Life of Wildbow

[ask]

Check out this post. Wildbow talks about his life on reddit. This explains so much about Taylor’s school experience. No Worm spoilers 

This sounds interesting. I’ve frequently wondered about how Wildbow’s life shaped this story.

Let’s take a look.

[The rest of the blockquotes here are from the Reddit comment linked above.]

Redditors who have opted out of a standard approach to life (study then full time work, mortgage etc), please share your stories. What are the best and worst things about your lifestyle, and do you have any regrets?

Well, the title is already intriguing.

Hermit writer here.

Born hard of hearing, went to a regular school. Struggled in middle school. Struggled in high school. Kids who were in my class in kindergarten were in my classes all the way through to grade ten, with the elementary/middle school and high school being a stone’s throw from one another.

I kind of knew about the hard of hearing bit already. I can’t find the ask that told me about it, though (it was probably before I stopped using screenshots for asks).

So far this sounds relatively normal, except for that part. But I’m guessing he’s going to elaborate a bit on the struggles surrounding his school life and hearing problems?

In grade 10, after years of bullying and a peer group that had established who was ‘in’ and who was ‘out’ when I was knee-high, tired of struggling, I was walking down the halls and I found myself wondering when the last time I’d even opened my mouth in school was.

Oh wow.

I stopped dead in my tracks, just paralyzed by loneliness. I asked myself what the point was, couldn’t come up with an answer, resumed walking, went out the side door of the school and went home.

This clearly parallels a few of the last times we saw Taylor at Winslow High.

The start of me just not going to school for that entire year. Nobody noticed.

Damn. He really did write all that from experience. It took a while for Taylor’s absence to get noted, too.

Taylor’s absence getting noted at all actually seems like a fantasy compared to this.

I got caught at the end of the year, did the same thing the next year, got caught only at the end.

What the hell sort of attendance routines did this school have? Clearly not good ones.

Ended up going to an Alternative school (Self study), proved to myself that I had it in me when I got 3 years of studying done in 8 months, won two awards… and then had to go back to my old school for what was essentially grade 13, where I struggled.

Huh. Well done.

People learn in very different ways. Some people can do this much more effectively than learning in a group. Some people are like me and can’t make themselves keep up the effort required to self study, or learn better from lectures than reading.

Some people learn by observing their surroundings while flying.

I worked retail and found it fine. But family wanted me to go to University and figure myself out.

I’m currently working retail, taking a break from the educational system and buying time to figure out what to study.

I went to University and I struggled.

Guys, I’m sensing a theme here.

I spent a long, long time trying to figure out why I struggled, why I was tired all the time, and it took a kind of confluence of events before I realized what should’ve been obvious. I found the social stuff hard and I was exhausted after a day of listening because I’m severely to profoundly deaf.

Oh yeah, that makes a ton of sense. It’s like how focusing is exhausting when you have trouble doing that, how reading without glasses you need tires out your eyes and brain, etc.

Honestly, it’s a little surprising that I haven’t (explicitly) met a hard of hearing character in Worm yet. Maybe later? Oh wait, there was that deaf waitress at the villain pub in Hive.

Beyond that, the ‘path’ just isn’t for me. The systems and institutions just grind me down. The idea of a 9 to 5 is death to me. These things are built and streamlined for the average person, and between disability and a fairly extreme degree of introversion, I’m far from that average.

That is very fair. There’s definitely a brand of ableism in that system.

In the end, I stepped off the path. I’d been writing a thing online as a side project and the reception was good, so I decided to leave school earlier than planned, use the savings I had, stretch things as far as I could, and work when I could (with a family friend when he needed the help and had the cash to spare, doing some landscaping, drywall installation, house painting, all prepping houses for sale in a boom market) to stretch things further.

This would be too early for that thing online to be Worm, right?

It just occurred to me that I have no idea how old Wildbow is.

And I wrote as seriously as I could while people close to me told me that I didn’t deserve to ‘get lucky’ and have the writing work out because I hadn’t seen University all the way through, or openly expressed doubts and disappointments.

Yikes.

Fuck that noise. Writing is tons of effort!

But you know, it worked out in the end. I wrote the equivalent of 20 books in 2.4 years, wrote another 10 for my next series in the ensuing 1.2 years, and I’ve kept up a similar pace over the last 7 years and two months.

Especially when you’re this coddamn productive!

That’s 8.33 books a year!

I started writing mid- 2011, left school at the start of 2012, went full-time-paying-the-bills in 2014 with an income around minimum wage. I moved to a small town (no car, nothing fancy) that same year. I’m now closer to the average Canadian wage. It’s been two chapters a week (2.5 if crowdfunding money is enough) since the beginning.

Oh, I suppose that means it would be Worm after all.

When was this written… huh, yesterday? Well, that explains why this hasn’t been sent to me before.

Writing being Wildbow’s only/main income makes me feel even more right about my decision to set things up so that some of the money from my Patreon goes to Wildbow. It’s not that big a portion of his income (apparently average Canadian wage is 986 CAD or 755 USD per week, and I chip in with about 3.26 CAD or 2.50 USD per week), but it’s something.

My reality: I can go a week or two without really talking to anyone that isn’t a cashier.

Sounds a bit lonely in the long run, but as a fellow introvert (or maybe I’m an ambivert, in the systems where that’s actually a thing), I get it – it also does sound pretty good. Especially if you’ve got internet people to casually interact with at your own leisure.

Every two months or so I go to a relative’s to dogsit while they’re on vacation or to see someone for their birthday, and that gives me most of my fill of socialization and companionship.

Nice!

I don’t have a car, so it’s usually walking or taking the train to another city, and using public transpo there. I subsisted on a rice and beans diet for a good stretch, one $15 video game bought in a year, and my level of expenses hasn’t really risen that much from that point. I eat better and buy a couple more things, but nothing major.

So I guess this would be somewhere between average and reserved?

I don’t know. Being Norwegian spoils me on these things.

60%+ of what I earn goes to savings, which gives me security when my income could fluctuate or disappear at any time.

Oh, that’s smart. I suppose writing would be a bit of a risky business, what with writer’s block, audience fluctuations, sudden drops in popularity because something you wrote didn’t go over as well as you thought it would, etc.

My schedule is entirely my own, which usually amounts to 2.5 15+ hour workdays a week and another 5-10 hours a week spent managing community, finances, and exchanging emails with tv/movie studios, publishers or startups.

I was going to talk about the long but few workdays, but tv/movie studios excuse me what

Is a TV series version of something Wildbow wrote (Worm or otherwise) a serious possibility right now?? 😮

Best things – I love what I do. I love creating, I love my reader’s tears, I love my readers being horrified.

This is really important. You gotta enjoy what you do.

I get to make monsters and be surprised by what my characters do. Many of my fans are just the absolute coolest people – people I’m now insanely glad to have met and include in my life. There’s amazing fanart of my work out there, music, people have gotten tattoos. Tattoos. That’s insane.

People have permanently, painfully painted their appreciation of your work into their bodies, Wildbow!

The bad- I’m an online content creator, and it’s impossible to convey just how toxic the toxic elements of a fandom can get and how negative the negative aspects can get, and how much it can affect you.

That is true. There will always be a toxic side, and I can imagine works like Worm would attract a lot of the edgy sort.

I’ve seen 20 online content creators either break down or remark on the effect it has, and it’s wholly accurate- and my audience isn’t even ~that~ large.

Yeah, it doesn’t take that many people to start brewing fandom sides like this.

This is multiplied by the fact that writing is lonely as a profession (I know too many writers who can’t even talk to their life partners about their work) and it can be hard to find perspective or balance as you take it all in, when you don’t have people to communicate with.

Robert Jordan used his wife as a beta reader or editor of sorts. She was there to tell him when something he wrote didn’t quite come across, to make up for the fact that he couldn’t tell. After all, he knew what he meant by that one line.

On a similar note, some casual dating would be nice, and living in a small town for economical reasons doesn’t leave me with a large dating pool, and at this point I’m not even sure if I could or should inflict myself on someone.

Oof.

There are way too many people who think like that. I hope you find happiness with someone who sees you for the good bean you are, Wildbow.

I’m healthy, groomed, I can hold a conversation, I’m just pretty set in my introverted ways.

…relatable, though.

But still, I’m pretty sure there are people out there for us, who not only tolerate but appreciate the introvert lifestyle.

Hell, both of my crushes have been very introverted, even compared to myself, so I know those people exist because I’m among them.

On another, less social note, there is the fact that as an online content creator, you can’t really take breaks. Or you can, but it costs. Consistency and frequency of updates are god, and a hiatus is a death knell.

No wonder he criticized me on this that one time. In his situation, it matters a lot.

I don’t even know what an effective vacation would entail, because I feel like finding my stride again would cost more than I gained from having the break. So it’s been seven years and two months without a vacation, writing a short book every month.

Damn.

You deserve so many props, Wildbow.

…at some point here I started talking to Wildbow, just like I do to Taylor and other Worm characters. Well, at least this time there’s actually a chance he’s going to read this sometime, if he hasn’t dropped my blog.

I just hope he doesn’t think it’s weird that I’m liveblogging his life story.

It makes for a very strange sort of burnout, when I love it so much, I can still regularly put out some great work to acclaim and praise, but am nonetheless worn down around the edges.

That does not sound healthy.

No regrets. This is me. This is what I’m built for.

As long as you feel it’s right for you, this is good. 🙂

I could do with less negativity from some fans and getting regular good nights of sleep (the deafness comes with insomnia by way of terminal tinnitus), but both of those just come with the territory.

Ouch.

I feel you on the sleep front (ADD has its ways of messing with your ability to fall asleep too), but tinnitus sounds like a particularly annoying way to be inflicted with it.

I’ve been telling family for the last year that I’ll move to a city with more going on than (as my elderly neighbor phrased it) drinking and meth, where there’s classes to take, a possible dating pool, and/or activities that could break me out of my hermit shell… but my current apartment is amazing and cheap, with the nicest landlords ever. It’s just in a do-nothing town. I haven’t found anything remotely competitive, even taking ‘cheap’ off the table.

I’ve lived in small-ish towns all my life. It’s pretty nice, especially as an introvert.

So that’s where I’m at.

Thank you, Wildbow. This was an interesting read. I feel like I know you a bit better now. 🙂

(Again, if you’re reading this, I hope it wasn’t too weird to see me liveblogging this.)

(#mlp:fim
#i tried to keep references and jokes out of this)

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