Writery Nerdbait

This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but there are so many pieces of awesome involved and I feel like I should talk about them all. Let us begin at the beginning. A while back, YouTube started supporting original webshow programming. Which I suppose they’ve always done, in a way, but they’re officially sanctioning it now. They made channels to aggregate shows that are similar, and you can subscribe to a channel now instead of just one user or show at a time, right? Makes sense. Good on you, YouTube. We’re living in a weird pre-singularity futureworld between the era of television and the interwebs being separate and the era of the two becoming one giant beast. And of course the very first channel I subscribed to was Geek & Sundry, because it’s run by Felicia Day and has all the episodes of The Guild.

I’ve talked about Felicia Day and The Guild on the blog before. But this YouTube channel has given her the room to bring us a bunch of new webshow awesomeness without having to do it all alone and run herself ragged and have a nervous breakdown. Must be super gratifying to be able to give all her funny, interesting friends an outlet to do the cool thing they love and then just hand it over to the nerds of the world. There are a ton of great shows on Geek & Sundry. A brief list: Sword and Laser (a scifi/fantasy book club), TableTop (playing board games with Wil Wheaton), Written By a Kid (they take a kid telling a story then make a short film of it with the kid narrating – sounds weird but it’s hilarious, trust me), and the Flog (Felicia Day’s show which is more or less a video blog of her doing stuff she’s always wanted to do and filming it, because she can, because she’s her own boss, ha ha, so there). Anyway, just go to YouTube (and subscribe!) or geekandsundry.com and check it out.

So take a jump to the left (and then a step to the ri-i-i-ight) and recall my rabid Patrick Rothfuss fandom. Turns out that, as occasionally happens in my little nerdy heaven, these two are friends! And I don’t know what crazy behind-closed-doors conversations had to take place under clandestine conditions for the cosmos to line up the way they have, but the end result is that now Patrick Rothfuss is doing a show on Geek & Sundry.

The show is called The Story Board and basically, it’s just a Google+ Hangout with Rothfuss and a handful of other writers having a conversation. The sort of conversations that I imagine them having at a dinner party or something, you know? Just talking about their process and craft, what they think of other authors’ work, the current state of publishing, etc, etc. It’s a monthly show, and each episode has a different topic. This first one went up this week and features Diana Rowland, Emma Bull, and Jim Butcher talking about (appropriately) Urban Fantasy. I don’t necessarily know a lot about Urban Fantasy (for example, should I be capitalizing those words?) and I thought it was really interesting to hear what these guys had to say about it. Like comparing Urban Fantasy to old fairy tales, where the dark and scary city is acting as a stand-in for the forest. Isn’t that brilliant? Because who’s afraid of the woods anymore? Besides me, but we have bears, so that doesn’t count. These are the kinds of writery things I think about anyway. Sort of reminds me of being in a creative writing or literature lecture in college, only funnier, and with people who actually do this for a living instead of hanging out with self-righteous college students all day.

I don’t know. Maybe I just miss my writer’s group.

Hmm, I just made myself sad.

Anyway, I also really love that Geek & Sundry is kind of pushing reading a little. The Sword and Laser show is a book-club-slash-book-review show. Felicia Day has her own book club that does monthly Google+ Hangouts (The Vaginal Fantasy book club – they read scifi/fantasy romance novels). And now this thing with Rothfuss. I mean, obviously I could make the erroneous overgeneralization that because the target market for this company is the nerdier demographic they can get away more easily with talking about books than say, oh, I don’t know, Fox. But I don’t think one can necessarily equate intelligence with interest. Not across the board. This is definitely biased by my literature degree but: books are important. We don’t read enough in this country and the publishing industry is dying. But Felicia Day has serious clout these days, so I’m glad she’s giving people that sort of forum. Maybe someone who never gave a shit about reading will see one of these shows and get really into scifi or fantasy or romance. Or even science. Or screenwriting. That would be worth all the effort, I think.

So, what’s the point? Besides the fact that I think this whole thing is cool? (And really, shouldn’t that be enough? It’s my blog, damn it! I write what I want!) No, no, it is cool. And Rothfuss is following in the footsteps of other webshows that have kind of made it ok to say “Well there’s this thing I want to do, and if I put it on the interwebs it’ll be easy for everyone to see. And free. And if they don’t like it they can kiss my ass because there’s a whole big interwebs out there that they can go watch cat videos on. Oh, and it’s free.” (Don’t be a hater in webshow comments, y’all. They work their balls off to make a cool thing and then give it to us for free. Be nice.) I think I talked about this a bit in my Neil Gaiman post, about how the nature of distribution has changed and is simultaneously changing the way we think about art in the first place. It’s a New Media world, you know? People have to put their amount of “web presence” on their résumés now. Isn’t that weird?

But taking that responsibility on ourselves as creators, and giving a big “fuck you” to the System or the Man or whatever, and just doing what we love because we love it and ratings and sales and money be damned? All of that? That’s our generation’s revolution. It’s quiet and it’s slow and it’s a lot less ballsy than marching in the streets, but it’s a foundation for what’s coming. Telling people that art is ok. That their story matters. That they can say anything and someone, somewhere will listen. Or teaching a kid that the people they look up to like books and that being smart is cool. That’s something I think we need to impress upon them at a very young age. Fuck teaching to the test. Fuck memorizing and regurgitating information. Give your kid a book. Show them how to tell a story, and maybe that story will change the world. All we are is our words.

I’m getting a little off-topic here, but I’m thirty and I just learned that. Not that all we are is our words. I knew that. But the bit about saying what you have to say and putting it out there instead of hiding it away because you’re scared that no one will ever put it out there for you. A year ago I was terrified to even let my best friends read my stuff and now I look forward all week to blog day (although admittedly I don’t have a whole hell of a lot of exciting things to look forward to out here in bear country). Things aren’t going to just happen to you. You have to do things for yourself. And I think between having the good imps at Geek & Sundry (and other similar organizations) to show me how, and having so many people tell me that they actually like my blog, I learned that lesson with the least amount of crying possible. So thanks for that, you guys. Go make a cool thing and put it out there for the world to enjoy. It’ll totally be worth it.