Steal Like an Artist

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:06 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

I’ve been struggling a lot to keep writing, to keep creating, to find the inspiration and the focus I need to do my job. A lot of it is related to my Depression, but there comes a point when the difference between being a professional and a hobbyist is actually doing the work, even — especially — when it’s hard.

So this weekend, Anne and I took the kids up to Santa Barbara to celebrate our birthdays (which are all in the next two weeks), and to get a change of scenery for a couple of days. It was a gorgeous trip, emotionally and spiritually, and while it didn’t give me the magic bullet to suddenly break through the struggle I’ve been having, I made a ton of progress, because I read a book that I took with me. Here’s my review that I posted to my Goodreads thingy:

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon, is essential reading for all artists.

It’s a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Some of Austin’s suggestions will validate what you’re already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.

Because it’s such a small and accessible book, you’ll want to go back to it from time to time. Just like Stephen King’s On Writing, as you change and grow as an artist, it reveals new ideas and inspirations to you that you may have missed on a previous read.

This is a fantastic addition to your library, and a wonderful gift for any creative person in your life.

I’ve been profoundly inspired by Austin’s book, because he reaffirmed things I’ve already been doing as an artist, but mostly because he gave me permission to think about the entire creative process differently.

For a long time, I have felt like a travel writer who never leaves the house, and Steal Like An Artist helped me find the door so I can get back on the road.

making space to be creative

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:32 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

One week and about ten hours ago, I decided to step away from Twitter for a little bit. The specific details aren’t important, and I suspect that many of you reading this now are already nodding in agreement because you grok why. But I took it off my phone, and I haven’t been to the website on my desktop since. For the first 48 hours, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making a choice that mattered, and thinking about how I wasn’t habitually looking at Twitter every few minutes to see if I’d missed anything funny, or to see the latest bullshit spewing forth from President Fuckface’s mouthanus. I was, ironically, spending more time thinking about Twitter since I wasn’t using it than I spent thinking about it when I was.

It started out as a 24 hour break, then it was a 48 hour break, then it was the weekend, and here we are one week later and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything important. I feel like I’ve given myself more time to be quiet and alone, more time to reflect on things, and I’ve created space in my life to let my mind wander and get creative.

I’m not creating as much as I want to, and I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ll never be able to create as much as I want to, but I’ve gotten some stuff done this week that probably wouldn’t have gotten done if Twitter had been filling up the space that I needed.

Here’s a little bit from my blog post that became a short story that grew into a novella that is now a novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything:

My mother was leaning against her car, talking with one of the other moms, when we arrived. My sister was throwing a Strawberry Shortcake doll into the air and catching it while they watched. I walked out of the bus and across the blazing hot blacktop to meet her.

Willow, catch!” My sister cried, sending Strawberry Shortcake in a low arc toward me. I caught her without enthusiasm and handed her back. “You’re supposed to throw her to me!” Amanda said, demonstrating. Her doll floated in a lazy circle, arms and legs pinwheeling, before falling back down into my sister’s waiting arms. The writer in me wants to make a clever reference to how I was feeling at that moment, about how I could relate to Strawberry Fucking Shortcake, spinning out of control in the air above us, but it feels hacky, so I’ll just talk about how I wanted to make the reference without actually making the reference, thereby giving myself permission to do a hacky writer’s trick without actually doing it. See, there’s nothing tricky about writing, it’s just a little trick!

It’s still in the first draft, and I may not keep all or even any of it, but after putting it aside for months while I was depressed about too many things to look at it, it feels so good to be back into this story.

Oh, speaking of writing, I got notes back from the editors on my Star Wars 40th anthology submission. I thought that, for sure, they’d want me to rework a ton of it, but all they asked me to do is change a name! And they told me it was beautiful! So I’ve been feeling like a Capital-W Writer for a few days.

And speaking of feeling happy for a change, Hasbro and Machinima announced that I’m a voice in the next installment of the Transformers animated series, Titans Return. And it feels silly to care about this particular thing, but Daily Variety put my name in the headline, which made me feel really, really good.I’ve always felt like the only thing that should matter is the work, and that the work should be able to stand on its own … but that’s not the reality even a little bit. Daily Variety is the industry’s paper of record, so when it chooses to put you in the headline of a story, people pay attention and it matters in the way that can make the difference between getting called for a meeting, or the last ten years of my life as an actor.

It’s also a good reminder that, even if I’m not getting the opportunities I want to be an on-camera actor, it is entirely within my power to create the space I need to be a writer.

 

johnny sokko and his flying robot

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:22 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

A young boy aids in the fight against a mechanized terrorist organization as the sole controller of a prototype giant robot.

I couldn’t sleep, so I wandered into the weird and comforting landscape of UHF television’s modern equivalent, which in this case is a digital antenna station on 56.4 here in Los Angeles, called Comet TV*

For the next half hour, I watched this magnificently bizarre thing called Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. As far as I can tell, there’s this little kid called Johnny Sokko, and like all the other kids in school were all “Johnny Sokko, you’re a stupid face!” so he was like “h*ck you guys, I’m going to get a giant robot and live on a boat for some reason. Oh, and also, I’m like 8 or whatever, and I’m in charge of a giant flying murder machine. So watch your step, bitches.” Johnny gets this this giant robot who flies, and he controls him by issuing commands into a gold wristwatch. Instead of telling the robot to breakdance for his endless amusement, Johnny cries a lot and makes the robot save the world from a squid guy or something who lives in a sunken spaceship, adjacent to a pineapple under the sea? It’s all a little fuzzy in the translation, I’ll be honest, but I think I got the gist of it.

Anyway, I probably made some of that up, but this is all true: There’s a Flying Robot who is vaguely Egyptian. There’s a Gargoyle Gang, the Emperor Guillotine, a military group of children who are called Team Unicorn and are the only thing between Earth’s survival and intergalactic destruction for some reason, and all the bizarre 1960s Kaiju visual effects you could ever hope for. The music is exactly what you want it to be, and at one point, an entire freeway overpass is destroyed, because who among us hasn’t wanted to do that!

A quick search on a few of the Internets made it clear to me that I was not just way late to the party on this (the short I saw was originally released in Japan in 1967, as Giant Robo because obviously) but I am also discovering this literally decades after it became popular with the cool kids. So if you’re like OH GREAT WIL WHEATON THANKS FOR WASTING MY TIME WITH SOMETHING I ALREADY KNEW ABOUT now you can feel like a jerk because it’s new to me, Roland. It’s new to me!

It’s weird, and fun, and overflowing with potential audio samples, so I thought I would share it with you today. Here’s what I think is the first episode, in which we meet Johnny Sokko, the Flying Robot, an unsettling sea monster, and more:

There are several collections of Johnny Sokko films at the Internet Archive. I guess you can also buy remastered DVDs if you want to go that route (though I strongly believe that the faded and aged look of the originals at archive.org is a significant contributor to the charm of the thing.)

Good luck. We’re all counting on you.

*It’s owned by the profoundly evil Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is a giant bummer. You can buy evil offsets by supporting ACLU and SPLC, if it makes you feel better.

depression (still) lies

Jul. 13th, 2017 10:07 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

One of the super fun things about living with depression and anxiety is how my idiot brain can go from “CAN DO!” to “EXISTENCE IS SUFFERING” faster than you can wish to take two strokes off your golf game. So today started out normal, and very quickly became a rough day. One of the ways I help myself through days like today, is to acknowledge that I’m sick not weak, and then take one step after another to get out from under the lead apron that Depression likes to drape over my life.

I just answered an ask on my Tumblr thingy that has helped me feel better, and I wanted to put it here, so it’s easy for me to find again the next time I need it:

==

Q: what can I do to bring myself out of depression?

A: It isn’t easy, and accepting and understanding that is the first and very important step to getting through it.
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

Without the Internet, I’d be just another failed actor struggling to make ends meet. Because I had the same ability to put together a website and reach an audience as anyone else, I was able to put my words on your screens, and eventually into a book that got into many of your hands. If Comcast or Verizon or AT&T or some other big telecom decided that regular guys like me had to pay some sort of protection money to have the same ability to reach you as Google or MSN does, I never would have been able to get WWdN off the ground, much less found Monolith Press, publish Dancing Barefoot, and start an entirely new career as a writer or have a second act in my acting career. There would be no Tabletop. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy that Tabletop is in the world.

We successfully fought to keep the Internet open and free just a few years ago, but it’s under attack again, another disastrous consequence of the Trump administration.

Here’s Consumerist on what is at stake (again) and why we are here (again):

Why is it in trouble?

The FCC that passed the Open Internet Rule was led by chairman Tom Wheeler, during the Obama administration. When the Trump administration took office in Jan. 2017, the FCC changed too.

At the end of January, long-time net neutrality foe Ajit Pai was promoted to the big seat and became the Commission’s chairman.

Pai has been gunning for net neutrality since the day it was adopted, if not sooner. So although in 2016 a federal court upheld the rules, Pai wants them reversed — and now, he has the means.

Because gaining a majority at the FCC is, on many key issues, basically a matter of partisan math, Pai will absolutely succeed if he wants to, regardless of literally tens of millions of people arguing against it.

Today is a day of action. Today, we are asking all Americans to take two minutes and contact the FCC, to make your voice heard, and make sure the FCC knows that you want network neutrality to be protected. Ars has a good collection of essential reading about network neutrality, but if you only have time to read one of them, here’s a concise guide to writing a comment to the FCC.

Two minutes, you guys. That’s all we need from you today. Please, take action.

 

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