I’ve been working on this book (a short story that turned into a novella that decided it wants to be a novel) for a few months, now. What I thought would finish up around 5000 words is on pace to end up a ten times that. I still don’t know if it all holds together, and I don’t know how much of it will survive the rewrite, but it’s been the primary creative focus of my life for a long time.
I recently hit a serious emotional beat in the story that affected me as much as it affected the characters, and I needed to get a little bit of distance from it, so I can come back to it and finish it by the end of the year. That was about a month ago, I guess. Maybe more like five or six weeks. Anyway, I had this other idea for a short, supernatural horror story on the board, so I started writing that, with the hope that I would finish it in time to be published before Halloween. That also took off and got a little longer than I had intended, but if I can focus and stay committed, I should finish the first draft by the end of this week.
I’m writing both of these things (and the other book of short stories they came out of) essentially on spec, because I don’t know if I’ll try to sell them to a publisher or self-publish them. Because of that, it feels like I don’t have a real job right now (and I know there are a lot of folks out there who will say that any kind of artist isn’t doing a real job anyway, and I’d like to invite them to fuck off).
There’s a fundamental rule for first drafts that I think I got from Stephen King: write it with the door closed. Don’t let anyone see it until it’s done, because it needs to be raw and broken and rough and even bad in places so that it can just get finished. Go ahead and open the door after the first rewrite. That’s solid and good advice that is one of my unbreakable rules, and it serves me well for staying motivated and giving myself the freedom to just get to work and write without judgement. But it’s also kind of lonely. It’s like performing to an empty theater.
Even though I’ve been productive and I’m making lots of stuff, I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with an audience for a long time, and I’ve missed that. So last night, I had this dumb idea to get onto my Twitch channel, read a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and ask the people who were watching to make the choices. We did Inside UFO 54-40 and The Race Forever. I think about 200 people showed up (not bad, considering the short notice), and holy hell did we have fun. It was this great community experience, and I liked it so much, I’m going to try to make it a regular thing.
So if you showed up last night, thank you. I needed the break from the fucking nightmare we’re all living in right now, and I got it. I hope you got it, too.
27 thoughts on “all the world’s indeed a stage”
OMG I had a great time last night with UFO 54-40. I happened to see you post on Twitter just as you were starting, and wow did that bring back memories.
And I’ll just leave this here….
Missed the Twitch broadcast, but if you happened to record it, it sounds like it would make for a great Radio Free Burrito.
Twitch saves broadcasts for 30 days so you can catch it here, should you wish: https://www.twitch.tv/itswilwheaton/videos/all
Thanks! I’m bookmarking it so I can watch at lunch tomorrow.
Yeah, that was hella fun! I’m so glad I was in my office when you tweeted about it so I could join in.
You talked about the lag; if you want to get a good feel for what works and what doesn’t, ping The Doubleclicks. They do a livestream show every month for over two years now, and they really have it down. They’ve mostly done Youtube but also tried twitch at least once.
This morning, I made a page-number map of the “Inside UFO 54-40” book. It’s interesting to see how deep the branches are and how many there are, and which ones are with which named characters. I’ll send it to you if you want.
Thanks so much, Wil. I look forward to doing that again.
(While you’re running around Ultima, don’t get distracted by the Edo, and watch out for the flowerbeds. 😉 )
Proud of you, Wil. Never stop. Never quit. And if I may quote Winston Churchill, Never, never, never give up. I’m glad you were able to have a good time.
#notmy41 That was the best time I’ve had on twitch in a long time! Can’t wait for the next one!
Dang, sounds like I missed out! I deactivated my twitter account and deleted it (boy do I feel great since doing that! The urge to get back on and see what I am missing out on is slowly fading away). I wonder if you wouldn’t mind announcing future events like that here or on your tumblr account?
Hello from South Africa, Wil! I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day of Nano. I’ve worked my butt off to finish my novel, and am so close. Totally relate to the closed door concept and the loneliness. Thank you for your posts, especially the ones about writing, they resonate.
Any sci-fi book with an illustration of the celebrated Easter Island monolith is a winner !
Its a great illustration except for that massive cigarette flying by and the burn holes above theirs heads.
The Twitch stream was great fun! Near the end I was wondering if you remembered the Endless Quest books and boom, you have them as well.
The only thing missing was the bell from Radio Free Burrito.
Oh wow that sounds like it would have been incredibly entertaining! I would love to participate if you do indeed do it again.
Due to the time difference I couldn’t watch live but I caught the saved video on twitch. Hope you’ll find the time to do another one.
I’m not sure the Choose Your Own Adventure books were translated into German, at least I didn’t know them but we had the translations of Steve Jackson (the Brit) and Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy books and then, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf books. The latter were my gateway into RPGs.
All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage
I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month. Well, I say I’m doing it: I lost the first half of the month to family and work, but since I haven’t had an acting gig of any sort in a couple weeks (and I’m NOT going crazy super antsy and wall-climby, who told you that? they sit on a throne of lies!) I’ve been trying to get some writing done.
It’s not going great. I’m not even at 15K words and it ends tomorrow. But it’s reminded me that I LIKE searching out prompts and seeing what makes me go “I have to write that scenario” and “This sentence has just given me the entire arc of the short story SCORE!” The stories are short, very short under 1K most of them, but I am really enjoying writing them. Some are weird and spooky and very Gaiman-esque and I’m debating sending ’em to some writing contests or short story publishers because they’re just kinda…good. And I’m often surprised when I write anything decent that isn’t fanfic, but these are just solidly original and good and I like them. pets their titles So I’m glad I let them come out to be told instead of just focusing on my Big Novel this month.
I’m also getting a few chapters into the Big Novel in this novel ‘verse I’ve been working in since…’10 or ’11. It’s been a day or two, basically. Anyway, I took a course on Hogwarts is Here and fulfilling those writing assignments completely changed the whole way I was telling the story. It’s not about a woman struggling to love again after her husband died. It’s about a woman who starts to fall in love with someone after her husband died and is FREAKED OUT because the husband was supposedly The One and what does that make this new love? The Two? True Love Part 2: The Revenge? It’s emotional and taken too much for life for my sanity and it’s coming slowly but… it’s coming. And taking a break between starting it and where I am now was 100% necessary to get the chapters the way they’re going at last.
I had a point, I promise (you probably know by now I’m a bit of a rambler and that’s when I’m not debating if a comment on a blog post should count towards my word goal…) Taking a break from writing is definitely good. Even if you’re still working on the puke draft, some time away from the puke is helpful, a lot of the time. I’m glad you’ve got other stories to focus on and are having fun on Twitch (I am, however, sad I missed it. I bet it was a time, my friend. grins). Writing can be hard and painful and frustrating, but the days it isn’t are the best days, am I right? 🙂
Choose your own adventure story time was the best! There must be more dammit! (Pretty please???) My favourite was your french guy accent. It was spot on french Canadian (Quebecois for the pc among us). Were you on purpose channeling Jean Chretien or was that an accident?
Anyway good luck with your writing. Anyone who thinks writing isn’t work has never tried it.
The statistics and mechanics of this sort of thing sometimes interests me. Wil reading this got me interested in this book in that way. In case anyone’s interested in that: I mapped out “Inside UFO 54-40” on paper, and did a tally of the endings.
There are 29 endings in all.
A breakdown by end result:
1 indeterminate reality where you end “reading a book”, almost as if you’re transported back off the UFO into a parallel reality, or not. That one’s tricky.
1 where the UFO (under your command) gets destroyed from outside
3 where the UFO is destroyed directory or indirectly because of computer malfunction
1 where the UFO’s computers are malfunctioning (and it might be being destroyed, or perhaps not) but you escape first.
Of the outcome where the UFO definitely survives:
7 outcomes have you imprisoned or in stasis on board
in 16 you end up safe back on earth.
of those 16:
– in one, your memory is erased, the other 15 you remember what happened.
– in 8 of the returns to earth, someone you collaborated with on board (sometimes human, sometimes not) ends up on earth too. Of those, 4 of the cases you’re likely to be able to talk to them again.
– of the 16 back-on-earth cases, in 5 of them you or your companion from the UFO are able to make a substantial contribution to human life on a large scale. Of those 5, two are because of the companion’s direct knowledge, and the other three are because you return to earth in command of the UFO itself.
One other breakdown: In most of the paths, your collaborate with someone on board the UFO (other than the U-TY). Angus (4 paths), Mopo (3), Bru (4), Incu and then Qally (6), Incu alone (4), and Kim Lee (5). There are 3 paths that don’t collaborate with anyone, including the path that ends at the dreaded 41.
Anyway, nowadays, that’s how I geek out about this stuff. Your mileage may vary.
i never really liked those books. i kept making the wrong decisions.
Wil, You are keeping me sane during an insane time! Most of the time I walk around in a daze trying to keep my spirits up. I LOVE your art!!! Art and Wil Wheaton will see us through a VERY difficult time. Thank you!!!
I was happy to see you streaming on Twitch. Hope you got something out of it as well. It would be a pleasure to see you do more.
Glad to have you back, matey.
I admire you.
(Okay, I totally deserve this one).
In all seriousness though, isn’t the Internet just a global Choose Your Own Adventure that never, ever, ever ends?
I think you just convinced me to finally join Twitch. Thanks for this and everything you do, Wil. You’re one of the good guys who helps give me hope when times are dark.
That is an awesome idea!!! I’ll definitely join in next time.
Comments are closed.