Category Archives: blog

I wrote fan fiction for my job and got paid for it and everything.

A few months ago, an editor at IDW reached out and asked me if I’d be interested in contributing something to their 400th issue of the Star Trek comic. I told her I was VERY interested, but wasn’t sure how much time I had in my schedule.

I offered a few options, presented in order from easiest (and least desirable for me) to most time-consuming, but most exciting for me to do: I could give them an essay that already exists, I could write a short, new essay, or I could write an entire new story.

She was like, how about that new story?

So I pitched something, and told my team that I was going to be working on this for a couple of weeks. One of them wrote back that I didn’t have time to do this. I told them I was creating time out of thin air to work on it, because it was that important to me. And that’s what I did.

My pitch was accepted, and I set my brain upon the task of developing it. It came in little pieces, out of order, until I woke up in the middle of the night about a week in, with an idea that was orders of magnitude more interesting and challenging. I got out of bed, transcribed what my brain was delivering, and hoped it would make sense in the morning. When morning came, I saw the shape of it, and I saw The Thing that I really wanted to do, The Thing that makes the whole story worth writing. (For shorts, there is always A Thing I want to tell in the story, and that’s why I write it. When The Thing revealed itself to me, it happened to be about 4 in the morning. It happens like that pretty frequently.)

We had to get approval, but time was already short. So I got to work before I even had permission and hoped for the best. I was fortunate to get broad approval, and the notes ended up being about small things that didn’t affect the narrative arc.

So a lot of the process to bring this together was watching and consuming Star Trek (thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time) so I was steeped in the universe. Think of living abroad for so long, you have to relearn what your cultural and language norms are before you go home.

It was the most fun I have ever had writing something. From the very beginning, I just had fun. I didn’t second guess myself. I didn’t worry. I didn’t let my anxiety or the relentlessly critical inner voice of the man who was my father speak up and distract me. I worked hard and without fear, and it was the best thing, ever. I have no idea how this will be received by the audience. I hope other people like it as much as I do. But even if they don’t, I love this story and I loved writing it. That’s all I care about, and WOW let me tell you what an incredible feeling that is!

I’m so grateful I learned how to separate the joy of doing the work from the anxiety of how it will be received. The rest of this post is collected from daily posts I made on Facebook as I tracked my progress.

July 11

I am having the BEST time writing this thing that’s due on Friday. I love EVERY SECOND of this process, even the parts where I don’t feel like I’m making progress the way I want to. I’m still making progress, and I’m learning to embrace that process so I can enjoy it more.

I’ve been at it all day, and I want to keep writing SO MUCH, but I am just totally out of gas and it’s time to go play NHL 22.

I love this. I love this so much. I love being a writer and a storyteller. I am so grateful for this life.

July 12

It’s another day on this project that’s due Friday. I’m on pace to wrap up tomorrow, have Thursday to polish it, and turn it in on time.

I think I’ve overwritten it (I usually do) and I may have to lose a substantial chunk, but that’s cool with me. I’ve learned how to save things, how to let go of my original idea when the collaborative process begins and the work starts to develop into its own thing. It’s pretty great.

I’d love to keep going, but just now, in the middle of a sentence, I ran out of gas. It happens, and I’ve managed my time responsibly enough to go ahead and call it for the day.
I’m still having the best time doing this, and I’m super excited to release it into the world.

July 13

I’ve been working on this thing that’s due on Friday for about a month, but I didn’t start actually writing it until last week, because WOW HAVE I BEEN BUSY.

I just finished the first complete draft, and I’m walking away to let it breathe until tomorrow, when I’ll rewrite. I am exhausted, but this has been so much fun. It’s going to kill me when I have to cut at least half of it, but I’m actually going to make this deadline, like I’m an adult and a professional, and everything.

July 14

So that thing that’s due tomorrow? Finished it and turned it in a couple hours ago. For the first time in my career as a writer, I actually got something in AHEAD of a deadline.
It wasn’t easy. This morning, while I was working on rewriting, tightening it up, raising the stakes, and all that, I hit The Valley of Despair. This is a part of my creative process, very close to the end, when I feel like everything I’ve done is terrible, I’m the worst writer in the world, they’re all gonna laugh at me, and I should just give up and quit right now.

When that happens, I know I’m close to the end, but too close to be objective and see the words among all the letters. (This took many painful years to learn.)

So I reached out to a friend I respect deeply, who has EXTREMELY relevant experience, and asked for notes. They gave me notes, some INCREDIBLE ideas that I absolutely LOVED adding, and they got me across The Valley of Despair. Once I was on the other side, everything came together so effortlessly, it was kind of rude.

It’s so interesting to me that I can struggle for so long to see where the cuts need to happen, never seeing them, feeling like each precious bit is too precious to cut, right up until the moment they are all suddenly so obvious, I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote them, and I never miss them when they’re gone. I cut a lot of stuff today that I enjoyed making up and writing, but I don’t miss it at all. The story didn’t need it. I’ve heard some writers talk about that stuff as the scaffolding they use to hold the thing together while they work on it. I like that metaphor.

Maybe the Valley of Despair is what happens when I take the scaffolding down. That’s a neat metaphor, too.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get into details about this. Until then, I’m going to stay safely vague. But I’m super excited for this to be a thing in the world that all of you can read. It was really fun to imagine.

July 20

So I turned this thing in on Thursday last week, knowing it was overwritten and needed deep cuts that were going to hurt. That’s okay. It’s part of the whole creation process.

On Monday, I made some deep cuts. The manuscript sank into the swamp. Then I made more deep cuts yesterday. THAT sank into the swamp. I just finished ANOTHER round of extremely deep cuts today. If it follows, it will burn down, fall over, and sink into the swamp. BUT the next one will stay.

It’s fascinating to watch this happen in front of me. When I see the cut bits behind the green “cut this” suggestion thing, I REALLY miss them. But when I accept the cuts and read it all without the stuff I’ve cut, it still works and I don’t miss it at all. That is so WEIRD.

But it is so much fun, and so satisfying, to play with these toys. I still can’t believe I get to do this for my job.

Also, could someone get that guard a drink of water?

July 21

That thing I’ve been working on? That I couldn’t get specific about?

Well, now I can.

“IDW Publishing is celebrating 400 issues of Star Trek. This September, IDW will release the oversized Star Trek #400 one-shot featuring new stories from across the Star Trek universe. The stories include a brand new Star Trek: The Next Generation by series star Wil Wheaton, who recently reprised his role as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: Picard’s second season finale. “

I think this drops in September, around Star Trek Day. If you want to get one, tell your local comic shop so they can order it for you.

34 years ago today, 15 year-old me was at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see The Concert For The Masses.

34 years ago today, 15 year-old me was at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see The Concert For The Masses.

This concert was headlined by Depeche Mode, ending their Music for the Masses tour. They were my favorite band in the world at the time, so I was always going to go. But it wasn’t just DM. It was also Wire, OMD, and Thomas Dolby! I loved them all, and I couldn’t believe I got to see them all on the same stage, in person.

I could have bought really good tickets in the front section, if I’d thought about it. But 15 year-old me just wanted to be there, so I got tickets from the guy who drove the KROQ promotion van. I think we called him Doc on the Roc? Or Dan in the Van? Something like that. Anyway, I didn’t even have my tickets when I got there. I just got lucky and saw Dan or Doc or whoever he was, and he gave me a paper ticket.

Just think about that. You’re 15, alone, surrounded by thousands of people, and you just happen to be at that one entrance at the exact time the guy who you’re counting on to get you into the venue is there. And this is before cell phones or even pagers were widely available. I marvel at how lucky I got then, not knowing how lucky I was going to get later in the evening.

It was early in the afternoon when I went into the venue. The tickets I had were as far away from the stage as you could get while still being inside the Rose Bowl, near the top of the stadium. Hold your hand out as far as you can, and look at your thumb. GEE YOU’RE DUMB (sorry. couldn’t resist).

The band members on the stage were smaller than my thumb, and they sounded like they were in another county. So I looked around at all the empty seats and just started walking toward the stage. I figured I’d go as far as I could, until someone stopped me.

I got all the way down to like the second section, when I began to feel like I was flying too close to the sun. I tucked myself between a couple of seats, and watched Wire DESTROY that place. Their single at the time was Kidney Bingos. Kidney Dingos? Dingos. Dingoes. Point is, it was a different style than the Wire I knew from Pink Flag, but they still rocked so hard. And in the afternoon, too.

Next up was Thomas Dolby. I loved him because he was a nerd just like me. And Golden Age of Wireless had been on heavy rotation in my Walkman for years. His album at the time was Aliens Ate My Buick, which I loved for all the nerdy weird reasons so many of us still hold dear.

When he finished, it was starting to turn to dusk. The seats started filling up. The Rose Bowl started to feel like a stadium. While I waited for OMD, I stupidly made eye contact with one of the security dudes, who immediately made me as a kid who did not have a ticket for the seat he was in. He started toward me, so I got up and walked … I guess “away from that dude” was my direction. After a minute had passed and I hadn’t been yanked out of the frame by the back of my shirt, I glanced back and saw that he’d returned to his … post? What do you call it when you’re a security dude at a concert? I’m going to call it his post, and won’t bring it up again.

I made my way off the field, up some stairs, and found another empty seat a few rows up, where I watched OMD’s set. They were everything I hoped they would be. I hadn’t owned any of their albums to that point, but I knew all of their songs because of Kara (she’s also how I knew Wire). I remember it getting dark while they played, and by the time they finished their set, there were easily over 50,000 people in the venue, with more pouring in every minute.

It felt like a long time before Depeche came on, much longer than it was between sets for the openers. I’m just now remembering that I didn’t eat or drink anything because I didn’t want to lose this great not-my-seat I’d managed to occupy, probably about 100 feet from the stage, which is REAL close in a stadium. So I just stayed there and waited. Again, this is before cell phones so I didn’t have Instagram to scroll through or any of the things we take for granted today. I just sat there for what felt like an hour, looking around and waiting.

The way I remember it, there wasn’t a sense in the air that the band was about to take the stage. Just, one second everyone was talking and stuff, and then BAM all at once the lights shut off with what felt like a crash. Before we knew what was happening, PIMPF began to play in the darkness. People held up lighters, and the music got louder and louder and louder until it was almost unbearable, this intense piano phrase, ominously repeating until it felt like the walls were going to come down on top of us. It ended as suddenly as it began, the last note ringing out as the crowd roared.

We filled that darkness with our voices and our primal energy, pushing the walls back up, defying them to contain us. The lights on the stage exploded into life, and there they were, my favorite band in the world. It turned out that this crowd could roar even louder, then.

In my memory, they played Behind the Wheel first. I don’t know if that’s correct, but in honor of 15 year-old me, I’m not going to check. What I do remember is not very long into the set, a fucking storm showed up out of nowhere, filled the sky with lightning and rain for a couple songs, and then blew out just as fast.

I can’t recall what the song was. Some fans are adamant that it was “Sacred”, while Richard Blade says it was “Blasphemous Rumors”. Either way, the religious overtones of both songs were enhanced substantially by the freak cloudburst. It was just one of those random coincidences that made an already amazing thing that much more special.

After the rain (what’s up, Dokken fans? I see you. Nice fringe jacket.) I got busted. Whoever had paid for the seat I was in showed up to claim it, and while I was doing my best to find a new place to sit, a security dude nailed me.

But check this out. He looked at me and said, “are you Wesley on Star Trek?” and I was like, “Uh, yeah?” And he said, “Where’s your seat?”

I didn’t even try to pretend. I showed him my ticket.

“Okay, come with me,” he said, and walked me up the steps toward the concourse. I could hear the concert happening without me, and I was pretty sure I was getting kicked out of the Rose Bowl.

But he ended up taking me to the press box. He told me that these were great seats, nobody was using them, and I could sit anywhere. “You’re a really good actor,” he said, before he left.

Everything Went Better Than Expected dot JPEG.

I watched the rest of the concert from the front row of the press box. It wasn’t as cool as being 100 feet from the band, but the view was pretty great, and I had permission to be there.

I think they finished with Master and Servant. It was that or … Never Let Me Down Again? I can’t remember for sure. Again, 34 years ago and looking it up is cheating.

So we all knew the encore was coming, but this really weird night was about to get even more weird. I was looking out at 60,000 people holding lighters up, chanting, screaming, cheering, building the energy we would release when the band came back onstage … when the brightest, harshest, florescent lights in the universe came on in the press box. The couple dozen people in it all turned as one to yell at whoever turned them on to turn them back off … and it was my history teacher from 9th grade.

I didn’t know then that we paid teachers such appalling wages it wasn’t uncommon for them to work multiple jobs, so it was as shocking as the brightness of the light to see her in a Staff Pro jacket. I remember she looked confused, I heard someone say the encore hadn’t happened, I watched her shrug, and the lights turned back off. I didn’t see her again, which, based on how awkward I feel remembering it now, is probably for the best.

The band came back and played a couple of songs, finishing as they always did with Everything Counts.

Math says it’s unlikely any of you reading this were also at this show. But if you were, you know what an experience it was to sing along with 60,000 people, filling up the entire Rose Bowl and beyond with our voices. It felt magical. I can feel the vibration in my bones, 34 years later.

After the show, that area where I’d miraculously run into Dan the Van (I really hope that’s correct because what a great name) was a boiling mass of sweaty, post-concert humanity. I got overwhelmed and lost in it real quick, and I couldn’t find the car that was supposed to take me home. As I began to panic, I saw a familiar face: Richard Blade, who most of you know from Sirius XM, was my friend. He was the afternoon DJ on KROQ. An absolute legend in Los Angeles. A guy who knew EVERYONE you cared about in music. And what a kind human! Richard patiently let me sit in the studio all the time, because he knew I wanted to be a DJ, It was so massively inappropriate that I went there, almost every day after school at Paramount, but I didn’t know any better and nobody ever told me I couldn’t, so.

I saw Richard, and I guess he saw how panicked I was because he walked over to me immediately. He asked if I was okay, and I told him I couldn’t find my car to get home.

So Richard Blade offered to give me a ride. I think he was with his wife? I can’t remember exactly who it was, but they took me home like that had been the plan all along.

And all of that happened 34 years ago, today. Wild.

Recovering from trauma is hard work. You are worth it.

Here are two recent podcasts I’ve been on to talk about Still Just A Geek, beginning with Radically Loved:

The Long, Challenging, But Worthwhile Healing From Trauma

Each person you have encountered, whether at work, out on the street, or a bus, is hurting in their own way. Everyone has been through a painful and traumatic experience. Although you have no control over what already happened in the past, you do have control over how you heal. Healing is rarely easy⁠—it’s tricky, messy, and scary, but it’s possible.

In today’s episode of Radically Loved, Wil Wheaton shares the trauma that he experienced growing up and how he was able to heal from it. He talks about his struggles during his healing from trauma and what you can do to also work through yours. Listen as Wil takes you along his journey so that you can also heal and find radical love as he has.

If you’re struggling with trauma and looking for healing, this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Find out how to confront your pain and trauma by reflection and writing.
  2. Learn how to free yourself from toxicity and undergo healing from trauma through communication, therapy, and reading.
  3. Discover how to break generational trauma with an authoritative parenting style.

I just loved this conversation.

I also spoke with Live Happy about mental health:

Wil Wheaton burst into the spotlight in 1986 in the iconic coming of age movie Stand By Me. He went on to play many more roles throughout his teen and young adult years, including starring as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation and playing a version of himself on the hit TV show, The Big Bang Theory. But his success hid a childhood filled with trauma and abuse that led to a lifetime of depression, anxiety and complex PTSD. In his new memoir, Still Just a Geek, Wil opens up about his life and explains how he came to grips with his past. This week, he talks about why it’s so important to him to talk openly about mental health.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What led Wil to revisit his life in his new memoir.
  • How writing the book helped him find empathy and compassion for his younger self.
  • Why it’s so important for him to normalize the conversation around mental health.

yes, i was forced to be a child star. it was never my dream or my idea.

CW: Child abuse, self-harm, suicide.

I did this interview for Access Hollywood that aired yesterday. In this interview, I told my whole truth, like I have before, about the things I have survived. When Access Hollywood told me they’d have to reach out to my parents to get a comment, I told them I understood and respected their journalistic integrity. I also told them that my parents would lie, that my mom would say “I’m shocked! I had no idea!” and that she’d claim we were such a close family it’s all just a huge surprise. Also she would say something about how angry I am.

That’s exactly what she did. They are nothing if not predictable.

I was thinking about this huge lie my mother tells herself and the world, last night. The big lie that she didn’t force me to become a child actor when I was seven, that it was all my idea. The last few weeks have been challenging for me, while I promote and talk about Still Just A Geek, surviving abuse and neglect, and constantly revisiting painful, traumatic parts of my life. It’s kind of like picking at a wound that’s doing its best to heal, right? You don’t rip the scab all the way off, but you’re still poking at it. So I was just kind of unwinding things in my head, like I do, and I remembered that when my mom took me to my first audition, it was actually her audition. She brought me along to be her scene partner. I CLEARLY recall feeling like I wasn’t supposed to be there, and that she was springing me on casting at the last minute. “This is my son and we can do it together” or something like that. I was a sweet kid, full of energy and enthusiasm. I wanted everyone to be proud of me, so I took direction extremely well. I don’t know if it’s true, but I recall being told over the years by the casting people that I crushed that audition, that day. Those same casting people loved this kid, who they were going to bring in all the time. My mom and I booked the commercial, together.

Relatively soon after we shot that commercial, she made me to go her commercial agency and tell the children’s agent, “I want to do what mommy does,” which she has lied to herself about for 40 years. I clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table at our house in Sunland, while she coached me on how the meeting was going to go. She played the agent and I was me. She gave me commercial copy to practice. She coached and prepped me and I went along with it because I WAS SEVEN. (I had lunch with my childhood agent about three years ago. I asked her specifically about that day, and she remembered that I was very good at reading the copy, I had clearly been coached and prepared, and she told my mom that she’d send me on a couple auditions to see how it went. After that, I rarely talked to the agent directly.)

I can’t remember specifically when I first said “I just want to be a kid,” but I can still see the late 70s smog, and smell the exhaust all around us as I begged her for what feels like years to stop making me do this, while we sat in traffic on the freeway after school, going to and from auditions, day after day after day. Once, in my teens, I was trying to talk with her about that, trying to understand why she didn’t hear me, and she said “I always let you book out when you wanted to take a break,” which is a weird choice of language if it was all my idea and something I really wanted to do so much. Also, I never once — never once — asked to go back and audition again. But after some period of time, she ALWAYS pressured me to go on auditions again until I gave in.

I’m 8 in this picture. Imagine ignoring this little boy when he begs you to stop making him go to work.

None of that supports her lie that it was all my idea. I mean, that’s unsurprising because it’s a lie, but she was so good at manipulating and gaslighting me, I spent some considerable time in my life trying to convince myself that it was true. I did EVERYTHING I could to make myself believe it was true, because I wanted to be seen and loved and accepted in my family and that was the only way I knew how.

The other big lie she tells herself is that we were this extremely close, tight-knit family. I know she desperately wants to believe that. I know she worked harder than anything else at presenting that image to the world. It just is not true. I know from relatives and people who were part of my childhood that other adults could not stand my parents. They saw exactly who and what they were, especially how manipulative my mother was. Our family was not close. We were cloistered. There’s a huge difference, but to a self-absorbed, controlling, narcissist, it’s the same thing.

The thing about this particular lie is that, if we were this tight-knit family, how could she be shocked and have no idea that her husband was relentlessly bullying me? How could it be a shock to her, after she made me apologize to him the few times I stood up for myself? How could she be shocked and have no idea that I didn’t want to be an actor, when I literally BEGGED HER FOR YEARS after she forced me to start, to just let me be a kid? She’s only shocked because she was so self-absorbed she chose to ignore the pain she was inflicting on her son. On her child. On me. When I was 7 years-old. She has no idea because she deliberately looked the other way whenever I was in pain or I needed her to show up for me as my mother. She’s shocked and had no idea because she chose to replace what was actually happening in my life and our family with a giant lie.

I know she needs these lies she tells herself to be true, because they are the foundation she built her entire life upon. If she has to accept that she traded her child away so she could be popular, or at least be close to popularity, if she has to accept that she heard her seven year-old child BEGGING, “Mommy, please let me be a kid. I just want to go home and play with my friends,” and dismissed that because it got in the way of what she wanted for herself, I don’t think she could handle it.

Please let me be a kid.

Here is the saddest part of all: I told all of my truth to Access Hollywood. I told the same truth I’ve been telling for years. The part my mom got upset about and pushed back on is her big lie that she didn’t force me to be an actor. Not the abuse I endured. Not their theft of the money I earned. Not the exploitation they allowed. Not the physical and psychological abuse she witnessed firsthand when she made me and my sister do The Curse. The thing she was REALLY upset about is having to answer for the fundamental choice she made when she forced me to become a child actor. Just that one thing. The lie she built her whole life on. That’s the thing she lost her shit about. Not that she was so unavailable, and my dad was so cruel to me, that I seriously contemplated killing myself more than once when I was in my teens. She didn’t care about that. And he had no comment. Because that’s about me and my pain, not something they can make about themselves where they are the victims or whatever.

It’s been clear for as long as I can remember that my mom and my dad don’t feel bad or anything about how much they hurt me, or how much their choices affected my life. My dad doesn’t care at all, and never did. My mom is just embarrassed that her lies are being exposed, and that the story she’s told people about herself is threatened. Well, if you don’t like the true story … maybe you could have written it differently.

In Still Just A Geek, I directly address my mom. I try, once more, to somehow get her to hear my truth, but “the woman I knew for 46 years is probably working hard on her victim narrative right now,” and that seems to be accurate. And ultimately, what choice does she have? If my mom admits to herself that she forced me to do all of this, even when I literally BEGGED her to stop, she would have to take an honest look at her entire life. When I told her “I want you to be my mom and not my manager,” she said, “I can’t believe you would take that away from me.” Again, not exactly the sort of thing you say when you’re supporting your son who really wants to do this because it’s his idea.

I don’t want to go on another audition. I want to go home and ride my bike. Please just let me be a kid.

She stole my childhood from me, so she could feel popular. To be honest, I’m relieved she feels embarrassed and maybe even some shame, because at least it means that, somewhere in her alcoholic brain, she knows what she did to me. She knows that I put up with all of it, silently and alone, for my whole life. And when I couldn’t endure that any longer, when I tried as hard as I could to work through all of this with her and my dad, all they had were excuses, deflections, accusations, and absolutely no interest in actually participating in my recovery. So I made the choice to live the rest of my life without her and my dad and my brother in it. They can be who they are and live the lie they need to believe about me, without my presence inconveniently reminding them that none of it is true. (Sidebar: I’ve spoken with multiple professionals who have affirmed to me that children can grow up in the same house and have profoundly different experiences with their parents. This is particularly true when there is a Golden Child and a Scapegoat. Of course my brother is close to our parents. They poured nothing but love and affection and support into his life from the day he was born. They are kind and loving grandparents to my nephew. That doesn’t make the way they treated me untrue.

~

Real quick: there’s a lot in this post and I want to take a moment here to tell you that if you’re hurting, there are wonderful people who are waiting RIGHT NOW to help you. I didn’t know that when I was suffering the most. I also didn’t have instant (and private) access to resources and professionals online to counsel me via my phone or laptop or whatever. I can’t tell you how to approach your journey, but I can show you two places you can start: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/ or https://nami.org/Home

On Wednesday, I’m having a conversation about mental health that’s free to everyone

For as long as I can remember, when I’ve said “Hey, I’m doing an event in this place, and I’d love for you to come,” the Internet has said some version of “come to my place and do an event here”.

On Wednesday, from 5pm to 6pm PDT, I will have a mental health conversation with Katrina DeBonis, MD. Dr. DeBonis is Associate Health Science Clinical Professor, Director of Residence Education in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and Medical Director of UCLA Student Behavioral Health Services UCLA Health. (I know right? She’s fancy!) Our conversation is part of a series sponsored by The Friends of the Semel Institute for neuroscience and human behavior at UCLA to discuss mental health, childhood trauma survival, and my book Still Just A Geek.

This conversation is open to everyone in the world, for free. All you need to do is register, and show up Wednesday.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear me speak in public, here is your incredibly easy chance! I hope you’ll join us.