It was a year ago when Paul ran one of my first articles. One year. I can still remember the feeling I got when I opened the email from him. Pure unbridled elation. By that point, Paul had endured atleast two months of harassment from me, begging him to give me a chance. I was a huge fan of the site. I felt like Unreality covered everything, and Paul’s voice was distinctly his own. So for me, wanting to be a part of a site I already loved made so much sense. I knew that some of my stuff would be darker than most of the stuff he had run on the site up to that point, and I was genuinely afraid I was reaching for a dream that ridiculously out of my grasp.
Yet, somehow, it happened. And here I am, so many articles later, with my own site having just passed a million readers, and the truth is, I still know that I have so much to learn. But I also know where my roots are, and where I hope I always stay planted here because it is such an integral part of my life, and that is at Unreality. No one would have EVER read me outside of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, had Paul never given me that chance. He was like the gatekeeper to my dreams, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t sit in silent awe at my life, and how I went from being beaten up by special needs kids, to writing insane theories about Edward Norton, and asking readers their thoughts on killer kids. I sometimes am convinced I died a year ago, and this has all been some weird, post-death dream, like the movie Jacob’s Ladder. But in case I AM still alive, and this is all real, here are a few things I have learned writing for this wonderful site over the last year. Please note, I still have SO much to learn, and I can finally admit that.
The Readers Are Right
Fassbender has nothing to do with this article. But he does have something to do with this one.
You know, I still make mistakes. All the f*cking time, actually. And I think my problem starting out was that I was so proud, and thought I had made it to the top of some elite club, that I couldn’t take advice initially. In some of my earlier articles, which I won’t link out of SHAME (see, the pic did fit), Unreality readers would make some GREAT points, and I took EVERYTHING as a shot at my writing, and my responses, especially when I read them now, are downright silly.
Please, allow to me apologize for that now. We “writers” are a sensitive lot, and initially that truly got in the way of my writing sometimes, and I am not proud of that. Truth is, the moment I stopped being so defensive and actually took what everyone was saying to heart, it was often great advice, that I was missing out on when being too eager and annoying. Again, sorry about that.
The Readers Have Seen Everything
Remember when Sara and I had a sleepover and watched this in our feety pajamas?
When Sara and I did our He Said/ She Said, we did it based off a movie recommendation that Unreality reader, Mutant Turd, told us about in the comments of a different piece I had done, about bleak films. And that is but one example of Unreality readers (which both Sara and I were before, and still are) teaching the teachers. I can count atleast ten other films I NEVER would have seen, were they not recommended by readers of this site. The same goes for gaming, science fiction, and anything else we are lucky enough to write about.
Now granted, Unreality still gets a few readers who feel compelled to tell me that I suck, but you know what? Sometimes I do suck. I can admit that. I just get all pouty when other people tell me. But over the last year, my unspoken motto has been: If Unreality readers tell me it, it is probably right. Can’t believe I just admitted that to you guys.
My Boss Is The Hardest Working Guy I Know
I am convinced Paul is a vampire from space who doesn’t require normal “human” sleep.
Alright, some of you may want to roll your eyes because it sounds like I am pandering to my boss, but you need to understand, Paul was pretty much my writer role model BEFORE I even wrote for Unreality (the first generation of blogger turned journalist is a pretty mind-blowing feat), so imagine how I felt when he finished his book? The book he wrote about, never once complaining. Keep in mind, he wrote and published this book while still working on Unreality every day, and working on Forbes, and working on his personal life, and the dude never missed a day. Do you guys ever think about that? Outside of a few holidays a year, the man doesn’t even give himself breaks.
And yet, he still manages to release an incredibly well thought out, well-executed book, in an INCREDIBLY easy genre to get wrong, and yet, he didn’t get it wrong. I mean, honestly, one of my highlights of my year was getting to interview him about the book, and his creative process in general. I was such a fanboy, but as a writer for the site, I had to dial that back a bit. But when I interview him, you can hear the nerd coming out in me.
So anyway, the next time you are going into work and bitching, remember, dude never gets a day off. And you wouldn’t even know it because you have never heard him complain. THAT is what really blows my mind. And his drive pushes me whenever I feel like falling down. Also, there are worse things than working for one of your heroes. Trust me.
Don’t Sacrifice A Good List For The Sake Of A High-Concept Article
I love her. I fear her. I simple call her Bea. And she is a recurring force in my articles.
Alright, I learned this lesson the hard way, but I learned it. Sometimes, we want to push ourselves as “writers”, so we will work with a concept piece. Unreality’s own TJ Fink is, in my opinion, a master of pieces like this. And they can be fun as hell to write. But for me, there was one HUGE misstep, and again, because I was mad at myself, I reacted to a (justified) comment with some anger, and I still am mad at myself about it.
The article in question is right here. I was SO proud of it. Of how I managed to work it all out, and have the list be INSIDE of the story. I thought horror fans would really dig it. But, in my haste to make sure everything worked, story wise, I called the movie KIDNAPPED a French film, when it is CLEARLY Spanish. One mistake, but a big enough mistake to take the readers out of the experience, which is what made the piece fail, ultimately. I still think that list is fun to read, but it was a mess up on my part, because, in my mind, I was so focused on a “wacky, cool, fun” article, that I lost site of what was important, which is providing USEFUL, true information to the readers.
While I still intend to do some high concept pieces, I intend to spend much longer making sure ALL the elements work in them. Not just one. And I can’t act like a dick if they don’t work. Some things don’t work. You accept it, admit it to yourself, learn from it, and move on. A year ago, I didn’t know that.
My Favorite Article Is Not Your Favorite
Hey Remy, it’s me, Wade. You should ask your editor if you can show a pic of my scarred penis here. Mull it over. W.W
I have talked with Sara and TJ about this, and the real truth is, the articles you are most proud of are NEVER the pieces that do the best, or get the most “likes”. And that is okay. I honestly think that my very favorite article to write all year was my Six Awesomely Awesome Deadpool Moments, written by Deadpool. I mean, honestly, having been such a huge Deadpool fan for so long, getting to do an article AS him, was just such a joyous moment for me. And while the article may have 120 plus likes now, that is not how it was at first. Those likes happened over time. But regardless to its success, if you had fun writing something, and even a few people enjoyed it, than that is a win.
And yes, like it or not, I will be letting Deadpool do another article soon, so stay tuned. He told me he wanted to do Best Deadpool Team Ups, but I am not confirming or denying that as of yet.
Still Waiting To Hear From Joss
Truth be told, Cabin In The Woods was EASILY the best horror film of the year.
Alright, I need some help on this one. A few people tried to steal this idea when Drew Goddard did an AMA on Reddit, which I was made aware of mere moments too late. But as some of you know, I had a pretty strong pitch for a Cabin In The Woods TV show or comic. Thing is, I couldn’t get it into the right hands. Anyone want to assist me on this one? I’ll cut you in on the profits.
Seriously, we are sitting on gold. Someone help me out with this.
Unreality Has An Even More Distinct Voice Now
I am such a nerd. I thought all the banners in the banner contest were fucking dope.
Again, sorry if this seems like pandering, but being inside of something sometimes makes it tough to judge what is going on outside, as was the case for the evolution of Unreality itself. But look at it now. I can see it for what it is, and it floors me. How did you do it, Paul? You have talent like Fink and David R, who did this badass video. You have Sara Clemens, who has brought an awesome and unique female voice to the site. You have the other David, nerding out with the best of them. And you have me, the dude who is obviously not right in his head.
It is an incredibly wide assortment of distinct personalities, and somehow, we all mesh and converge here perfectly. Honestly, I am incredibly honored to say these people are my coworkers. You think we are kidding, but Sara was telling the truth. We are not just Unreality clients. We are also members. And I am proud to say I still read the site, every day.
To Infinity, and Beyond
This is, for all intents and purposes, the closest you will ever come to seeing a photo of all the Unreality staff together. Five points if you can figure out who is who.
The best part is, as I look back on my first year, and see how naive (and at times, unintentionally ignorant or overly self assured) I was, I laugh, because I know how much room I have left to grow. This is really just the first steps. And in many ways, we are all taking them together. You have Paul and Nat at the helm of the ship, guiding us through the hardest parts. You have someone like me, who is all gung-ho, but knows he needs to sit back quietly and learn some more. You have TJ, Sara, and the Daves (not forgetting about you either, Zack), all walking into this at different points in their lives, all of us with different goals and dreams for ourselves. And for one perfect moment, we are all sitting on the same shooting star, and the future has never looked brighter.
And the biggest thank you of all goes to the Unreality readers. You people have made me a better writer, and a better person. I never fail to learn something from you everytime I write, and I wanted you all to know how grateful I am for that. For this. For everything.
Thank you. Just thank you.
On any other website, this photo would be odd. Here, it is home. Which is exactly why here, I am home.
* And a single, slow-motion tear rolls down his face, as Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ starts playing.
Amen, guys. Amen.