maxbarry.com
Tue 08
Mar
2005

Why I Blog (Part 1)

Max

How are you? I know you get fan mails all the time so I’ll keep this short. I am currently doing an undergraduate thesis paper on blogs and I was wondering if I can ask you one question: Why have you decided to use the blog format for your website?

The short answer is because I thought it was good way to keep in touch with people in the long, empty years between novels. The long answer has graphs, and I’ll write that in the blog after this one. Because you need some backstory: the fact is, I wouldn’t have even known what a blog was if it hadn’t been for that little punk Wil Wheaton.

In March 2003 I started finding odd bits in people’s e-mails, like, “By the way, congrats on the Wil Wheaton rave!” I had no idea what this meant or who Wil Wheaton was. But after I got enough of them, I decided to find out—because I’m very curious, if you prod me repeatedly. I did an internet search and discovered that Wil Wheaton had a web site, and in passing he’d said:

I just finished a great book called “Jennifer Government.” I bought it on a Saturday, and finished it by the following Tuesday. I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever read a book. It’s that good.

This was pretty great, but who was this guy? I clicked around a little more and was struck numb with horror: Wil Wheaton was my high school arch-nemesis.

(Well, one of them. I had a few. Don’t think I’ve forgotten you, Berryman!)

See, one night in the late 1980s a bunch of us teenagers went out to the movies and saw Stand By Me. It was a great movie, and I enjoyed it even though it was hard to concentrate with Jen, the girl I was lusting after, sitting so close by. We came out of the theater and started to talk about the actors in it and Jen said something like, “Ohhh, that Wil Wheaton, he’s so dreamy!”

Well, naturally enough, I was immediately struck with the urge to hunt down Mr. Wheaton and beat him into a bloody mess.

I resisted, because that was illegal and I didn’t have the plane fare to go to L.A. Instead I settled for less extreme but, alas, no more successful methods of pursuing Jen for the next few years, until one day she cracked under the unrelenting strain and agreed to marry me. Ten years of wedded bliss later (I speak for myself here), and suddenly Wil Wheaton is on the scene trying to mess things up again. I could feel my temples throb with the old rage, and hear the voices whispering, “Now he’s not such a big-shot actor, his house probably doesn’t even have that good security.”

But no! I was a grown man, now (I told myself). That stuff was ancient history. And this site of Wil’s, called a “blog,” was clearly something of a phenomenon: he would write about whatever the hell he was up to that day, and an astounding number of people would drop by to read it. It was an intriguing idea, and Wil an excellent writer; I quickly became engrossed reading about his trials and tribulations as an actor, writer, stepfather, and human being.

I wrote to Wil to thank him:

Hey, you liked my novel! And then you told hundreds of thousands of people about it. Boy do you rock. Thanks a lot.

Wil wrote right back:

Right on. :)

You rock for writing it. It’s the first novel I’ve read in years that was so compelling I only put it down to sleep and drive. Yeah I read it while I ate. Best 4 days in recent memory.

He also put my e-mail to him on his web site, which was an unexpected introduction to the custom of bloggers to make just about anything public, along with a complete fabrication about how he e-mailed me first. But this was surely just a harmless mistake, and it was quite thrilling to get a reply. “Hey, Jen!” I called. “You’ll never guess who I just got an e-mail from. It’s that guy, Wil Wheaton, who you —”

“Wil Wheaton!” Jen exclaimed, her eyes lighting up. “He’s dreamy!

Damn you, Wil Wheaton. I’ll get you one of these days.