I just finished Wil Wheaton’s new book, Just a Geek over the weekend. It’s such a cruel twist that it only takes a few hours to read a book that took a year (and sometimes longer) to write. You can tell someone is a good writer when you finish the book and wish there was more. You find yourself perusing the index or reading the back cover or even reading the dedication or acknowledgements in an attempt to squeeze just that much more out of the experience. Fortunately for me, I only have to wait a day or so to read more from Wil because he updates his blog regularly.
In this book, he talks about his experiences after leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it’s not some dorky celebrity thing. He continually runs into a brick wall every time he auditions for acting parts. He starts his blog to jump start his career, but when he asked the universe for a favor, he forgot to specify which career he wanted started. Instead of getting him acting jobs, his blog takes on a life of its own and forays into a writing career. It’s a great underdog story and the best part is that it’s true.
The Dot Bomb was so hard on all of us. When the bubble burst, Mike went from writing several books a year with good compensation to writing one book a year for a pittance. He had kept The Quotations Page as a hobby and before he knew it, he was getting so many hits from it that it was crashing the server. When we were lamenting the loss of income from his book writing career, we were also lamenting the fact that we were paying so much for bandwidth on the websites. The second that Mike stopped looking backward at his depleting writing career and started looking forward at the popularity of his website, things changed. After all his work and dedication, he now has the number one quotations site.
It’s like Wil’s book is a book for our generation. All of us had to reevaluate ourselves after the bottom fell out of the Dot Com phenomenon. He was talking about acting and writing, but for a lot of us, the carpet was pulled out from under us. I’m sure there are people out there blaming politicians or stock analysts for the carpet pull, but the blame really belongs squarely on our own shoulders. It was wrong for us to depend on book publishers, dot com startups, or the acting profession. The only people we can truly rely on are ourselves. The minute Wil started depending on himself instead of the whim of the casting directors, he was free. Just a Geek is truly a book for The Computer Generation.
The reading public is insatiable. What’s next, Wil? Write some fiction for me and please let it be about cool sci-fi, not poker.