Archive for category Wil Wheaton
Those that know me should not be too surprised by the fact that I read Wil Wheaton’s blog. I have, for years, actually. He recently gave a talk at the University of Miami-Ohio, and shared the text… it’s worth reading, sharing, even carving on clay tablets if that’s your thing.
Here’s a snippet:
We’re all in this together, you guys, and I want you all to be the most awesome hero you can be in your own story … and I don’t want you to be the villain in someone else’s.
Life’s too short to be Voldemort.
Now go read the rest. You can thank me for pointing you there later.
There’s a video that has been circulating, that Wil Wheaton featured in a blog post, of some advice that was asked of him at a recent convention.
While specifically about being a “nerd”, the heart of the message is something that any parent can appreciate. Which is why I’m sharing, as much for others to find as for me to have and share with my son when he’s older.
Wil Wheaton, that is. He’s a geek. He owns it, and anyone that has an inkling of a clue about me knows that somewhere there are all sorts of geek bits in my DNA. But that’s not it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg that led me to seek him out in the early days of the internet, wondering “Whatever happened to…?” That was driven by my interest in both Stand by Me and, of course ST:TNG. I didn’t visit his site regularly in those days. No, that didn’t actually start happening until maybe six years ago.
And here’s why I keep going back, and why I think many of my fellow Seton Hill people or Viable Paradise crew should to (if their not already) – or anyone else, for that matter, that may be into writing. In many ways, many of us are in the same boat in terms of writerly XP – working on that first novel. Sure, he’s got more publishing credits in a variety of forms – but none of them are novel length.
Then he drops little things like this:
I realized that I have all the tools I need to write stories of any length, even if the longer stories are outside of my comfort zone… I know how to write a novella or even a novel, but I’ve been afraid to try it and fail. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying that, at any moment, Carrie’s mom will spring out of the closet, covered in knives and shriek at me, “THEY’RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU!!”
Which strikes to the core of something that has been a major thing for me the last few months, a little soul searching and self-appraisal as far as my own writing goes.
I read Wheaton’s blog because in addition to his geek/acting stuff, he is a writer, just as insecure as the rest of us, and still near the start of his own (prose) writing career. And I wish him well.
I saw this the other day, and it made me think about the movie. My first thoughts, the writer in me can appreciate it (and it’s my go to piece for saying, “See, Stephen King DOES write more than really scary, creepy stuff,” followed closely by Shawshank Redemption. In fact, when I found out it was based on a King novella I was shocked, since I was of an age that only knew him from Carrie, Cujo and Salem’s Lot [among his other early 80’s novels]. SBM can be considered my gateway to reading King since, upon making that discovery, I picked up a paperback copy of Different Seasons just to read “The Body.”).
But it was my emotional reaction to the film, the first time that I watched it all the way through, that prompted my thoughts for this post… I cried, one of the few movies to actually push me to that point*. Thinking back, I probably saw it on HBO or Cinemax, at about the same age as the characters. Wil Wheaton mentions in his entry that he was twelve when they filmed it and River Phoenix was a few years older. I was not much older than that when I watched it, which may have been how it started.
I was in the midst of junior high, almost in high school, and had an associative experience – my best friend through elementary school had moved to the west coast (his dad had been reassigned to a base in Washington State), and while we tried the pen pal thing (back in the ancient days before the internet and email) but eventually our communications fizzled away. (I’ve thought about him and his family at different times over the years, and have tried looking them up on some of the social sites but with no success.)
But it was the age, which is the important thing, and the identification that could be made by someone so close to the age of the characters at the first viewing. When I’ve watched it since, there’s still a little pull at the end of the movie and the reflections over the other friendships that have been made and gradually lost over the years (and the oh so precious few that manage to survive on long-distance strings), but nothing like that first one. Sometimes it’s those friends you had when you were twelve that can make all the difference.
* Toy Story 3 is the most recent one I cried at the end of, and there have been very few that I have seen in the years between (about twenty now) that stick out. The reason for TS3 doing it was two fold… I could relate to Andy’s position, but it was mainly the fact that I could project my nephews into Andy (and all of the growth, changes, and their entry into the bigger world that comes with it).
There was an article that Wil Wheaton had referenced (in a post that I have already referenced before)… I had missed it when I read the first Wheaton post, but when he mentioned it again in his next post (and I actually saw it), I decided to take note…
Despite it taking a couple of days for me to get a chance to read it (holiday travels, and being away from a computer for a few days), the blog post that was referenced was actually quite good.
Waiterrant.net is written by someone who actually has a “day job” as a waiter. And he has written a book about some of his experiences. The post in question talks about the difference between blogging and writing a book. I believe the moral in his post is accurate – blogging and book writing are two different entities, and have to be juggled and handled differently.
One point that he makes is:
“I also discovered another truism — you can’t write a book and maintain a blog at the same time. If you try, one or the other is going to suffer — usually both. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.”
That is a very good point, and one that can also be taken with salt. Directly following the above statement, he discloses: “When I started my book I used the mornings to write about being a waiter, worked nights as a server in a restaurant, then spent the wee hours blogging about what happened during my shift. That would drive anybody nuts.”
Which I relate over to “priorities”. He goes on to say that he let blog posts slide while working on the book. I don’t know the specific timetable he was working in – the specific chunks of time spent each day on the book, his regular job and his blog posts. With that being said, there are several other writers – granted, they are “professional” writers – that do both (maintain a blog AND manage to write other stuff).
But it all goes back to priorities… if you want to write, you will figure out a way to make it work (self, pay attention here!). As a reader, I like being able to go to a blog and see something new (actually, it gets frustrating when someone doesn’t do an update, at least every couple of days – or at least go by a schedule “I’ll make new posts on X”). As a writer, though, I fully understand the “I can’t do it all right now” dilema (and still struggle with it, almost daily – hey, I’m human!), and can agree with his ultimate decision.
For focused, sustained creative output, it is sometimes best to go “off-grid” for a while. Based on his material (and the fact that it’s a life I can closely relate to), I plan on looking over his blog for a bit, and maybe get around to reading his book. When I do, I’ll probably be off-grid myself for a while…
It’s a good, short piece of writerly advice… and he titles it “Five Simple Ways to Just Keep Writing”. After reading it (and re-reading it, several times), the advice does make sense. Actually, and even Wil admits, it’s not really earth-shattering advice. I have read a lot of other authors make some of the same statements (especially #4).
“4. Don’t show your work to anyone until the first draft is done. Don’t even excerpt little bits and put them on your blog. I put about 30 words from House of Cards online, and I lost all of my momentum as a result. I’m not sure why this happens, but it really sucks when it does.” (From Wil Wheaton’s “Five Ways” post)
And, from my own experience, depending on the work, it is the same for me. A short work, it might be okay with (for me)… Longer works, though, get the life force sucked out, like a Banshee aging a character 10 years, or a Nymph killing a character that fails a saving throw (don’t get the jokes? Ask a gamer! :o)
I remember a trilogy that I had pretty much outlined the core story elements (it was a fantasy trilogy, with some similar elements of the Realms “Avatar” Trilogy – like, four main characters in a group, all good friends, until the group is fractured by one character’s choice to be self-serving, but otherwise, actually, completely different.) I showed it to a couple of people and asked some opinions, but that was as far as it got.
I will counter/add to the statement (#4) though, with this:
Sharing is a very subjective act, and very personal. If you are involved with a group of like-minded people – writerly types that want to improve/tell the best story they can tell – and it is an understood, mutual arrangement to review Works-in-Progress, then by all means: share and ask for feedback.
However, don’t get hung up on it! If you are “workshopping” two chapters that you have written for a book, and you have not finished the book, smile, nod, and make notes on the feedback (unless they give you some good, written feedback), but focus more on finishing the work than making changes to what you have already written. Finish first, revise later!
Speaking of finishing… I have a story that I am working on, due next week, that I need to get back to…
I have been nursing severe sinus issues… probably for quite some time, but especially since finishing last weeks jury duty. The courtroom where we heard the case had a thermostat (remotely controlled from a building about two miles away, on the other side of the local river) that must have felt it important that the room be able to double as a meat locker after finishing cases for the day. Starting last Wednesday I have been constantly blowing my nose in an effort to be able to breathe (blowing, sometimes, with mixed results).
I finished the short script last Friday, and have sent it out to one person for a reading, and am preparing two printed copies for others to read. I have also submitted it to “my” writing group for review…
Now, with that said, I had my first class last night, and the prospects look… interesting. As I think I have mentioned before, I have that jumbled ball of nerves floating around – I’m excited, because it’s a writing class [which means, you know, I have to write stuff!], but at the same time, there is the nervous tick of not having had this instructor before – not knowing how he grades or really how he even runs the class [overall].
There are actually stories [published] that we will read and discuss from an artistic standpoint [to think about other ways of building a story, etc.]. I have already started looking over the three [have read one, and marked the other two] for next week, and can already see part of where the idea of “other ways” can go.
Here, however, is the meat of why I was moved – first thing this morning, to create this post… More “Words from Wheaton” (hey, that’s kinda catchy)… As I have mentioned before (by means of cross-posting, linking back to Wil’s blog, or others), I like seeing other writers having epiphanies… Even the few times that I have had my own, it has always been a good feeling to actually hear other [read: professional, published] writers say the same thing. More specifically, admitting, without a lot of ego, the process of hitting walls and trying to break through – finding a way for a story to work, realizing that the approach may need to be retooled, or the story completely rethought.
Growing up in the pre-digital age, the writers I read were huge, living on pillars and pedestals. Granted, this was the mind-set of a thirteen year old, interested in telling stories, mentally trying to comprehend the art of writing. In seventh grade, my friend Chris and I talked about (and even did a basic plot storyline) for a trilogy… and other than a few efforts of thirteen year olds trying to start a book, it didn’t get too far. Trying to understand how a writer could assemble a book – let alone a series – became one of life’s assumed mysteries.
Now, as Will demonstrates in this post, there is a huge advantage for us writerly/creative types – peer support for the isolated. Also, for those of us still in the early stages of (what I want to develop into) a writing career, the digital age helps to find those authors that are wanting to come down off of their pillars, to bee seen as normal people, and in some small way, to help those that are interested, build their own pillars.
It is always good to have proof that I am not the only one. [read the linked post, and you’ll know what I mean]