Category Archives: Just A Geek

still just a geek: an (annotated) memoir

 

I wrote a book in 2004 called Just A Geek. Literally dozens of people read it, and a lot of them seemed to like it, but I have felt for years that it’s just been forgotten by pretty much everyone. About two years ago, I wrote a novel, and got it as close to finished as I could. My agent shopped it, and it was universally rejected. Like, it was so rejected, nobody even gave us notes on how to make it better. They were just, like, “NOPE.” I think it’s a neat little story, but clearly capital-P Publishing disagrees. Not gonna lie. I was devastated. But one of those editors remembered Just A Geek. He was also familiar with the writing I’d done since then, my mental health advocacy, and my story of surviving narcissistic abuse and neglect. He had this idea to revisit Just A Geek, annotate it, and include some more recent writing. The whole thing would go together and be an annotated memoir.

So I’ve worked on that for about two years, and today we get to announce that it’s a thing.

My publisher and I have this fantastic plan to do an awesome video announcement for the upcoming release of Still Just A Geek, my annotated memoir, which comes out April 12 in America, and 14 April in the UK.

I had this plan to maybe read a little of it, do some cool video stuff, and be fancy. And then I realized it’s Thursday, which is when all the gardeners come into my neighborhood, and the cacophony of leaf blowers and lawnmowers is just a little too much. I also have a ton of Star Trek: Discovery homework to do for Ready Room tomorrow, and holy crap I suddenly have more things to do than I have hours to get them done.

So that great video idea will be delayed for a little bit. It’ll still happen, I just don’t know when.

Am I just killing it with this book announcement or what? This is how you go viral and get lots of free media attention, y’all.

Really important stuff I want you to know:

I went through the entire text of Just A Geek, and annotated all of it. I feel like I’m only supposed to focus on the stuff I did that’s great, but … well, here’s a little bit from my introduction:

“Many times during the process, I wanted to quit. I kept coming across material that was embarrassing, poorly-written, immature, and worst of all, privileged and myopic. I shared all of this with my editor, my wife, my manager, my literary agent, and anyone else in my orbit who I trusted. “This really ought to be buried and forgotten in that landfill with the E.T. cartridges,” I told them. “Digging it all back up is not going to go well,” I said. They all assured me that confronting and owning that stuff in public, something I’d done privately, was important. I had to confront the parts that still fill me with shame and regret.”

So I did that, and it was uncomfortable, embarrassing, awkward, but ultimately healing and surprisingly cathartic. You may have noticed that I’ve spent much of the last several months remembering and writing about childhood trauma. Now you know why.

I also wrote

“I’m going to be honest: I’m terrified that I didn’t say the right things, take away the right lessons, atone appropriately for the parts of this that are gross. I know that I am not the person I was when I thought it was funny to make a childish, lazy, homophobic, joke. I am not the same person who didn’t even consider that a young woman, doing her job, was worthy of respect and kindness, because she was more useful to my male gaze as a character in a story that isn’t as good as I thought it was. I know I’m not that person, because those things—which are a small but significant part of my origin story—revolted me when I read them for the first time in over a decade. I mean, I physically recoiled from my own book. Those moments, and the privilege and ignorance that fueled them filled me with shame and regret. They still do. But confronting and learning from them allowed me to complete my origin story, as it turns out. It’s another thing I was unaware I needed to do, but, having done it, cannot imagine not doing.”

That’s the first … I don’t know, half, maybe two thirds, of this volume. The rest is new essays and speeches I’ve written in the last few years, which are also annotated.

If it all holds together the way I hope it does, it should tell a story of surviving childhood trauma, surviving a predatory industry, and in the most unexpected way, finding out exactly who I am, versus who I always thought I was supposed to be.

I hope it’s inspiring. I hope it’s entertaining. I hope it doesn’t suck. As you can tell, I am terrified.

I will be doing the audiobook, OBVIOUSLY. It will be released at the same time the print and ebook copies are released. We’re working on a plan to offer signed copies through indie bookshops. We’re talking about a virtual press tour. I’ll give you all more information as it gets locked in.

Finally, we have made a page where you can pre-order right now. Just pick the appropriate link.

Okay. That’s it. That’s the big news. Please tell all your friends.

Previews

I used to be a big fan of South Park. I watched it every week, and anxiously awaited new episodes.
When I heard that they were making a movie, I was thrilled, and counted down the days until it opened. Of course, while the creators poured all their creative energy into the movie, the weekly content of the TV show suffered dramatically. It felt like filler with no creative soul, and I stopped watching.
So it is with WWDN as of late.
All of my creative energy and focus has gone into rewriting “Just A Geek,” and racing to get it done in time for a late March release.
I love WWDN, and really enjoy writing for it, but I have limited resources in my head, and when I have to pick, the website takes a back seat to the book. I hope readers understand.
Having said all that, I’d like to offer a small excerpt from the book, so you can all see what I’ve been working on.
This is from Chapter three:

Writing about the satisfaction and love I felt when I was with my family came very easily. I didn’t have to put on a brave face, or risk revealing how frustrated and tormented I was in my career. When I focused on my family, I felt liberated, and found humor and happiness at every turn.
28 August, 2001
Romper Stomper

From an e-mail I got this morning:
Wil:
I’m writing a book about Romper Room and came across a TV appearance of you on a California show with Miss Nancy. You told the hosts you used to watch Romper Room ?religiously.”
I’m writing to people who were on the show, or who watched the show, to get their impressions of Romper Room. I’m hoping you can answer some questions. What made you watch it? What’s your strongest memory of the program? Were you ever on Romper Room?

My response:
I was never on ?Romper Room”, but here is my clearest memory from watching it as a kid:
I would sit on the floor of our house (which was really a chicken coop behind my grandparents farmhouse. Yes, we were that poor), my fingers dug deeply into the golden shag carpeting, my tiny fists balled with anticipation, as Miss Nancy would hold up her magic mirror and ask it to tell her, ?did our friends have fun at play?? I would sit up straight, stare into the glorious black-and-white 13-inch Zenith TV and wait patiently as she saw Steven and Jody and Tina and Todd and Michael and every-fucking-body except WIL! Hey! Miss Nancy! I’m sitting right here! I’ve had LOTS of fun at play! I did the DooBee dance! I ran around pretending I was a fireman! I HAD FUN AT PLAY! WHY CAN’T YOU SEE ME?! AM I INVISIBLE?! *pant* *pant*
I never watched TV shows like the ones I did when I was four. Jesus, does anyone?

Writing that made me laugh out loud. I hadn’t planned on it turning into a rant, but I was doing lots of improv at the time, and I just wrote what came out of my head. I thought it was really funny, so I called my mom as soon as I was done to read it to her. When she picked up the phone, I could hear wind chimes and a waterfall. She was gardening in her backyard.
“Hey, it’s your son,” I told her.
“Hi Willow! How are you? Are you feeling better?” My mom always sounds happy to hear from me, and her voice is comforting — like a warm blanket, fresh from the dryer.
I was able to answer truthfully. “Yes, much. I wrote something funny for my website and I wanted to read it to you.”
“Oh, honey! That’s great! Let me turn off the hose.” I heard her set the phone down, and I closed my eyes, picturing their backyard: the beautiful redwood deck my dad and brother built, covered with potted flowers and tomato plants, the railing draped with white twinkle lights. I heard the jingle of their dog Kona’s collar, as she chased a butterfly, or the water falling from the hose. I saw water cascading into their swimming pool, and recalled the long summer afternoons spent floating in that pool, and the warm summer nights I spent as a teenager sitting in their spa, looking up at the stars. I breathed in, and I could smell the star jasmine which still grows under my old bedroom window.
“Wil? Did you hang up?”
“No, sorry. I was . . . lost in thought. Can I read you what I wrote?”
“Yes!”
I told her about the e-mail I’d gotten, and read her my response. I paused dramatically, and lowered my voice for the final sentence. I eagerly awaited her response.
“Oh, Wil,? she said, ?why do you need to have such a potty mouth?”
I resisted the urge to tell her that I had no fucking idea.
“It’s comedy mom, and it’s not always pretty.”
“Well, it’s very funny. I just wish you didn’t have to cuss so much.”
I beamed, knowing that I’d made my mom laugh, and — more importantly — made her feel proud of me.
“I gotta go answer emails, mom. I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetie. Bye-bye.”

Libros Muchos

I spent almost six hours on the phone with my editor, going over the entire 2.0 draft of my book. I was up until just past 2 a.m., and I am dazed this morning.
But I am so happy! For the past few weeks, I’ve been wondering if it was any good, and felt that there were many places that needed lots of work. Being able to talk with him as we went through it page by page made all the difference: we cut several chapters that just didn’t need to be there, generally tightened up the entire thing, and restored my confidence.
Speaking of books, my good friend Cory Doctorow’s book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom has finally been published! Congratulations, Cory! I read his book last summer, and it’s one of the best SF books I’ve ever seen. I’m hoping to write a review of it before the end of next week.
Anne loved writing in the weblog, and appreciated everyone’s comments. We may just have to get her a weblog of her own.
Thought For Today:

“Some people are like big children, harming others without even seeing it. Staying angry with these fools is like being mad at fire because it burns.”

%d bloggers like this: