Category: college

3 days left to get my book for FREE

freebook2My book Scab is now a number ONE bestseller for free Kindle books in the memoir and art categories. Only 3 days left to get your copy for FREE.

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my book is FREE

My book Scab is a memoir of college and crisis. You can get the book for FREE today through Wednesday.

freebook

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.

Thank you.

my book is published!

from scab to scar

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.

art

“‘Cause we all know art is hard
young artists have gotta starve
Try, and fail, and try again
…”
Cursive, Art is Hard

“Art is not the world, art is in our hearts…”
-Showbread, Stabbing Art to Death

“Let me ask you something, what is not art?”
-Unknown

I used to draw.  A lot.  My childhood was spent with a Slim-Fast in one hand and a pencil in the other.  I often sneaked into my sister’s room and pulled out her charcoal sketches of dragons and Axl Rose she kept underneath her bed.  And I copied them.  I learned about lines and shading sitting on the floor of her room, surrounded by the waxy smell of drugstore makeup and wall-to-wall posters of hair metal bands.

An artist was born.

I devoured sketch pads and ground colored pencils into stumps.  As much as I loved toys, I loved drawing utensils equally.  I couldn’t wait to try a new type of marker or a new color of crayon.  I drew my favorite superheroes and created my own action figures out of paper.  But I was never incredibly creative.  My artistic endeavors were derivative of the enormous amount of Saturday morning cartoon I consumed and my eventual discovery of anime, which I was into way before it became so huge here in America.  I was ahead of the game back then.

I learned to shade and highlight.  I learned about depth and perspective.  All from doing it on my own, from observing, from drawing, from constantly creating.

I was good at copying.  Any attempts to be original were mediocre at best.  But when I was younger, I wasn’t preoccupied with being original or unique.  I just genuinely enjoyed drawing and having fun with it.  I was good.  It gave me pleasure.

But sadness and insecurity crept in and my mind became poisoned and I became a perfectionist.  People noticed my talent and were impressed.  And somehow, people began to inflate my abilities.

“Brannon drew a picture of my daughter and it looks just like her!”

“Brannon doesn’t even use an eraser!”

“I heard Brannon doesn’t need to draw from pictures, or from life.  He can draw from memory!”

“One time, I saw Brannon sneeze on a piece of paper and then when I looked over his shoulder, his snot was in the shape of Mona Lisa!”

None of this is true, of course.  But for some reason, in some people’s minds, I’m better than I actually am.  And that was a part of the insecurity.  I felt I could never measure up to people’s outlandish expectations.  I was my biggest critic.  Eventually, nothing I drew matched the image I had in my head and it frustrated me.  I knew I was better, more capable, but for some reason, I couldn’t translate the image from head to paper.

There were times when I got away with reaching people’s expectations, or at least that’s what they told me.  I did a few commissioned drawings.  But eventually the stress became too much and I stopped charging because my art was not worth anyone’s money.  And eventually I stopped doing drawings for people all together because I couldn’t afford to jeopardize the reputation bestowed upon me by others.  I never lived up to the hype, never went along with the adulation and as much as I tried to downplay what I could do, no one believed me and I suddenly I was a small town art prodigy.  And wanting to please everyone, I didn’t want to produce low-quality work and prove everyone wrong.

I had been painted into a corner, so to speak. Continue reading

book notes #12: cutting

As I previously mentioned, I have been hard at work on the second edit of my book.  I’ve made a lot of progress since the new year.  I’ve found doing a little bit at a time really does add up to large chunks of accomplishment.  It feels good to look at my Post-it bookmark and see it slowly but surely (and consistently) moving toward the end of my black binder.

Throughout the course of my book, I chronicle my encounters with hipsters, douchebags, bitches, sluts, tweakers, and kimono wearing opera singers.  And I talked about how much they, and my classes, sucked.  And to be fair, I talked about how much I sucked as well.  You’d think after reading about that much sucking, the reader would come out a little more satisfied, eh?

I already had a suspicion I should reel back on the reaming of others but after going over the book again and again, all the constant complaining is unappetizing.  So, I cut out a lot of the negativity in regards to other people and even myself.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of self-loathing (it wouldn’t be Bran’s book without one) but I have definitely scaled back on the bad attitude.

I’ve also cut out a lot of repetition.  I used my blog as a reference while writing my book and the way I wrote my entries was I often gave a lot of back story and repeated information for new readers who had just come upon my blog, allowing them to catch up on the happenings before they dived into a new entry.  But all that extra information doesn’t translate well to a book because it’s one reader, not a slew of people coming and going.  Once I’ve established all the info to that one reader, there’s no need to rehash any of it.  Taking all that excess background noise has helped lighten the book considerably.  Or at least I hope.  I look through all my pages and most of the text is crossed out.  I’ve got at least 89 pages to cut so getting rid of the repetition and cutting out all nonessential information and some of the negativity will help me do that.

I know I keep on droning on about this stupid project and hardly seem like I’m making progress but since it’s my first book, I want it to be as good as it can be.  Plus, I think all the time I’ve sat on it and waited and developed my writing skills has made the book stronger than it’s ever been.  That’s not to say it’s even good at this point but it’s miles ahead of where it was a year ago so I don’t feel bad about not rushing it into publication.

I do want to have it published this year, though.

georgia on my grind

I’m still toying with the idea of going back to Georgia during my time off from work.  The only thing really holding me back is that 8-hour drive.  If I could just have someone chauffeur me around, that would be great because I’m pretty lazy and I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort.  I also have to take into account gas money and the cost of a hotel.  I could manage but the money would be better spent elsewhere.  Then again, it is my vacation and I deserve to splurge a bit.

It would also be nice to at least have someone to go with me to keep me entertained and possibly halve the driving duties.  Work girlfriend said she’d go if she weren’t…you know…the actual girlfriend of someone.  So, little good that did me.

Ideally, I’d go back to Forsyth Park and watch the puppies play as I wrote a masterpiece of some kind.  The problem is I have no ideas.  But going there could produce some.

It could help me with the memoir I’m writing.  Maybe taking a walk through the historic district would drum up some long forgotten (or repressed) memories.  I like the idea of walking next to those cobblestone roads once again, retracing my steps from when I was greener and impressionable, seeing things now through more experienced eyes.

I need to get away and I need some inspiration.  I also need someone to drive me.

I looked through several of the pictures I took while in Savannah and it depressed me.  I realized that I missed out on so much and made so many mistakes.  I wish I could go back and do it again (don’t we all).  Sometimes I wish I had never gone in the first place.

2006.  My first day in Savannah.  I was very happy.

 

book notes #10

After yet another break (I don’t even know why I keep stopping), I’ve picked up editing my book again.  I’m also more than halfway through so that’s pretty exciting.

Although I get disappointed with myself because of all this stopping and starting, the good thing is when I take an extended break, I come back and feel refreshed, like I’m looking at my book with renewed vigor.  I also tend to be a bit more brutal with my red pen, which is excellent because I have to cut at least 80 pages, which will still make the book too long, but at least it’ll reduce it to an annoying length rather than a totally unreadable one.

I’ve also finally decided to keep the book mostly about the college experience and less on my life as a whole.  That will help me cut out some of the length as well.  I realized I could shed more light on my life through subsequent books instead of trying to cram it all into one.

Yet, I’m also annoyed because when I pick the book up again after a long absence, I feel more and more separated from the story.  I originally decided to write the book in hopes it would be a therapeutic experience but over the years, I feel I’ve worked out most of the issues I explore in the book.  I thought writing it would help me work through things and it has but I suppose not as much as I had hoped.  Plus, because I have mostly accepted the events and resulting ramifications, I don’t feel as much of a push to finish.

I probably will finish but I’m just not on fire for the project like I used to be.  I’m not exactly sure why.  As I mentioned, I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that it’s not as healing as I hoped it would be.  And as I edit, I see it’s whiny and repetitive.  Cutting out the repetition will also help shorten the book but how can I fix the whine?  That’ll be harder to do.  I have a penchant for not finishing anything so I really need to see this one through.  Even if it is a complete disaster.

As much time as I’ve spent writing about writing the book, I probably could have just finished the thing already.

book notes #8

After writing, on and off, for about four years, I have finally finished the first draft of my book.  And when I say on and off, I mean I wrote for about two weeks, then took four months off, wrote for about 5 weeks, then took two months off, etc.   So it’s not like I labored tirelessly for four long years straight through.

But I have written more in the past several months than I have in the past several years and it feels good to finally be finished.  Of course, I’m not completely finished but I’ve written the work and the real magic (or madness) begins with editing.

Speaking of, the book ended up being 589 pages!  That’s way too long.  And you all thought I was long-winded with my entries.  Imagine them all crammed together and bound into a book.  Although, to be fair, it does cover an entire school year.  A lot of stuff happened.  But I’m going to have to make some difficult cuts to trim the size a bit.

The bad part is I already left some things out that I didn’t think were important and I even rushed the last section because I thought the book was running too long.  But hopefully I can even it all out after a few edits.  Once I cut out enough stuff, I’ll feel more comfortable going back to the last several chapters and fleshing them out a bit more.

After I finished, I went to print out the book so I could really go in and start marking it all up with my red pen.  But after about twenty pages, my printer ran out of ink.  The next day, I picked up some more ink and went home and changed the cartridge and after about 200 pages, I ran out of ink again.  Maybe I’m not an ink expert but does ink really run out that fast?  Trying to print this thing out is already becoming annoying and costly.

I hope the editing won’t take more than two months and then I’ll send it to a few people for more editing/content and just to get a different perspective.

It’s going to be weird when I really am finished.  Like I said, I’ve had this project close to me for four years now, even if it has been on and off.  But when I put it out there and no longer sit down and revisit those memories and events, it’s going to be strange.  Might even be like a part of my day is missing. 

That’s not to say there will be an empty space.  I already have plans for a follow-up book and then I want to participate in National Novel Writing month coming up in November and I have the book I wrote two years ago for National Novel Writing month that I would like to mold into something nice.  So other books are in the works and I should keep busy. 

But for now, this one means the most to me.

book notes #7

I underestimated how drugged out and nauseous I would be from the surgery so I wasn’t able to get as much work done on my book as I would have liked.  I thought I’d be able to get a lot done because I would be off work for a good seven days but I spent most of the time in bed and in pain.

But despite being dizzy and general feeling of grossness, I was able to complete the second part of my book.  Well, the majority of it.  The last chapter took me this past week to do, partly from my fractured concentration and partly because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to convey with that particular chapter.  But I was able to squeeze something out and so that’s good.  I can always go back later and polish it up but I can’t keep writing if I’m stuck on that one part so I’m glad I was able to finish it and now I can move on.

I have about twenty-something more chapters to go and the third part will be finished and the first draft of the entire book will be done.  Finally.  After working on it on and off (mostly off) for years now, it’s finally looking like it’s coming together.

Then, the rewriting and editing and rereading will start but I hope it won’t be as time consuming as writing it all out from scratch.  With the material right there in front of me, I should be able to work at a faster pace.  I just have to make sure it makes sense, conveys what I’m trying to say, and is entertaining.  We’ll see how it goes.

I have some concerns regarding my story, though.  As we all know, I’m long-winded and I feel it’s going to be a long book.  I could cut some stuff out but I hesitate to do that because I want to present the full picture to the reader of how everything went down during my time at college.  I could shorten it and make it a bit easier to read but it might not be as enjoyable.  Then again, it might not be enjoyable to read a 500 page book, especially with people’s short attention spans these days.

And what if I’m only good in short bursts?  There’s only so much alliteration and whiny emo bullcrap one can take before it’s not fun to read anymore.  I might be able to crank out a decent essay every once in a while but is my writing strong enough to carry an entire book?  I’m not so sure.

As much as I would love to be the next Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath, I’m not sure it’ll happen for me.  I shouldn’t expect as much, especially considering I’ve been here for three years and have a very small readership.  And so sometimes I think I should just write the book how I want to, as if I’m the only one who will read it, because it’s quite likely that will be the case, and just use it as a cathartic tool to deal with the troubling times I had at college.  I hope that, if I can make a good book out of it, something creative and beautiful, it will help me cope because it’s still a painful time for me to think about.

In fact, while writing the book, I had to relive a lot of memories and it forced me to examine my actions and behaviors and frequent outbursts and it’s really embarrassing now to see how I fell apart so easily and how I still haven’t fully recovered, even after all of these years.

I hope to be done with the third part in the next month or so.