Monday, December 14, 2015

#53 [2015/CBR7] "You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost)" by Felicia Day

I was prowling through my library, on the search for a romance novel only available in print, when I spied You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost) (2015) by Felicia Day, sitting out on a display table. I know Felicia Day from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which I loved, but that's about it. Curious, I cracked open the book to get a feel for it and read the first paragraph of the introduction:

"I recently experienced the perfect summary of my career at a Build-A-Bear store inside a suburban mall in Lancaster, California. Okay, sure, a single adult woman in her thirties with no children might not necessarily pick that as the first place to kill an hour of her life. But I'd never been inside one before, and I'd already spent twenty minutes outside like a creepster, watching actual, legitimate customers (mostly toddlers) go inside and, like modern-day demigods, craft the companion of their dreams. At a certain point, after eating two Auntie Anne's pretzels, I decided to throw off the societal yoke of judgment."

Hey, I'm a single, childless woman in my thirties, and Day seemed like a good, entertaining writer. That's all it took. Day's book came with me as I continued on my search.

Felicia Day begins the discussion of her life with her unique homeschooling childhood in the heart of the South, and her entrance into college at sixteen years of age. With her mom driving her to college every day, Felicia earned a double major in Math and Music (violin). Day is very humble about her education and abilities, focusing on the fact that her education was very disorganized and random, but reading between the lines, you realize that she is very smart, very driven, and her education was actually very involved. Even at fifteen years old, Day was tutored in Math and taking violin lessons from college professors. When she took her SAT's, she received an almost perfect score.

After college, Felicia decided to eschew her education and move to Los Angeles to be an actor, getting work in commercials and small bit parts. She discusses how her brother introduced her to World of Warcraft, and how she quickly became addicted. And not a fun addiction, addicted in a bad way. This eventually led to her creating the web series The Guild [I have not seen this series--yet.]. The unique, pioneering success of The Guild gave Day the opportunity to build a niche of creative work that has been fulfilling and sustaining. On the way, Day details some deep anxiety and depression that she had to work through. Finally, Day dedicates a chapter to Gamergate, how it affected her, and how scary it was to be such a target of hatred. 

What Day does not talk about is her personal life. Every once in a while there is a mention of her "boyfriend," but there are no specifics and no stories. Day also speaks very little of her brother and parents. For most of the book, I didn't even know if her brother was younger or older than her. I'm assuming Day wanted to respect their privacy and keep up some walls around her own life. This isn't a problem for the book. Day is open and relatable in the subjects she chooses to discuss.

I'm really glad I picked up this book. In many ways, I have very little in common with Felicia Day. I don't play video games, and I've never had to deal with depression and anxiety. But we are the same age and seem to have similar personalities. So many times throughout the book, I was either impressed by her descriptions (what it feels like to start a new video game) or sighing in relief and recognition that someone else felt the same as me.

"When we graduate from childhood into adulthood, we're thrown into this confusing, Cthulhu-like miasma of life, filled with social and career problems, all with branching choices and no correct answers. Sometimes gaming feels like going back to that simple kid world." (115)

When she described the absolute nail peeling torture of writing her first script, I was nodding my head along with her in understanding sympathy. "Yes, I could have filled all those newfound minutes with actual work, but I had no confidence in myself, I was a fraud. Who was I to pick up a pen and expect anything good to come out of it? I expected perfection as soon as the pencil hit the paper, and since that's impossible, I couldn't get myself to start. Then I felt guilty about not starting, which made me want to start even less." (136)

"I love it when people tell me I'm doing the wrong thing, or that something isn't possible, or just straight dismiss me. That lights my fire in a perverse way, like a two-year-old who deliberately touches the hot stove after you tell them not to. But compliment me or expect something big? That's the perfect way to destroy my confidence." (219)

I definitely recommend this book. It's fun and short, with an ongoing theme of kindness, understanding towards others, and finding your own way in life. Day jokes that she's great at writing slogans you can put on coffee cups, but I really did find her book and her life inspiring.

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