“Let’s rehearse the song and verse
the graceful dance of dying
when my friends mouth their validation
I can tell they’re lying…”
-Showbread, I am Horrible at Processing Rejection
Somehow, one of my coworkers got on the topic of my book and I shrugged it off, told her I was over it.
“I want to buy a copy.” Yeah, sure. That’s what they all say.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Yes, it is,” she said. Yeah, sure. They all say that, too.
I shrugged again. She told me not to give up, to believe in myself, even when no one else did. I smiled and thanked her just to drop the topic.
The thing is it’s not so much about me not believing in myself. Despite a lack of confidence, I believed in myself enough to write a book. And I believe it was a good book. What bums me out is that no one else believes in me. I already feel so alone and insignificant having not contributed anything to anyone or anything, never having changed someone’s life or fixed a huge problem or created a piece of art that enlightened. I’ve just existed, taking up space and eating Doritos by the ton. It’s not a good existence. It’s no quality of life.
This book has helped me suss out all the insincere people in my life, the false cheerleaders, the fake friends, the ones who said they cared and showed they didn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve realized it’s just about all of them. And I didn’t have many people in the first place. So, chop chop, they’re out of my life. But I don’t feel any better, don’t feel like I’ve solved anything.
A few days later, that same coworker who was all about buying my book (she never did, I’ve been checking my sales. I told you) posted and inspirational quote on my Facebook wall. But that inspirational quote didn’t mean anything to me. Anything meant to be inspirational doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, holds no weight, does not move me. In fact, I read these inspirational memes that many people post on their walls and I just chuckle. God bless if it gives them comfort but to me, it’s just words shaped into a sentence intended for a smile. But I suppose those quotes are meant for those who still have a shred of hope left. I just bypass them and move on to the next post, a cat video or political cartoon.
Words mean nothing to me anymore.
Don’t tell me you believe in me. Don’t tell me I’m talented or funny or good-looking. I will not believe you. If anything, it will steer me toward not trusting you. Because I know the truth and I don’t need your charity lies.
But, if I’m supposed to be a writer, shouldn’t words mean everything? I tried to incite change through my words. I tried to drum up understanding and conveyed my heartfelt desires and losses through my words. I wanted a reaction. I wanted a response. But if my words continue to be rejected while their words are shoved down my ears, eventually eroding into empty symbols, how can I reconcile that?
I suppose it’s because I’ve never tried to cheer anyone up with my writing. I’ve never tried to write fluff to form a happy face. That’s not to say it’s all been negative or hopeless. When I first started writing in my teens, I was depressed even back then. But I still had some hope. And my writing showed that, exploring my feelings while holding out for a better future. Unfortunately, my future was blotted out with bad decisions and bad jobs. But with my book, even though it was filled with despondency, in the end, I tried to realistically write an outcome that was hopeful without being cheesy. There was hesitation. There was hellfire. But through it, there was human spirit. It didn’t go down smoothly but it was still palatable.
I just like realism. And for me, false positivity is not realistic. Let’s all just be honest about how things suck. But that doesn’t mean we should wallow in it (I know I’m totally guilty of doing this and I’m a huge hypocrite). Naturally, no one wants a downer. But I feel like people who are too happy or too positive are not to be trusted. It’s not about suffocating your sadness with another fake smile. And it’s not about spreading your sadness around like you’ve just peed in the pool. Ideally, we’d all find a balance, allow ourselves to go deep into the depression while also pointing out and appreciating the good moments. I feel like I succeeded in doing that in my book. In this blog? Not so much. But I’m better at it in my daily life.
The meaning of all things is slipping away. It’s hard to be inspiring. It’s hard to maintain connections. It’s hard to be a person when you’ve been voided out of humanity. Sometimes it takes something so little as validation, as a simple follow-through to turn a person from a floating glob to suddenly gathered together, allowed to finally find footing and move forward.
My relationships have no meaning. My life has no meaning. Food and taste has no meaning and now the last thing I had in my life, words, no longer have meaning to them. These are words you are reading but they are not reaching you. I will never reach you because as I’m writing this down, you’re writing me off as someone who is too negative, who is too sensitive. But I’m trying to tell you that while those things are true, I haven’t been given the kind of support most have. You try to be all smiles when your classmates and colleagues say they care and then crap all over you at the first chance they get.
There was a bird in my chest once, a heart made of feathers and profuse love. It sang with hope, with teenage newness and the shimmering hope of a better tomorrow. It took flight around those I admired, those I wanted to love me back. But those very people reached in and stuffed its mouth. My bad luck plucked it bare, then Life itself stepped in and stripped the flesh of writing and relationships until that bird was a just a skeleton, hollow enough to be blown away by the first gust of wind, then dropped back down to earth, shattered.
But I guess that doesn’t matter, now does it? It’s just words. Words I’ve said to people in the past to convey how I feel, to tell them they hurt me, that I’ve been disappointed, that I’ve felt abandoned. And I’ve been killed by their quiet, their apathetic rigidness. Their excuses. Their lack of sympathy or apology. I can only guess their callousness means their birds don’t sing anymore, either.
“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.
So, I took about a month off from most social media. After the complete failure of my book, I felt pretty bummed. It’s not so much that I expected to sell one million copies but when you can’t even get your friends and family to read a book they know is so special to you, it’s disheartening in the worst way.
And because I’m passive aggressive, I thought, “I’m just going to remove myself from the Internet for a while, see if I leave a hole of some sort. Maybe someone will miss me.” I needed someone to realize I was gone. And I needed it to make a difference for them. It was a sad (and lame-ass) attempt to feel like someone cared about my existence. But, um, no, no one did. I’m sure no one noticed I was gone.
It’s kind of amazing how much we can expose so much of ourselves online yet still be so invisible. In a sea of memes and selfies, it’s hard to find recognition. Especially if you aren’t very good-looking. If you’re not a shirtless dude or a girl who constantly hoists her boobs into every selfie she takes, not many people are going to give a flip about your book or song.
These days, people seem to care more about lip fillers than a fulfilled life. I can’t really blame them. I love a good cat GIF as much as the next animal lover but all these junk food-like distractions keep us from relating to each other. Although I want to laugh and be entertained and shut off my brain, I also crave connection. I want to know my struggles are not my own, that someone has already plowed through the path I’m going to have to travel on one day.
Maybe I wouldn’t take all of this so personally if I didn’t rely on it so much. If I had friends and fulfilling relationships, I wouldn’t need to lean on anonymous Internet accolades. But when I was younger, I was weird and the Internet was my only friend. Now that I’m older, I still leave people scratching their heads and the Internet is still the only one who seems to listen, to recognize, to give me some semblance of a mutual understanding.
I’ll never look better than I do right now. And my memoir was the best writing I’ve ever done. So, if people can’t get on board with my beard or the way I bared my soul in my book, I suppose there’s nothing I can do to win anyone over. And I’ll just have to be okay with that.
After the disappointment of my book, I contemplated whether or not I should ever write anything ever again. And there are many days when I feel I’m done with writing all together. But there are also other days when I still feel this strong urge to write. It’s not all about attention but about resolution as well. Even though I’m virtually unseen, I am still very much a human with complicated emotions and a thought process that could rival a hurricane. And with no friends to confide in, I must turn somewhere to organize the mess, to release some of the pressure, to try to make sense of the situation that’s been handed to me.
I started writing as a therapy tool. And then I thought I might possibly make a career out of it. But now that I see it will never happen, I’m falling back onto the therapy. And I think I’m really only doing that until something more effective comes along.
So, from hiatus to hi, I’m back (at least for now). But I want to shift my focus, to post more of what I want instead of what I think others might like. It’s almost kind of freeing because it’s not like most people are going to see any of this anyway. I tend to filter my writing with an audience in mind. But with the realization I have no audience, it’s time to get more real, to go deeper, to be bolder in the exploration of my disgusting existence. I want to examine the desolate husk I’ve become, not to find a solution as I’m far too gone for that, but to purge myself of the hatred and the agony, to be clean for when I come to the end of the line.
I’d better hurry. It won’t be long now.
My book Scab is a memoir of college and crisis. You can get the book for FREE today through Wednesday.
Here’s a few excerpts of reviews from my book’s Amazon page:
“Jackson’s style is crisp and clear. He has an uncanny talent for meshing pathos with humor in a way that is both deeply moving as well as just plain fun.”
“I love Brannon’s attitude about it all. As difficult as it was at times, his sense of humor, humility and outlook on life are uplifting.”
“By the end of this book, you will see the resilience of the human soul and psyche. No matter what depression may visit, a person springs back into life, even if unwilling at points, and goes on about his business. Brannon has done a tremendous job of conveying this concept, all with a candid, darkly humorous recollection.”
“Scab took me on an emotional roller coaster of emotions that I didn’t want to end.”
“I think anyone whose ever moved away from the safety of home to pursue a dream will find something to relate to here. I honestly couldn’t put it down.”
Click here to read the synopsis, check out the full reviews, and grab your copy of the book so you can go deep inside my head. You will laugh. You will cry. And by the end of the book, you will feel triumphant.
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.
After more than five years of writing, planning, editing, and worrying, I’m proud to announce that my book Scab is now available to purchase.
When Brannon Jackson enters a reputable college, his dreams of becoming an artist quickly crumble. His dorm room is a dump. His roommate is a horny hipster. And one of his first professors is a tyrant packaged in pixie form. Things get worse when he inherits secondhand stink on the college bus, stumbles into a series of sexual situations, and nearly gets kicked out of his assigned housing.
Brannon’s priorities go from purchasing paints to preventing panic attacks as he attempts to navigate the complex and frightening word of human relations. Stunted by several social pitfalls, including public speaking, dating strangers, and escalating tension with his roommate, he soon discovers his college course load is the easy part. It’s the people placed in his path who aren’t providing passing marks.
Combining heartbreak and hilarity, this coming-of-age confessional composites a portrait of a young man’s attempt to become an artist and adult in an environment of hot weather, cold hearts, and an abundance of art school nudity.
Since I am a new author, I’ve set the price of my book at 99 cents for a limited time only. I want the reader to feel comfortable taking a chance on me and my book. If you purchase it and it’s not your cup of tea, you didn’t waste a whole lot of money.
And unlike the new 50 Shades book, you don’t have to feel ashamed about owning mine.
You can order the e-book version here.
If you don’t have an e-book reader, no problem! You can download the free Kindle reading app to your computer. Get it here.
If you prefer a physical copy, no worries. The paperback version will be added soon. I’ll keep you updated.
And I would appreciate it so much if you would help me spread the word. You can tweet my book’s availability if you’d like.
You can also share the link to my book on your social media:
Just copy and paste the above link and make sure there are no spaces between the “h” and the “t” after you’ve pasted it.
Once you’ve finished, if you enjoyed the book, please take a minute to leave a review. It will help me tremendously.
Also, if you don’t mind, you can use the sharing buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word on social media. Thank you so much! This has been a long time coming and it feels good to finally be able to share my book with the world.