regarding confidence, compassion, and bullies

Last year, at Denver Comicon, I answered a question from a young woman who was having a hard time at school, because kids were being cruel to her. She asked me if I was ever called a “nerd” when I was in school, and how I handled it. Here’s my answer:

This seems to be going viral today, and made it to the top of the front page of Reddit yesterday, where her mother commented:

That was my daughter. She and the girl that bullied her are cool with each other this year. They aren’t in the same class, though. This year has been a good year, but she noticed another little girl in her class kept getting picked on by the other students. She became this girl’s friend and stands up for her when the other kids are being mean. We’ve talked about this moment a lot. After this panel, she paid to get her picture taken with Wil. He actually hugged her!

In the same thread, her father weighed in:

That was my daughter that asked that question. This was a magical moment for the whole family. What you might not get from the sound of all the applause is that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room after this. Mia met Wil again briefly at the Kansas city con this year, and he was as gracious and cool as you could have hoped. They talked about minecraft, ballet, mistakes, and silliness. Wil Wheaton, you are an honorary member of this family and I hope you know that you have made a real impact on Mia and the rest of us silly nerds. I wish you nothing but the greatest success. Oh yeah we love Tabletop too.

I’m so happy to learn that she and the girl who was mean to her have changed that relationship dynamic, but I’m so incredibly proud that she’s standing up against bullying with other kids in her school.

I really try my best to be the person I want other people to be. I don’t always succeed, but when I see things like this, and hear from people who have been touched or inspired by something I said or did in a positive way, it reminds me how important it is to do everything we can to be awesome.

Speaking of being awesome, please enjoy this picture of her that her mom put on Reddit last year.

UPDATE: via Medium.com, a transcript:

When I was a boy I was called a nerd all the time—because I didn’t like sports, I loved to read, I liked math and science, I thought school was really cool—and it hurt a lot. Because it’s never ok when a person makes fun of you for something you didn’t choose. You know, we don’t choose to be nerds. We can’t help it that we like these things—and we shouldn’t apologize for liking these things.

I wish that I could tell you that there is really easy way to just not care, but the truth is it hurts. But here’s the thing that you might be able to understand—as a matter of fact I’m confident you will be able to understand this because you asked this question…

When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves. They feel sad.

They don’t get positive attention from their parents. They don’t feel as smart as you. They don’t understand the things that you understand. Maybe one of their parents is pushing them to be a cheerleader or a baseball player or an engineer or something they just don’t want to do. So they take that out on you because they can’t go and be mean to the person who’s actually hurting them.

So, when a person is cruel to you like that, I know that this is hard, but honestly the kind and best reaction is to pity them. And don’t let them make you feel bad because you love a thing.

Maybe find out what they love and talk about how they love it. I bet you find out that a person who loves tetherball, loves tetherball in exactly the same way that you love Dr. Who, but you just love different things.

And I will tell you this — it absolutely gets better as you get older.

I know it’s really hard in school when you’re surrounded by the same 400 people a day that pick on you and make you feel bad about yourself. But there’s 50,000 people here this weekend who went through the exact same thing—and we’re all doing really well.

So don’t you ever let a person make you feel bad because you love something they decided is only for nerds. You’re loving a thing that’s for you.

I’m coming soon to a TV near you

At MegaCon, I announced that I’ve been developing a television show that I host, write, and produce. Here’s a little bit more about that show.

I can’t say which network it will be on, but the network picked us up for 12 episodes, and we’ll start airing in May. If everything goes according to plan, and they make a full order, I’ll be on your television almost every week for the rest of the year. This show is really funny, and I can’t wait to get permission from the network to talk about it in more detail. I heard today, though, that the network plans to make a formal announcement next week sometime.

Wednesday, I met with my entire staff of writers and producers, and I was blown away by the talent and brilliance of the team I’m going to be working with for the next three months (and hopefully the next few years). I wish I could talk about this in more detail, but until I get the go-ahead from the network, know this: For at least 12 weeks this summer, I’ll be coming into your home to share some funny and awesome stuff with you, and I’m really super excited for you to share the experience with me.

the return of the infamous clown sweater

Longtime readers of the blog are probably familiar with the Infamous Clown Sweater, and the strange role it’s played in my life for over ten years.

I don’t know what happened to the actual sweater, and I’ve never heard from its owner since that one fateful night at DNA Lounge so long ago, but for a few of us* it is a silly thing that makes us happy. It’s sort of an inside joke that we share, and I love that.

So, today at shirt.woot, you can get your own version of it, designed by me and my pal Rich Stevens. If you’re one of the few, you may want to pick one up. In fact, I hope you will, so that we can coordinate some massive picture at GenCon or something like that, where a bunch of us are wearing it … because people need help with their nightmares.

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*probably a few thousand, but still, a few

status

Hello, World.

I am not dead, I have just been very busy with the travel and the secret projects and etc.

I have many stories to tell, and they will be told as soon as I have the time to properly tell them.

Until that time arrives … COMMERCE!

The new Humble Bundle has a bunch of really great books, and one of them is mine! My book The Happiest Days of Our Lives is available in ePub and MOBI formats for the very first time, as part of this bundle.

You can also get Steven Gould’s JUMPER, the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology, Scott Westerfield’s Uglies, and even more.

The whole thing is pay-what-you-want, but if you pay at least $15, you will get the audio version of Cory Doctorow’s HOMELAND, read by me. I’ve done a lot of audiobooks in the last few years, and I can honestly say that this is one of my favourites. I’m intensely proud of the work we did on it, and I want everyone who enjoys my audiobook performances to hear it.

Okay, before I go help Anne with a thing, a picture of me being classy in a sequined bow tie:

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this is my script. there are many like it, but this one is mine

Wil Wheaton Big Bang Theory Script

On Wednesday last week, I picked up my script in my dressing room, and in the upper right corner, it said that the script was for Will Wheaton, playing the part of Will Wheaton.

I picked it up, and walked into the stage. I found one of the assistant directors, and told him, “I think there’s been a terrible mistake. I’ve been given someone else’s script.”

I showed him the name. He looked mortified. “Oh god I’m so sorry. We’ll fix that right away.”

I laughed. “It’s not a big deal, and I can fix it myself right now.” I grabbed a pen and turned the superfluous Ls into little boxes, like I’ve been doing my whole life. “I really don’t care. I just thought I could make a joke about it, and I’m easily amused, so…”

He laughed with me and apologized again.

“I’m not a prima donna,” I said, “and people have been doing this my whole life.”

He spoke into his walkie. “I have him here, and we’re walking.” He turned to me. “They’re ready for you, sir.”

We walked around the back of the stage and along the space that separates the audience from the set. Today, that space is filled with cameras and equipment, but on rehearsal days, it’s empty and quiet.

“When I was in grade school, I went to this really authoritarian parochial school, and they were all about conforming to the rules. One of my teachers — I’m pretty sure it was my third grade teacher — used the dreaded red pen to add an extra L to my name for the first few days of school, until I got really upset about it and asked her to stop.”

“Jesus, she really did that?”

“Yeah, it was not a particularly awesome time for young me.”

We arrived at Howard and Bernadette’s apartment. “So I learned early on that it’s important to not be too precious about it, and now it’s funny to me.”

Later that day, after our rehearsals were finished and the script was updated to reflect changes the writers made, I got a new script, and it was actually mine, because it had my name on it and everything.

We’re shooting some scenes without the audience today, because there are something like 16 scenes in this episode, and if we shot all of them in front of the audience, it would make for a very late night.

Tomorrow, we’ll shoot almost the entire show in front of the audience, including the scenes that I’m in, where I play Wil Wheaton. He’s just this guy, you know?

a few memorable moments on the set at big bang theory

A sharp knock on my door, seconds before it opened. The assistant director poked his head into my dressing room and told me they were ready for me on the stage.

I closed my book. “Here I go!”

We walked into the stage together, and I continued on into the set where we were rehearsing this particular scene. Kaley and Johnny were already on there when I sat down next to them.

“You should never take that hat off,” Johnny said to me.

I looked at him to see if he was being sincere, or giving me the business. Before I could figure out which one it was, he said, “it looks really good on you.”

I smiled. “You are one of my fashion heroes, so that really means a lot to me.”

Inside, I secretly felt cool for almost three whole seconds.

“I mean it,” he said.

“Thank you. That was very kind.”

Kaley dramatically put her script down. “WOULD YOU TWO GET A ROOM ALREADY?!”

I gave Johnny a sly look that he did not return. “Do you want to just sit on that couch together?” I asked.

We all laughed together, and the director called for quiet.

We ran the scene, and I killed a joke*. We ran it a second time, and I nailed the beats I needed to nail. I felt calm and focused and — for the first time I think, ever, since I started working on the show — like I really and truly deserved to be there. I’m not gonna lie to  you, Marge: it felt really good.

I thanked the director for the notes he gave me, and returned to my dressing room where I waited to be called back to the stage, to bring Evil Wil Wheaton (who is decidedly less evil than he used to be) back to life.

Later, I saw Melissa and Kaley waiting to run one of their scenes. “Let’s take a picture for the Internet,” I said.

“I really like that hat on you,” Melissa said.

“Thanks,” I said, “I was just lazy this morning and didn’t want to do my hair, because it’s just a tiny bit too long and I can’t get it to behave. But I’m getting compliments, which is pretty awesome.”

I held out my camera, and we took a silly picture that I put on Twitter.

The writers all came into the stage, and we ran the entire episode for them. Everyone laughed really hard in all the right places, and it’s pretty clear that this episode works. I can’t wait for the audience to see it on Tuesday, and I am so grateful that I get to be part of this wonderful experience.

 

*Note that this means I wrecked the joke, because I delivered the line poorly. This can be confusing to normal people who hear us talk about comedy, because when a joke works, we say that the joke “killed”. So: killing a joke is bad, but making a joke that kills is good.

Comedians are obsessed with death, I guess, or at least dying on stage.

midnight highway

The second song on the Kill Bill Volume 1 soundtrack is a fantastic rockabilly number called That Certain Female. It has this great thick guitar riff with a lot of echo and delay and, for me, it conjures up images of Route 66 under a new moon, windows down and radio blaring as a ’58 Chevy puts miles between its mysterious driver and Chicago as fast as he can lay them down.

This music fills the dark and bug-spattered spaces between Amarillo and Tucumcari, staccato white lines flashing by in the headlights, the smell of exhaust and old tobacco swirling with dust.

Is he running toward something or away from something? Or is it a she behind the wheel? What’s in the trunk? What’s in the backseat? When we see the driver’s eyes in the rear view mirror, briefly lit by the glowing cherry of a cigarette, are they determined? Resigned? Afraid? Tear-stained? Vengeful?

Maybe they are all these things.

The road goes on.

 

 

Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: The Record

Will Hindmarch is @wordwill, a writer and designer of games, fiction, and more. He blogs at Gameplaywright and wordstudio.net. 

This is both a plug and a confession. Wil Wheaton is back on dry land, so I’ll make this quick. I’m terrible at interviews.

Almost ten years ago, at the foot of an unfinished Atlanta high-rise, I interviewed architect Turan Duda for Atlanta magazine. My assignment was for a one-page spotlight on creative people doing exciting work in the ATL — one page including a picture of the skyscraper. So it was more like one column of text.

I kept Mr. Duda trapped in that interview for an hour.

We talked about spatial design, about his history and his vision, about Atlanta in general. It was a good talk for the first 35-45 minutes, before I realized how long we’d been talking. Before I realized, I didn’t know how to end an interview. (Spoiler: It’s easy. End it like a conversation, maybe.)

Mr. Duda was very generous, obliging, and impressive to this newbie interviewer. I learned a lot that day about architecture and interviews … and almost none of it helps me when I’m interviewed myself.

Interviews with me make me nervous, whether they’re in person or in text. I’ve done a few interviews lately for my new tabletop RPG, Dark. (The Kickstarter ends today!) I talked online with the Misdirected Mark podcast and I was interviewed via email for this piece at The Escapist. I ramble and I talk too fast and I’m concerned that I’ll say something — something insipid or casual or thoughtless — that will undo or overshadow a work that I’ve spent a long time crafting.

John Updike once put it like this to Terry Gross:

Once you’ve put yourself on record in an interview, and you’re sort of thinking fast and saying the first thing that pops into your mind, basically, anything to fill up the air time or the reporter’s time, it’s a little disconcerting, when you’re younger than I, to realize that these remarks which you toss off, once they’re in print, have an equal weight with all the words that you’ve labored to polish and make come out exactly right.

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Part of it, for me at least, is my Impostor Syndrome. Why should anyone be listening to what I think, right? Who the hell am I?

Here’s what helped me out: the live-lit storytelling scene. I co-produce a show in the Story Club series and we have an open-mic component to our events. It’s never been wasted. Everyone has stories to tell —  I’ve known that for a long time — and I think everyone should get a chance at a mic to talk about their passions, their projects, their past, and their plans. Some of these mics are mics, some of them are blogs, some of them are Twitter, some of them are cameras — whatever.

If you get the chance to tell your stories, take the chance. And if you get a chance to interview someone, to help them tell their stories, try it out. Ask your friends friendly questions. When you meet people, politely ask about them. Let’s get more stories told, more perspectives shared, and more voices at the mic.

It’s like what Wil did this week. He invited people to speak in his absence. He shared stories he might not have been able to tell on his own. Thank you, Wil.

Speaking of which, he’ll be back any minute and I’ve got to clean up. Think he’ll notice if I use his 3D printer to replace all the beer we drank?

 

50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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