My life is a giant load of dog crap. And now I feel like I’ve come to a fork in the load.
This past Friday, June 10th, marked one year since I published my first book. I think it’s a safe bet to say it flopped. It’s not so much it’s gotten bad reviews. It’s just hardly gotten any reviews. I can’t help but to wonder what’s worse: people not liking my book or people not caring about it at all?
I shouldn’t be surprised. I couldn’t even get friends and family to read it for free before I published it. Why should I think strangers would pay for it? I just had this small hope in the back of my mind that maybe life would give me a break and maybe, just maybe, something good could happen to me. As I’ve said before, I never expected to become a millionaire from this book. But I did think I would at least get some recognition and maybe enough support and encouragement that I could continue my writing career, which could eventually lead to a bit of success.
Instead, this book has been one of my biggest disappointments. I guess I just don’t understand what it takes to grab and keep someone’s attention. I’ve blogged for about a decade now and have gained little-to-no audience. And despite how people say I’m a good writer, I must not be because no one is reading, no one is sharing, no one is commenting. I am consistently publishing my pain to cyberspace where it’s thrust beneath pop culture clutter before eventually vanishing.
But it is what it is. I can’t make people care. And thus, I barely care now myself.
I wanted to make a difference. I wanted readers to get something good from the book. And I wanted to show my parents that I could support myself with my art. I hoped the book would some how make up for my crappy college experience. I thought, “What if I could turn this jolting journey into something meaningful?” But I’m seeing now there’s no meaning to be had.
I really had faith in the book and my ability as a writer, or at least an amateur writer. I know I’m not amazing but I thought I had some good ideas and a good style that could translate into something entertaining, educating, and ultimately, valuable. And now that faith I had is gone. And more than the disappointment that my book didn’t do well, I am ultimately disappointed that so many people in my life did not care. I’ve had several people tell me they bought my book and when I followed up with them weeks later, they told me they never actually read it. Or they got started and then never finished. Thanks for the support, you guys.
They say it takes a village to raise a writer. And when you look into the creation of a book, through the author’s telling of their experience to their acknowledgements page, you see that they didn’t just sit down, write a book, and then get it published. They had friends and family and connections. People who gave ideas and feedback. People who helped with plot points and continuity. People who provided support. People who provided encouragement. And I didn’t get much of that. Out of the dozens of people I asked to help me, about two actually did (and you know who you are and thank you).
It’s not just a failure of my art. It’s a failure of me as a person, as someone that someone else cares about.
Which brings me back to the fork in the load. Should I press on despite the lack of support? Should I believe in myself anyway or should I take this as a sign that it just won’t ever happen for me? Maybe I’m just meant to stay where I am, miserable and on the lower end of mediocre.
I failed as an artist. I created a short animated film that no one watched. I failed as a writer. I wrote a book that no one read. And now I have failed as a friend. I’m not worth people’s time, apparently. So, what’s left for me?
So, I think I’m done.
“I was supposed to do great things
I know the road was long
But I wasn’t raised to shoot for fame
I had the safety on
I cut my ties, I sold my rings
I wanted none of this
If you start from scratch you have to sing
Just for the fun of it…”
-Cold War Kids, Miracle Mile
I’m a failed artist. I created an animated short film no one watched. I’m a failed writer. I wrote a book but no one read it. And I’m a failed person. I tried to give myself to others but I have no friends.
So what’s left for me?
It’s weird because now that I’ve written my book, I’m almost entirely over writing. While I had another book in mind, I’m likely never going to write it. I could write it for myself. But I would also want it to be professionally edited. And I can’t afford that. I couldn’t even afford to have my first book edited but I thought I might make that money back in book sales. That didn’t happen. Not even close. I can’t take that financial risk again. And if I can’t make the next book the best it can be then what’s the point?
And when I think about it, there’s a piece of me that doesn’t even want to blog anymore. It’s partly because I’m burned out on writing and partly because no one seems that invested in my words. I had that same exhausted/defeated feeling when I finished my student film in college. After I exported that final animated file, I had no desire to do another one.
Now that the book is done, I feel a huge weight has been lifted from me. I wonder if that’s why I don’t feel the urge to write anymore. Maybe I had this need inside me to just finish this one project, to get this story out of me. And maybe all the other writing I did was a distraction. I was writing and it felt good but I wasn’t working toward that one true act that would bring me the most satisfaction. And now that I’ve finally accomplished it, there’s no need to continue with the distractions.
It took a long time to get my book published.
I ran into several obstacles along the way. I went through two broken computers, a word processing program that crashed, a keyboard that stopped working, an editor who flaked on me, friends who flaked on me, and worse, my own crippling insecurity that held me back from finishing my book for well over six years.
I wanted to give up several times. What if my writing wasn’t good enough? What if my story wasn’t good enough? What if no one cared? Despite my fears, I kept going because I felt the book had potential. I knew going in that it wouldn’t be a book for everyone and I never intended to write it for the biggest audience possible. In fact, toward the end, I realized I needed to write the book for me. It’s been a scab that I’ve picked at for the longest time and I knew it would never heal if I didn’t find a way to finish it. It’s been a therapeutic experience and I’ve actually learned quite a lot about myself and other people through writing this book. And if someone else can laugh or cry or relate in any way, then that’s great as well.
And the relating thing is why I didn’t want to change my book around to appeal to the widest demographic. I wanted the story to be as personal and authentic as I could make it and if I were to tinker with facts, to make it more dramatic or action-oriented, then it wouldn’t be my story anymore and that connection through a similar experience would no longer exist.
So, with that in mind, I kept going. Sure, the book could flop. But it could also do amazing things and if I just kept it to myself, I would never know.
Is it a perfect book? No, not at all. But it’s the best I could do and I think despite some of the flaws, it’s a damn good story. And in retrospect, I’m almost glad it’s taken these six plus years to write the book because I do feel I’ve become a better writer in that time. I look back on some of my earlier drafts and they are not good at all. I thought they were at the time but if I were to have published the book then, I wouldn’t be as proud of it as I am this version. And I might not be proud of this version in the next few years but I just have to take a step back and realize that this was the best I could in this moment. We all continue to grow as we work on our craft. Perfection doesn’t exist. Only full utilization of one’s ability at the time of production. It’s a hard lesson for a perfectionist like me to learn but I’m getting there. The book wouldn’t be published otherwise.
And that’s how my book, Scab, came to be. Now it’s a scar on the world, a mark that will never go away. It’s in the actual hands of other people now. My words are penetrating and I hope, in some small way, they are transforming.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of my book, please do so. It’s a memoir of college and crisis packed with commentary on relationships, romance, faith, friendships, God, food, starvation, anxiety, loneliness, mania, people, art, culture, death, and a whole lot of dick jokes. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. And by the end of the book, it’ll make you feel triumphant.
It’s only 99 cents, less than the price of a Redbox. And you don’t even have to put on any pants to obtain it. You can read more about it and buy it here.
Thank you to those who have already purchased your copy. I am so thankful for your support.
It’s almost here!
Did anyone watch Town of the Living Dead on the SyFy Channel? If not, it was a docu-series about a film crew in Jasper, AL who were struggling to make a full-length zombie movie.
I was excited to watch this show because 1)zombies and 2)I actually chased a girl to Jasper and that’s where I had my first kiss. So I have a special attachment to that city.
The show chronicled this group of amateurs as they struggled to put together scenes with no money, no special makeup effects, and no idea what they were doing. It was funny and endearing. It almost felt like I knew these people because I recognized their accents and southern colloquialisms.
Usually I cringe at southern representation on television because the shows always make the people seem like uneducated hicks. Maybe I’m in the minority on this one but I never felt the cast of the show were put in a bad light or made to look like white trash. Sure, they were country but that was a part of the charm.
But instead of showing these people farting in each other’s mouths or filling up the bed of a truck with water and using it as a redneck hot tub like you’d find on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Town of the Living Dead actually showed people with aspirations beyond drinking beer and mud riding. They were creative and passionate about their project.
One cast member, John, was the writer and director of the zombie movie. I related to him the most. He was a creative guy who dreamed of making a film but was stuck in a small town with very little artistic opportunities. While he worked on the film in his spare time, he earned money by working at RadioShack. Here I am, also a writer and also stuck in my own retail hell. I feel ya, brother.