes it even covers your face so you can’t see clearly. Without even knowing it’s happening, all you can see is whatever the depression wants to show you, and depression is a lying jerk.

So yesterday, with the kind and loving help of my wife, I realized how heavy my depression has been weighing on me lately. I don’t know exactly how or why it works, but yesterday, like all the other times I’ve realized that depression was doing its best to smother me, becoming aware of it made the weight of it just a little bit better. I still had a pretty rough day, but I also knew that I’d get better. It was like remembering where the light switch was, so I could turn a light on in a dark room, and see the way out of it.

A big part of realizing that I felt so much anxiety and its accompanying depression was figuring out why I felt that way, and I don’t think I could have done it without Anne’s support and patience.

We were sitting on the couch in the living room. The back doors were open, and birds chirped and sang in the back yard. I told her basically what I wrote above, and she said, “You were really angry about the paparazzi when you were in New York, and if your show is successful, that’s probably going to happen again and again.”

“That sounds awful,” I said.

“Yeah, but you can deal with it in a more constructive way that doesn’t make you so angry,” she said.

“I just hate that feeling of being trapped in a hotel, or not in control of my own …” I trailed off, because I had realized exactly why I got so angry, and why I’d been feeling so anxious and depressed for the last few weeks.

“I just realized that the feeling of being trapped, of not being in control of my own life, of feeling like I can’t just do my own thing is a massive emotional trigger for me, because it reminds me of how I felt so often when I was a kid.

“I hated all the press and attention and demands to be some kind of teen superstar, when all I wanted to do was be an actor.”

I described this picture to her, which I think was taken when I was 15. “I look at that, and I feel so sad for that kid. He’s scared, he’s uncomfortable, and he’s doing his best to just get through that moment so he can go back to whatever he was trying to do before a photographer shoved a camera in his face.

“I think I get so angry now because I’m not just upset that my current life was disrupted by these shitbags, but I’m also retroactively angry at how much they disrupted my life when I was a kid.” I looked at the floor for a long time. Our dog, Riley, walked over to me and shoved her face into my hands. I pet her and continued. “And then I get angry at the people who should have been looking out for me, who should have cared about how I was feeling and protected me, but who just told me to suck it up and deal with it because I had to.”

“That makes sense,” she said. “You’ve talked a lot about how you always felt like nobody listened to you when you were a kid, and how you felt like your feelings weren’t as important to the people around you as what they could get out of you.”

“Exactly. I’ve been working basically for myself for the last ten years, with occasional breaks to go work on shows where I feel like I’m working with people, and for the last month or so, I’ve felt like I’m working for people.”

I stopped scratching Riley’s chin, and she put her paw in my lap.

“Well … you kind of are.”

I looked at her.

“…and that’s okay,” she said. “I know you’re feeling overwhelmed, but this is a good thing, isn’t it?”

I lifted Riley’s paw off of me, and pointed to the floor. She lay down at my feet and sighed.

“…it is. I love the people I work with, and the network goons have all been really supportive and awesome. I guess I just … I don’t know how to feel. It’s really great, and it’s really scary, and there’s a lot at stake, and it’s fun, and I’m …”

I took a deep breath and frowned. “I’m afraid to enjoy it, because it probably won’t last.”

It felt good to say it out loud. It felt freeing. I’m supposed to pretend that we’re going to be some kind of massive success and we’re all gonna get laid, but I have done this long enough to know that nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed, and Firefly was canceled because the network was stupid.

“And on the one hand, if it doesn’t last, all this press and attention that I don’t like goes away. But if it does last–”

“If it does last, you can let the work speak for itself like you want to, and you don’t have to do press, or go places you don’t want to go. But promoting it now is super important because you have to let people know your show exists so they can watch it.”

Riley rolled over on her back. Marlowe walked into the room and stretched out on the floor next to her.

“I know, and I feel like a jerk for having conflicting feelings about it. I guess I haven’t completely dealt with some unresolved childhood issues, and they’re getting stirred up in my stupid brain.”

My cat, Watson, jumped up into my lap and began to purr. He rubbed his face against my hand, then against my chin, and then began to groom my beard.

“I’m really grateful for everything we have, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise,” I said, around Watson’s catfood breath. “I just remember how I felt so unhappy so often when I was a kid, and I don’t want to feel that way again.”

“I know.”

I lifted Watson off of my chest and put him on the couch next to me. He rolled on his back and pushed his head into my thigh. I scratched his chin and his belly.

“I also know that I’ve been letting Depression make me feel like shit for the last month or so, and I know that Depression lies, so I’m probably just fixated on all the worst case stuff, and not paying enough attention to the awesome stuff.”

And the second those words came out of my mouth, it was like someone cast Dispel Depression. I felt the weight of it lift off of me. I saw the light switch in the room, and though I knew it would take a little bit of time before I could walk out, I at least saw the doorway.

I’m going to talk with a therapist about the unresolved emotional issues from when I was a kid, and I’m going to work even harder so that Depression can’t trick me into thinking all this incredibly awesome stuff that I get to do is something I can’t enjoy. It’s going to be a challenge — it always is — but I can do it, because I’ve done it before.

And you know what? It is going to be fun to make The Wil Wheaton Project. I know it will be fun, because it has already been fun, and I think I need to consider the two likely scenarios: if we only do 12, I get to go back to my normal life at the end of the summer after working with some really great people and doing something we’re proud of. If we end up doing more than that, I can let the work speak for itself, and I’ll learn to adjust to a new normal in my life, because the really valuable and important bits of my life — my wife, my kids, our home, burritos and beer — are going to be here no matter what I do for my job, and nobody can take them away from me, not even Depression.

“I feel a lot better,” I said. “Thanks for listening to me.”

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”

 

Is there anybody out there?

I’m not quite sure why my blog was a plain white screen, or how long it was like that. Hopefully, writing a new post will kick whatever bits need to be kicked, and it’ll look like a website again when I press publish.

New York wasn’t as bad as expected, though I was harassed by paparazzi pretty much any time I tried to leave my hotel, and that really sucked. My pure, raging hatred for those people is well known, so I won’t dwell on it.

It’s very good to be home, to sleep in my own bed, cook my own meals, and walk in my own neighborhood. I pretty much fucked off all weekend, got caught up on some shows, and drank way too much beer because it was there and beer is delicious and nothing makes you want to have a third beer quite like a second beer.

Today, I did interviews for Carson Daly’s show, Larry King’s show, and the New York Post. I’m starting to get tired of the sound of my own voice, and I’m looking forward to getting The Wil Wheaton Project on the air so I can spend more time making the show and less time talking about making the show.

After my interviews were finished, I went to the office and watched some of the test show we taped last week so I could get feedback from the other producers and one of our consultants. It was sort of like what I imagine watching game day tapes would be like on a Monday morning. I’ve developed this skill over the years that lets me watch my work without feeling like I’m watching myself, so I can objectively critique the performance, and my overall impression from the tape was that this guy is having fun, he likes the audience, he’s relaxed, and I wouldn’t mind watching him be funny for the next twenty minutes. Hopefully, the rest of the audience will feel the same way, and in eight days, we’ll find out if they do.

waking up on the 40th floor

I’m on the 40th floor of a hotel that’s way too fancy for me. My room is bigger than my first apartment. A box next to the bed controls everything from the lights to the curtains to the music that seems to just appear out of thin air at the touch of a button.

Last night, I ate dinner in a restaurant that was way too fancy for me, and had the fanciest sidecar I’ve ever had. It had jalapeño in it.

I got to New York in one of the fanciest seats in the sky I’ve ever sat in. It could turn into a bed if I wanted, and it came with a TV.

In about an hour, someone is coming to my fancy hotel room to make me look fancier than I am, so I can go talk to the press about a new show — my new show — that the network is so excited about promoting, they put me in this fancy place to talk about it. If all this press works out, and enough people watch it, I may even get to do it for more than 12 episodes.

Tomorrow, I’ll go be fancy again, for pretty much all the press in the world, and then I get to go home to my wife and pets on Friday. I’ll spend the weekend with my family, in my house that I love, and I won’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do.

My new show, that I’ve been working on for over a year, premieres in less than two weeks, and even though we’ve been working on it for so long, it only began to feel real two days ago.

How did I even get this life? I will take none of this for granted. I will appreciate every good thing in my life, and keep working hard to earn those things. I am and will be grateful for everything in my life, even these things that feel too fancy and weird for me.

I keep expecting to wake up from all of this, which is probably why I can’t seem to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time.

i feel really weird right now

This morning, I took my dogs out into my backyard, and watched them run around. A warm, almost hot Santa Ana wind blew leaves off the trees, and the dogs kept stopping to smell whatever mysteries the wind brought with it.

About 18 hours ago, I walked to center ice at Staples Center with Bob Miller and Jim Fox, and threw a pie into Greg Wyshynski’s face.

I know that doesn’t mean much to most of you, but it was such a surreal experience for me, I have to write it down so I can know that it was real.

In about 30 hours, I’ll walk out in front of an audience and thank them for coming to the first ever taping of a show I helped develop, that I write, produce, and host. At the moment, I’m making twelve episodes of that show, but there’s a non-zero chance I will get to make more.

In about 48 hours, I’ll get on a plane and fly to New York, where I’ll spend three days doing one of the things I hate most in the world: talking to the press to promote something. I prefer to let the work speak for itself, but before I can do that, people have to know that the work exists. It’s a first world problem, to be sure, but not something I’m looking forward to doing.

I miss writing narrative stories on my blog, and I suppose I should be embracing the fact that I can’t, because I’m so busy working on creating things. I’m happy for those things, obviously, but I still miss the simple joy of sitting down in The Quiet of telling a story and writing it down.

Tabletop Season 3 is the most successful crowdfunded webseries in history. We finished last night at just over 1.4 million dollars.

Everything is really awesome and amazing, and I feel really weird right now.

wil wheaton project tickets, music, tabletop, rampart

A couple quick things before I leave for work:

 

 

A Live Preview of the Wil Wheaton Project, in Hollywood this Sunday

I spent most of yesterday with my writers and producers, working on a script for The Wil Wheaton Project. We watched a ton of clips, and then worked out jokes that went with them. At one point, we were trying to make a funny joke even funnier than it was, and realized that we’d gotten “room drunk,” which is what happens when you’re having so much fun in the writer’s room, you just get completely goofy and too silly for the task at hand.

There’s a strange thing that happens in a writer’s room (at least a comedy writers’ room, based on my limited experience doing this show and several years of sketch comedy) where we’ll come up with something really hilarious, but nobody will laugh. Someone will just say, very calmly, “oh man, that’s really funny,” and we know that we have a winning joke or premise. Other times, we’re just riffing about bullshit, completely cracking each other up, and though we don’t get anything out of it that we can use directly, it’s an important part of the process that gets us to “oh man, that’s really funny.”

A lot of that happened yesterday, and though I was creatively, physically, and emotionally exhausted by the time I got home, it was a very good day.

Anne and I had dinner, shared a Ruination IPA, and watched The Americans (one of our very favourite shows on television) before we went to sleep early, because we were going to be picked up at 6:15 to go to the airport. Because our brains hate us, we couldn’t fall asleep until around 11, and we both woke up at 4:15am. Because that wasn’t enough, our brains wouldn’t let us sleep on the plane, and now it’s just about 9:30 here in our Undisclosed East Coast Location, where we will remain until Saturday.

Now to the important part of this post: Sunday, I am going to do a live show at the IO West in Hollywood, and I’d really love it if any of you reading this in Los Angeles would come to the show.

MY DETAILS LET ME SHOW YOU THEM:

Whether you’re a hardcore nerd or just dig Sci-fi, join us this May Fourth (Star Wars Day) for a special event at the iO West!

The Wil Wheaton Project premieres on the SYFY Channel May 27th, but you can catch a sneak peak with a special live performance with host Wil Wheaton May 4th 7pm at the iO West!

The Wil Wheaton Project covers the entire Sci-Fi umbrella with the latest news, as well as the best clips from TV, film, gaming and the web.

With special guest Jonah Ray (The Meltdown on Comedy Central)

http://www.syfy.com/wilwheaton

A lot of the stuff we’ve been working on for the last several weeks will be in this show, which is designed for us to try some things out in front of an audience, and get a sense of what does and doesn’t work. My instinct is that most of it will be really funny and entertaining, and even if some of it doesn’t work, the audience has my permission to give me a rousing BOOOOOO-URNS.

Now, listen, Internet, I know how this usually goes down: I say, “Hey, I’m doing a show in Los Angeles, and I hope you’ll come see it!” And instead of something like, “YES! WE WILL BE THERE AND BRING THREE FRIENDS AND ALSO BEER YOU LIKE” what usually happens is the Internet says, “Oh. Well. That’s great. Why aren’t you doing a show in $name.of.my-city.h?”

So I get it, that most of you aren’t in LA, and even if you are it’s a hassle to leave the house on a Sunday for a show that your favourite Internet scamp Wil Wheaton is performing, that won’t even take an hour, at a comedy club in Hollywood that has a great bar and even survived a car crashing right into it one time. I get that, and I want you to know that you get a free pass to miss this one, because of reasons.

But, seriously, if you’re in Los Angeles (or nearby) and you’d like to 1) get a sneak peek of what The Wil Wheaton Project is going to be like and B) help me, simply by being in the theater, to know how I’m doing, I would be ever so grateful.  The show starts at 7pm, and you’ll be on your way home by 8pm (unless you want to stay for the next show, which I hear is pretty great).

That said, this theater isn’t huge, and there’s a non-zero chance it’ll sell out, so if you want to go, I’d recommend getting your tickets now.

First Contact and The Wil Wheaton Project

My new show premieres a month from today, on the network that I like to call “the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi,” but since that makes people who changed its name mad at me, I won’t call it that in this post.*

Seriously I’m bolding this because it’s important: The Wil Wheaton Project premieres at 10pm EDT on Tuesday, May 27th, on Syfy™ Syfy: Imagine Greater, and also watch WWE.**

(All silliness aside, everyone I’ve been working with at Syfy has been super awesome, super supportive, and as excited about this project as I am. I wouldn’t feel okay making jokes at the network’s expense if I didn’t know that they have a good sense of humor. We shot some promos last week where they let me really rip some of their own programming, because we did it in a funny way, and not all networks would let us do something like that.)

Okay. So, to business:

I’ve been meeting with my staff of writers, segment producers, researchers, and other creative people a couple of times a week for the last month or so, and we’ve been figuring out what shows we love, what shows we hate, and deciding how we’ll cover those shows as their (and our)season unfolds.

There are scripted shows we love, like Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. There are scripted shows that are so awful, it’s almost hard to figure out which joke we’re going to make (see: pretty much everything on the CW). There are some really great things online that I’m not going to describe now because I want to keep them to myself, and then there are the vast numbers of unscripted paranormal “reality” shows that are so insanely horrible, they actually come back around the track and end up being good: Mountain Monsters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Adventure Ghosts, Monster Ghosts On The Mountain Having An Adventure***.

When we get  together for these meetings, we watch clips that the creative team has found, and then we pitch jokes to each other. It’s a really fun process, where we’re basically watching hilariously bad stuff, and then seeing who can make the room laugh the hardest. It turns out that all the MST3K I watched in college was actually contributing to my education, and I’m using the skills it taught me to this day.

I’m super happy and grateful that I’m working with people who are funnier and smarter than I am, so I have to push myself to keep up with them. I’m already a better comedy writer than I was a month ago, and I’m pretty excited that I’m leveling up those skills.

A couple weeks ago, we were pitching ideas to each other,  and we came up with something we think will be really cool and probably pretty funny. It’s called First Contact.

The idea is for you to tell us a story about a memorable time you met someone famous who you looked up to or admired. Whether it was funny, awesome, awkward, awful, or some combination of them all, we want to hear it.

All of us on the creative team will go through anything you submit, and we’ll pick out a few of our favorites to be animated and recreated on the show. I’ve talked to some of my friends who are voice actors, and I’m super happy and excited that some of the very best actors in the business are going to be part of this.

We had to talk to lawyers and people who wear suits every day to get permission to do this, and they said that it was okay, as long as I said precisely the following:

This is what I need from you:

- We want to see you on camera telling the story.  

- Make sure you are talking directly to camera in a well lit room.

- Go someplace quiet with no noise and absolutely no music playing in the background.

- Your story must be true and authentic in describing the people and events that took place. No fibs, please.

- Please try to keep these stories under 2 minutes.  The shorter the better.

Once you’ve recorded your story, upload it to Youtube and send the link to HEYWWP at gmail dot com

Be sure to include any contact info so we can let you know if we plan on using your story.

Before you record, think about the details. I’m sure you were excited and nervous to meet your favorite celeb in real life.   Did it take courage to go up to him or her?   What was going through your head?  What did you say?  What did they say?  What about them surprised you?  How did it end?  Were your friends jealous?  

 

I’ll add that details about the time, place, and other environmental elements will give our animators stuff to work with. Speaking as a storyteller myself, I encourage you to get to the emotional center of the story as quickly as you can, because that’s how you connect to an audience. If you’d like an example of a first meeting that wasn’t particularly awesome, you can listen to my WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER story from w00tstock.

If you have any questions about this, ask them in comments and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.

*OMG this hand that feeds me tastes SO GOOD!

**OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM please don’t cancel me before i even start i’ll be good i promise

***some of these don’t actually exist, but they could, with just a little bit of creative editing.

Tabletop Season Three Will Be A Full 20 Episodes!!

After my very long day yesterday, I slept for 12 hours last night (and felt like I earned it, for a change).

When I woke up, Anne told me that Tabletop Season Three had it its first stretch goal, and we have the budget for a full 20 episode season.

I’m still pretty gobsmacked, and I’ve been struggling for a couple of hours to find the words to express my gratitude. As I often do when I find myself stuck for words, I began wasting time on the Internet. We had a really fun and magnificently creative #photoshopwilwheaton experience on Twitter yesterday, so I went to the Photoshop Wil Wheaton Tumblr to see if any of them had been submitted there, and I found the perfect way to express my joy and gratitude to everyone who has supported Tabletop Season 3:

750K and 20 Episodes of Tabletop Season 3 by jprakath
Click to Embiggen

My thanks and epic high fives to jprakath, who made this amazing work of creative genius, and also to everyone who has helped us get here for Tabletop. If you’d like to help us get to the RPG show I’m dying to make, we need $250K in the next 15 days. I know it’s a ways to go, but I’m beginning to believe that we may just get to do that RPG show, after all!

sleepy jack the fire drill

I got up today before the sun did, after sleeping just under six hours. Normally, I would go to be good and early before a day when I have to get up at 5am, but I was up a little later than usual last night because I was playing tabletop games with a couple of my friends and a couple of guys who won the opportunity in a charity auction. And if I may humblebrag for a moment, one of those guys was Tom Vassel, and one of the games we played was his game, called Nothing Personal.

That may be a story for another time, because at the moment I am so tired I can taste time.

Getting up super early on less than the optimal amount of sleep isn’t that big a deal, but the massive pain I have in my neck is killing me. Two nights ago I slept weird and pushed one of the vertebrae in my neck out, so I have all kinds of pain down my right arm, shoulder, and back. It’s putting some strain on my throat, even, so my voice sounds a little strange to me (which may be a problem, because I’m doing a voice job and an on-camera job later today).

I haven’t done one of these off-the-top-of-my-head blogs in forever, so I guess that’s what this is going to be, because I have to leave for my voice job in 20 minutes, and if I stop to rest my eyes for even a second, I’m going to join Bart and Lisa with Groundskeeper Willie, and that never goes well, whether it’s Smarch or not.

So how about those Kings last night? And did you see that Tabletop Season 3 is about 12,000 away from a full season of 20 episodes?!

Back to my very big day: I just got back from an incredibly fun Western photoshoot with Anne and our friends Colin, Ashley, and Doug. It’s for our friend Donna’s shop, Clockwork Couture, and when it’s ready for viewing, I’ll link to it.

We had to start really early today, because I’m going to work on Teen Titans at 10am, and the minute I finish that, I’m going to shoot promos and things for The Wil Wheaton Project all afternoon.

I expect my day to end with me slipping into the sleep of the very very tired shortly after I walk back into my house tonight.

I’m not complaining about anything, mind you. I’ve had enough days in my life where I had nothing at all to do, and if I have a day like this which is so full of stuff I end up feeling like this guy, I’m really okay with that.

Also, If  you’ve been playing along with me in the Dragons of Atlantis Advisor Wheaton questing super happy funtimes, be ready for a new quest later this afternoon.