Tue 08

Why I Blog (Part 1)


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.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: ""
Posted: 7020 days ago

That's a great story...

And reading it, up until you mentioned who he was, I kept thinking to myself, 'damn, I know that name.'

Ari (#1107)

Location: somewhere around California
Quote: "Can I be a random member of the moment?"
Posted: 7020 days ago

I'm pretty sure he just said that he emailed you first because he didn't think you'd read it. That's kind of a mistake, though, isn't it? Wouldn't he want to be able to say, "My website is so famous, Max Barry emailed me"? Ah well. His blunder goes to you then. Not only does it make you even sexier that he emailed you, but now you could say the same thing about your website.

Cogitation (#836)

Location: New York City
Quote: "Think about it for a moment."
Posted: 7020 days ago

Max, I'm a Trek fan. You do realize, of course, that as amazingly cool as you are, if you hurt the kid who saved the Enterprise three-and-a-half-times, I *will* have to... uhhh... smack you in the face with a lemon-meningue pie. You know that, right? :p

--The Jovial States of Cogitation
The NationStates Self-Proclaimed Court Jester


[For non-Trek fans: Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.]

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 7020 days ago

so that's why people are on Wil Wheaton's balls :)

'nuff said

shalini (#717)

Posted: 7020 days ago

i hope a similar thing happens to me when my book comes out. similar in that i hope a celebrity-type-person likes it and blogs about it. if the parallel of what happened to you happened to me, it would be tori amos, and my nerd-boy husband would be wandering around bumping into walls, mumbling 'she's so dreamy...'

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 7019 days ago

Huzzah for Wil Wheaton!

Ahh, Trek. It was my life. Once.

Yeah, my brother got Wil Wheaton's autobiography about what a big geek he is (yay for geeks!) and it has all these excerpts about blogging. I never made the connection before. That's pretteh cool.

Poor Max, forever locked in epic imaginary battle with Wesley Crusher. *shakes head* (psst... you'd win.)

I will say one thing for him in Stand By Me. He was very, very skinny. :-P


Cogitation (#836)

Location: New York City
Quote: "Think about it for a moment."
Posted: 7019 days ago

"Poor Max, forever locked in epic imaginary battle with Wesley Crusher. *shakes head* (psst... you'd win.)" -- Emily (#609)

Yeah, I can imagine it now. Wil hits him with technobabble and Max comes back with witty retorts. :D

DewKnight (#815)

Location: WP, CO,USA
Quote: "Booyah"
Posted: 7019 days ago

ahaha, a great story Max. Would I be right in assuming that the crazy Wil Wheaton had something to do with NationStates being listed on Or is it just there because it is ubercool like that?

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 7019 days ago

If you're planning to do a drive-by of some sort, you should watch out, he did a voice in San Andreas, he probably knows how to handle himself.

dj (#1128)

Location: .se
Quote: "My english is better than most other people's swedish, so please point out mistakes politely."
Posted: 7019 days ago

Wait... you named the character in the book after your wife!? Man, thats... I sense that there's more to this than you're telling us.

Coolet (#37)

Location: Goshen, Indiana
Quote: "Man who goes to bed with itchy bum, wakes up with smelly finger."
Posted: 7019 days ago

....Wow.....You just made the connection?

Machine Man subscriber Barry Mitchell (#1001)

Location: Saukville, Wisconsin
Quote: ""A hamster's like a small camel" - Ben Katz"
Posted: 7019 days ago

Funny... I found out about Jennifer Government and Max Barry from reading Wil Wheaton dot net.

And I stayed for the witty retorts. And the soup.


Mike Beard (#852)

Location: Edmonton, AB
Posted: 7019 days ago


I've been a fan of Will's since StarTrek TNG originally aired as I was sort of geek at the time and could relate to the character. (actually I'm still a bit of a geek) I never knew he had a blog until a couple of years ago when he did his first Slashdot interview.

Hehe It took him four days to finish JG? I finished it in one night(8 hours no sleeping). I must agree, It's a damn good read.

I can't wait to see his performance on CSI on Thursday.

Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 7019 days ago

As a fan of both Max Barry and Wil Wheaton I loved this entry.

I just finished "Just A Geek" a few days ago. Good read.

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 7018 days ago

I started reading Wil Wheaton's blog not too long ago. Now I'm strangely addicted. I'm not too sure why I care so much about a stranger's life. And I have to agree with a previous post - 4 days to finish the book? C'mon.

howard (#810)

Location: uk
Quote: "err"
Posted: 7018 days ago

Hello mate,

Just like so say, you should be thankful! You gave the man four days of pleasure. Probably the best your wife could do is a one nightstand and maybe a surprise for breakfast (in an indecent proposal type way).

Granted I do not know your wife and I have been married three times so no expert.



Morzaria (#463)

Location: Bangalore, India, well, most of the time atleast...
Quote: "We are gonna run run run to the cities of the future.."
Posted: 7018 days ago

*shakes head*

Disa (#1146)

Location: Stockholm
Quote: ""I don't think so""
Posted: 7016 days ago

I don't really like Will either.. Sure enough I don't know him so I guess I can't really say something bad about him! ;p

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 7014 days ago

There was just a big write up about bloggs and will weaton in the NY Times here take this
Yeah....he's all scrappy and such.

I rave about you on my blogg, and strangely enough a girl named Jen who broke my heart...but only my mom reads it, and she's alergic to paper and audio books, so it does you no good.

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 7014 days ago

Oh yeah and mine is here if you wanted to read it.

and why can't I pre order your next book yet....and why haven't you leveraged your position to sell me syrup T shirts and Jenifer Government rub on tatoooooooooos??

Come on...with the selling out and the leveraging and the CRM and the froinlaven!!!



shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 7013 days ago

you know what would be cool...
in an Erin Brokovich kinda way, if the REAL "JEN" made a secret cameo in the Jen Govnt movie how the real Erin B. was a waitress in the J.Roberts movie
then I would act like a big shot in front of whoever I was watching the movie with and be like yeah see her? that's the real Jen and his wifey...

Paul (#104)

Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote: ""Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. " --Brazil (1985 movie)"
Posted: 7012 days ago

Heh Shahab that would be cool. I always enjoy little things like that in movies. Of course most important is getting Syrup and JG on the screen ASAP! I'm waiting, and waiting for Company isn't helping :p So, Max, I'm waiting to be able to pre-order your book as well.

Yell at your publisher and yell them that some crazy fans are clawing at your door begging for books and holding wads of cash. Maybe that will get their attention. Then all you have to do is finish revising Company ;).

Of course T-shirts and such would be a cool idea. And you know you can start offering them through CafePress for no money to start. I realise all the copyright complications with Penguin and Doubleday and all that blah blah might ruin that from ever happening. I think it would be cool and I'd definitely buy some **** I don't need :). C'mon Max, you're the marketer by trade LOL.

Out4Blood (#1049)

Posted: 7002 days ago

4 days?!

It was merely a single airplane trip for me. And that included numerous pausing to reread the funnier bits to my slightly-annoyed-but-politely-generous fellow passengers.

Jenifer (#1868)

Location: Suwon, South Korea
Quote: ""I'll try everything once. If I like it, I'll try it again.""
Posted: 6623 days ago

I admitt I read the book in about 6 hours myself. But then I had to read it again because I felt like I missed stuff.

I can't wait till the movies come out so I can pretend I'm elite and say "Yeah, I read the books, and I'm on his website..." *Laughs*

Seriously though, John Cussack and Will Weaton? Wow, that is SO cool! When I read Surup I knew you'd be super-famous someday.

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