The first half of this book is my 2004 memoir, Just A Geek. I’ve heavily annotated and reflected on who I was and what I wrote in the early aughts for that book. These footnotes are almost-50 me talking about the experiences of almost-30 me, with the benefit of twenty years in between us. he second half is essays and speeches I’ve written in the last handful of years. If I did this right, you will hopefully see how I grew and changed as a person, and as a writer.
Industry professionals tell me this level of annotation and reflection is kind of a new thing for memoirs, and I wanted to offer a suggestion that may help ease you into the whole experience.
I suspect it will help if you imagine that we are sitting in a room together, and I am just telling you my story. I’m reading to you from the book I wrote 20 years ago, occasionally looking up to reflect on it.
Finally, a content warning. I talk a lot about my traumatic childhood. I talk about experiencing abuse, neglect, and exploitation. A lot of that was incredibly hard for me to read for the audiobook, much more challenging than it was to write. I need you to know that this book gets raw, vulnerable, and intense in a few places. If any of that sounds like it could be difficult for you, I want you to know ahead of time, so you can be prepared.
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.
63 thoughts on “still just a geek: an (annotated) memoir”
Book preordered. I’ve enjoyed your inspiring writing since a blog post I read in 2002. I’ve discovered a lot of great people thanks to you and I can trace everything I love doing today to that initial blog post. All these years later I’m still a grateful fan. Thanks.
Wil, I have kicked myself for years for not buying “Just A Geek” and “Dancing Barefoot” so I’m not losing this chance. Thank you!! I also would like a signed copy.
Ooo this looks interesting!! I’m glad I came across this 🙌
I came to a recent post of yours to share this book with you. I have not read it but wondered if you have. and, if not, it might be helpful.
“The Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Dealing with Toxic People: How to Reclaim Your Power from Narcissists and Other Manipulators,” by Shahida Arabi (2020, New Harbinger).
I do not know if I am ready to read it. I am 45 and am just realizing that I attract bullies and I am trying to understand why.
That said, I love this post. Your statement on kindness reminded me of Last Midnight from Into the Woods. The witch wants to sacrifice Jack to the giant in order to save the town, which the townspeople refuse to do.
“You’re so nice. You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice. I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right. I’m the witch. You’re the world.”
I am not generally a nice person, except when greeting a human customer. I am a dog groomer. I am KIND to the dogs. I am trying to learn to be kind to humans. I don’t really understand yet, but I thank you deeply for sharing your knowledge.
By the way, I read your blog even before you moved to wilweaton.net . You replied to a couple of my comments, not many. I feel that I may have insulted you about your appearance on CSI. I’m sorry if I did. Once I joined Facebook, I lost track of you. I don’t use Twitter, so I missed those years. It sounds like it was a good thing I missed it, and Twitter was cruel to you.
I have learned a lot about myself since you started writing on Facebook for real.
Thank you, you’re a frood.
I still think SpongeBobVega$ Pants is the best name for a chapter in the history or literature. I can’t wait to see your new take on one of the last books I actually purchase in print (and hard back too!).
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