I imagine my creative process as a cycle of filling up a reservoir with inspirations and ideas, and then emptying it out into various creations. Sometimes that reservoir is drained in one explosive surge, but mostly it’s emptied out a little bit at a time, into different projects.
Recently, I’ve been using my creative reserves to power the writing on the Tabletop RPG show, and whatever is left is going into Radio Free Burrito. My stupid random thoughts and links, once the exclusive property of my blog, are filling up Twitter and Tumblr, and I haven’t had much to say here, anyway.
Most of the things I’ve been consuming are helping me power up and work on the Tabletop RPG show (all day today I have conference calls with our writers and designers!) and I would like to share some of the ways I’ve been refilling my creative reservoir, starting with books:
I’ve independently produced an audiobook edition of my nonfiction book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, paying Wil Wheaton to narrate it (he did *such* a great job on the Homeland audiobook, with a mixdown by the wonderful John Taylor Williams, and bed-music from Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls.
Both Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman contributed forewords to this one, and Wil reads them, too (of course). I could *not* be happier with how it came out. My sincere thanks to Wil, the Skyboat Media people (Cassandra and Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki), John Taylor Williams, and to Amanda for the music.
The book is $15, is DRM free, and has no EULA — you don’t need to give up any of your rights to buy it. It should be available in Downpour and other DRM-free outlets soon, but, of course, it won’t be in Itunes or Audible, because both companies insist that you use DRM with your works, and I don’t use DRM (for reasons that this book goes to some length to explain).
I loved reading this book, which is described by the publisher, thusly:
In sharply argued, fast-moving chapters, Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free takes on the state of copyright and creative success in the digital age. Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? This is a book about the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today — about how the old models have failed or found new footing, and about what might soon replace them. An essential read for anyone with a stake in the future of the arts, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free offers a vivid guide to the ways creativity and the Internet interact today, and to what might be coming next.
Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free takes its place next to The Purple Cow in my library of essential books for independent creators and Makers, and I’m proud and privileged to read the audio version.
This weekend, Anne and I went to Portland for Rose City Comicon. While we were there, we visited my sister and her family, saw a strange ball of fire in the sky that I don’t usually seen in Portland, and had an absolutely fantastic time at the convention.
I took a bunch of pictures, and I think they tell the story of the weekend very well, so this is mostly a picture post. I’m going to put the rest of this behind a jump, so my blog doesn’t take forever to load.
When our kids were little, they loved Harry Potter, especially Ryan, who has the exact same birthday at Harry.
I never read the books because of reasons, and I only saw the first couple of movies, also because of reasons.
Recently, Anne and I decided that we would finally read the books, and we’re about halfway through the first one (I’m a couple chapters ahead of Anne, because I had some time on an airplane that I spent … wisely).
Yesterday at Wondercon, while we were walking to our panel, I told Felicia that we were reading the books, and trying to describe to her how much I love them.
“I just … I really want to go to Hogwarts,” I said.
“They’re building one at Universal Studios,” she said.
We passed through a curtain and approached a set of large, closed doors.
“No, I don’t want to go to an amusement park recreation of Hogwarts,” I said, “I want to go to Hogwarts. I want to go to a train station, run though a wall to platform 9 3/4, and take a train to Hogwarts, where I will learn how to be a wizard. I want Hogwarts to be real.”
I noticed that she’d taken a subtle step away from me, which was probably a good idea. I was getting excited.
“What house are you?” She said. Our escort opened the doors and led us into an enormous corridor that was over twenty feet high, equally as wide, and a few hundred feet long. Chairs were stacked along one wall, and the other wall had doors in it that granted access to the various meeting rooms where the panels were held.
“I’m pretty sure I’m Ravenclaw,” I said.
“No way, dude. You’re totally a Slytherin.”
“I am not a Slytherin!”
“Yeah, you totally are a Slytherin.” Felicia crunched up her nose and grinned at me. “My brother’s a Slytherin.”
“Dude, I’m going to be Ravenclaw … or maybe Gryffindor. But I really think I’m Ravenclaw.” Our footsteps and voices echoed off the cement floor and walls. I imagined that we were in a castle.
“I’m Ravenclaw,” Felicia said.
“When I get home, I’m taking the test at Pottermore, and I’m going to be Ravenclaw, too.” We arrived at the door for our panel, and waited while the panel before us finished up. We talked a little bit about what we’d make sure to cover on the panel, and I realized that the corridor we’d just walked down was perfect for riding a longboard skateboard.
The previous panel walked out, the room filled up with people who were there to see us, and after a quick Tabletop trailer, we went inside for our panel. It was great.
When I got home last night, I was too tired for taking the sorting hat test at Pottermore, so I took it this morning. I was honest in all of my answers, and spent a fair amount of time thinking about some of the questions. I wasn’t trying to get the house I wanted (and I don’t know enough about Harry Potter to manipulate the results, anyway), so I was incredibly happy (and a little relieved) when I found out that, yes, I was in Ravenclaw.
I know it’s a silly thing, and I know I’m a little too old to really care about it, but reading Harry Potter makes me feel like I’m part of something that’s special, that means a lot to a lot of people.
And I know it’s silly to care about what house I’m in … but I’m really glad to be in Ravenclaw, because I have a lot of books I need to read.
The text is taken from the special deluxe edition that Subterranean Press published in 2009, and includes several new stories that were not included in the original release, plus introductions to each chapter that provide some additional context and interesting background information.
Here’s how we describe the book, in super-fantastic marketing speak:
Readers of Wil Wheaton’s website know that he is a masterful teller of elegant stories about his life. Building on the critical success of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek, he has collected more of his own favorite stories in his third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives.
These are the stories Wil loves to tell, because they are the closest to his heart: stories about being a huge geek, passing his geeky hobbies and values along to his own children, and vividly painting what it meant to grow up in the ’70s and come of age in the ’80s as part of the video game/D&D/BBS/Star Wars figures generation.
Within the pages of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, you will find:
“The Butterfly Tree”: how one Back to School night continues to shape Wil’s sense of social justice, thirty years later;
“Blue Light Special”: the greatest challenge a ten year-old could face in 1982: save his allowance, or buy Star Wars figures?
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Geek”: why fantasy role-playing games are such an important part of Wil’s past – and his present;
“The Big Goodbye”: a visit to Paramount gives Wheaton a second chance to say farewell to Star Trek . . . properly, this time;
“Let Go”: a moving eulogy for a beloved friend.
In all of these tales, Wheaton brings the reader into the raw heart of the story, holding nothing back, and you are invited to join him on a journey through The Happiest Days of Our Lives.
Pretty swell, right? Yeeeaahhh.
As with Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek, you can stream the entire book from the website.
Okay, so here’s the thing that’s kind of cool, I think: Bandcamp makes it very easy for me to sell merchandise, in addition to audio files, and because I have some copies of the Special Deluxe Edition in my home office, I’m going to offer a very limited number of them for sale.
There are 20 signed and numbered copies available, and 30 signed and not numbered copies available, so if that’s something you or someone you know would like, grab whatever you want while it’s there. If you get your order placed in the next 24 hours, it should get to you in time for Christmas (in the US, I don’t know about the rest of the world — which I’ve just realized is one of the most cliche American things I could ever say.)
When I was writing my first book, Just A Geek, I ended up with a lot of stories that just didn’t fit within the narrative. I didn’t know what to do with them, until my friend and editor, Andrew, said, “Why don’t you put them in their own book?”
I was hesitant, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a very good idea, so that’s what I did. I asked my friend Ben to draw some illustrations to keep the stories company, and I published it all on my own, before Just A Geek was even completely finished. The book is called Dancing Barefoot.
After I released the audio versions of Just a Geek and The Happiest Days of Our Lives, a lot of people asked me when I was going to do an audio version of Dancing Barefoot, to round out what I’ve just decided to call a trilogy. The truth is, I never intended to do an audio version of it, because I felt like I’d grown as a writer since it was published, and it would sound and feel strange to revisit that book without wanting to rewrite the whole thing.
But something really changed in me when I turned 40 last year, and I stopped worrying so much about things like that. I accepted that it was the best I could do then, and even if it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s because I made it that way.
So about a month ago, I booked some studio time with my favorite audiobook producers, and finally recorded an audio version of Dancing Barefoot.
It felt a little strange to record something I wrote over a decade ago, as I was entering my thirties, and looking into my past in order to understand my future. It was written during a tumultuous and uncertain time, when I was struggling so much just to make it month to month. Reading it now, knowing what my future actually held, both wonderful and terrible, made it a more emotional experience than I expected.
I had this weird sense of nostalgia as I read it, like nesting dolls: I remembered the stories that I told, I remembered writing them down on my blog for the first time, then editing them into Dancing Barefoot for the first time, and then shipping thousands of books around the world, out of my living room. I remembered how excited I felt when Anne and I opened the first box of books when they were delivered from the printer, and how happy it still makes me feel when someone hands me one of those books to sign for them.
Real quick, before I get to the link for the album, I want to say something to those of you who have been here for a decade, especially those of you who bought Dancing Barefoot so long ago: Thank you. Without your support then, I wouldn’t be here now. There’s a straight line between you buying that book from me, and me working on Eureka, Big Bang Theory, Leverage, and everything else. There’s an even shorter, straighter line between me shipping that book to you from my living room floor, to me writing all my other books, magazine columns, and posts of varying quality on this blog.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with declaring that “there are no second acts in American lives,” and before I began this journey a little over a decade ago, I believed him. But because I people like you kept coming back to read my blog, kept coming to see me perform on stage, and bought my books when I published them, I feel like I may be one of the exceptions to that rule.
I’m incredibly grateful for the life that I have now, the life that I worked so hard to build. Every single day, I’m afraid that I’m going to wake up and discover that it’s just a dream, or a cruel trick in some episode of The Twilight Zone. I worked really hard for what I have now, but I didn’t do it alone. People I’ll never meet took a chance on me and made it possible for me to do what I’m doing now, and I can’t thank you enough.
Okay, I’m rambling, so I’ll just get out of the way. Here’s the product information:
It’s available now on my Bandcamp page, you can listen to the entire thing there for free, or you can buy it for $10 though the weekend, before it goes up to $20 next week. It includes a digital booklet with all the illustrations Ben did, scanned by me from my original author’s copy of the book.
Here’s the description:
Available for the first time in audio, read by the author.
In this wonderful Freshman effort, actor and author Wil Wheaton shares five short-but-true stories about life in the so-called Space Age:
Houses in Motion – Memories fill the emptiness left within a childhood home, and saying goodbye brings them to life.
Ready Or Not Here I Come – A game of hide-n-seek with the kids works as a time machine, taking Wil on a tour of the hiding and seeking of years gone by.
Inferno – Two 15-year-olds pass in the night leaving behind pleasant memories and a perfumed Car Wars Deluxe Edition Box Set.
We Close Our Eyes – A few beautiful moments spent dancing in the rain.
The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants – A story of love, hate, laughter and the acceptance of all things Trek.
For almost two years, the only way to get a copy of Just A Geek: Teh Audio Book was to download it from shady websites, or torrent it. I don’t begrudge anyone who picked it up that way, because I wasn’t doing anything to make it easy to get it in a way that put shiny gold coins in my pocket.
This journey is a fascinating read, made even more intimate and fulfilling by Wil’s narrative. This is not just an audio book, it’s a glimpse into the psyche of the man who considers himself… Just a Geek.
I’m very proud of the audio book. I’ve talked in the past about what a huge letdown my experience wih O’Reilly was on the print version of the book, and much of the joy I’d hoped to feel with its release has instead come from the recording of the audio version, which ended up being a performance, with asides, commentary, and reflections on the material that aren’t in the print version of the book. I guess it’s like I’m reading the book to you, and occasionally setting it down to give some meta-commentary on various passages.
Here’s all the nifty stuff they put at Amazon about the print version:
“A cleverly constructed and vivid collection of
memoirs with flashes of brilliant wit, this title betters even Dancing
Barefoot.” – Paul Hudson, Linux Format, Nov (top stuff award)
Wil Wheaton has never been one to take the conventional path to success. Despite early stardom through his childhood role in the motion picture “Stand By Me”, and growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, Wil left Hollywood in pursuit of happiness, purpose, and a viable means of paying the bills. In the oddest of places, Topeka, Kansas, Wil discovered that despite his claims to fame, he was at heart Just a Geek.
In this, his newest book, Wil shares his deeply personal and difficult journey to find himself. You’ll understand the rigors, and joys, of Wil’s rediscovering of himself, as he comes to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for once having been famous. Writing with honesty and disarming humanity, Wil touches on the frustrations associated with his acting career, his inability to distance himself from Ensign Crusher in the public’s eyes, the launch of his incredibly successful web site, wilwheaton.net, and the joy he’s found in writing. Through all of this, Wil shares the ups and downs he encountered along the journey, along with the support and love he discovered from his friends and family.
The stories in Just a Geek include:
- Wil’s plunge from teen star to struggling actor
- Discovering the joys of HTML, blogging, Linux, and web design
- The struggle between Wesley Crusher, Starfleet ensign, and Wil Wheaton, author and blogger
- Gut-wrenching reactions to the 9-11 disaster (Author’s note: I didn’t want to include that. I was pushed by the publisher, and I wish I’d pushed back.)
- Moving tales of Wil’s relationships with his wife, step-children, and extended family
- The transition from a B-list actor to an A-list author
Wil Wheaton–celebrity, blogger, and geek–writes for the geek in all of us. Engaging, witty, and pleasantly self-deprecating, Just a Geek will surprise you and make you laugh.
My friend Warren Ellis wrote a fantastic short story called Dead Pig Collector, and today I get to record the audio version of it. I’m not sure when it will be released, but if you wanted to hear me read you a new story, now you know that you can look for it in the Mysterious Future.
I was drivingparked on the 405 yesterday afternoon, taking 90 minutes to go 18 miles, because it would just ruin Los Angeles if we had useful and efficient public transportation. My brain wandered a little bit (to preserve my sanity, I presume,) and this book sprung into my mind.
I hadn’t thought about it in at least 20 years (probably closer to 30), but I could remember everything about it in an instant.
I loved Miss Nelson Is Missing when I was a kid, and I just wanted to share the nostalgiabomb with those of you who loved it, too.
My friend Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Freak Angels, Gun Machine) wrote a short story called Dead Pig Collector that is just fantastic.
“Dead Pig Collector” introduces readers to Mister Sun, a very proficient businessman whose trade is the murder and spotless removal of human beings. Like any businessman, he knows each transaction is only as good as his client—and today’s client, in Los Angeles, has turned out to be so dangerously stupid that Mister Sun’s work and life are now in jeopardy…
It’s available in the usual eBook stores and is only 99 cents.
If you like the works of Richard Kadrey, Joe Hill, or Charlie Huston, you’re going to love Dead Pig Collector.