You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a frank and funny look at how Felicia Day's unconventional formative years set her up to become the talent she is today.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)Publisher: Touchstone
Length: 272 pages
Author: Felicia Day
Publication date: 2015-08
For anyone who loved the web series The Guild or enjoys the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, this is a frank and funny look at how Felicia Day's unconventional formative years set her up to become the talented writer, actress, and gamer she is today. It's not all unicorns and long raids with gamer pals; Day writes very honestly about tough times balancing the good, the bad, and the Internet trolls. Being in her early 30s means it's a bit soon for a "memoir", but I hope we won't have to wait half as long for the follow up as I am sure Day has loads more creativity, fun, and humour in store for her fans.
The casual reader may be amazed to learn that Day was homeschooled (I’m using the term fairly lightly), and never completed high school, yet went on to achieve nearly perfect SAT scores, a full scholarship to university, and a double major in math and music, to boot. Day is driven to please, and when she chose math and music she was trying to make specific family members happy, plus satisfy herself with nothing less than a 4.0 GPA.
It was only upon graduation that Day realized that a 4.0 means almost nothing when you want to get a job and become self-sufficient. Her next move? Head to LA and become an actress. Day is nothing if not ambitious, and possibly a bit impractical, as well.
It’s no surprise that the next part of the book is about how tough it is trying to get off the ground in Hollywood. Day’s first paid acting gig never amounted to a dollar -- she got hired by a porn director trying to make something a little more artsy than his usual fare, and by the time she tried to clear her check the entire operation had evaporated. In her words, "The first dollar I ever made acting never existed." What can one do but frame the bad check and move on?
Fans of The Guild will absolutely love the section that goes behind the scenes and tells of how the show got started, from not paying the actors, to not feeding them very well, to not having the funds to pay for proper filming permits, and shooting many scenes out of Day’s apartment. Day was adamant about complete artistic control of her project, which meant it was really hard to get funding. If you ever thought a web series would be a cinch to pull off, I’d definitely encourage you to read about the obstacles of script writing, actor-recruiting, and general dumpster-diving, here, to get raw materials for creating sets in tiny spaces. It’s not for the faint of heart, and will make you appreciate the six-season web series all the more as Day clearly poured her heart and soul into the effort.
One of my favourite parts was about Day’s growing popularity at comic conventions and her litany of stories about running into sci-fi and fantasy celebs and having a tough time talking with them, just like a normal person likely would. It's easy to see her as a super successful Internet entrepreneur, but this memoir offers a serious look at just how much legwork she had to do to sell DVDs and finance projects on a shoestring budget. Day is the ultimate do-it-yourselfer.
The tone of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) turns decidedly dark, as Day bares all about her two year gaming addiction for World of Warcraft, plus difficulties staying focused, and getting caught up in destructive patterns that kept her from the productive, creative work she clearly loves. Body image issues and deep depression factor in, as she struggled to stay in control of her intellectual property, her online image, and her health.
Day punctuates her writing with photoshopped images from her childhood, among other sources, and snarky superimposed text to drive points home. (For those who get to see the digital edition of this book, you’ll be treated to full colour photography.) Day is self-deprecating to a fault and yet so naïve and sweet that it’s not hard to believe that this hard-working woman has managed to pull off all that she has.
As each new project launches, Day writes about how caught up she would get into trying to perfect scripts and maintain those all-important connections with her fans, all without annoying or alienating a single person. She’d read through all the comments on any video she ever posted, making the same ridiculous mistake we all tend to do: focusing solely on the loner negative comments when the vast majority were positive and supportive. As she notes, when you get to the stage in a project where everyone is tired and cranky and people start to say, ‘It’s good enough’: “I hate that point. It’s either perfect, or it’s the worst thing ever made and everyone is an artistic failure, including myself.” No pressure!
Indeed, Day is a very public personality in an age when sharing increasing amounts of detail about yourself online is the new normal. Her memoir doesn’t hold back, describing not only all she has learned and accomplished, but the high cost of achieving those goals. Any reader will finish this book with a new appreciation for how hard she works for her creative vision, and how lucky we are to have a wonderful, weird personality like Felicia Day working to change the face of online entertainment.