Thank You for Your Support

On Sunday, I addressed how I was feeling in a post explaining why friendly ribbing after posting my novel cover’s mock-up was wearing on me. I try not to be cynical, but the support after posting that was beyond what I expected. Thank you.

Since I called out the issue, I wanted to also address the response. Too often problems get all the attention and no one gives appropriate consideration of how the problem is then handled. The response was beautiful and everything that I love about this community. Thank you (again).

After a fun stream of Guild of Dungeoneering for a larger than normal crowd, I showed my book cover and a few hours later, I wrote the post on my website to explain that it wasn’t a great feeling to put myself out there and feel dismissed from friends, then I screenshotted the crux and hopped into bed, trying to ignore my anxious feelings that I had overreacted or that I hadn’t but would be seen as having done so or that I’d reacted too soon or that this could be an unfortunate turning point for me and a community that I genuinely love. It wasn’t.

When I woke up, I had 20+ Twitter notifications. People who clicked the heart, people who typed <3, opinions on the cover both visceral and in-depth. There were direct messages and even apologies from people who hadn’t done anything but wanted to know if they ever had or what they could do to help me feel comfortable. It felt like I was being taken seriously, which is what I wanted. No one questioned the post or suggested I was overreacting or anything I had pessimistically suspected might happen. The Hoomans, some whom I rarely get to chat with except during big gatherings, just accepted that I wasn’t feeling great about the night before and tried to reverse that even if it meant going out of their way. I screenshotted everything to remember it. Please know that even if I didn't respond, I saw it and I appreciate it.

Still, I wanted some distance to relax and it was my last day in the States before flying to Korea, and the last day with my dog which was unfortunately drizzly and we only got a few short spurts through the neighborhood and park, and I had packing to do. I responded to a few people but mostly stayed off Twitter.

The next morning, I was stuck in the Springfield airport waiting for security to show up for work so I could go through and wait on the other side of the metal detectors. I used Snapchat for colorful Snapsterpieces, mostly hooman themed as I wanted to say I’ll always love this group but I didn’t have a great way to type it so instead I drew little in-jokes as people responded with their “safe travel” wishes, and I thought that’d be that, this quiet return to form.

Then a lot of notifications started rolling in. And I drew more. Being awake for 21 of the past 24 hours, I thought everything I drew was hilarious. I responded to people. Talked. Laughed. And everything felt… different but good again. In a way, it felt like overcorrecting, like people were being too nice, almost kid-gloves nice, but whether that was true or not, I appreciated the sentiment motivating the conversation and we quickly had long chains about accidental boners, what marijuana looks like, butts butts butts, and how there weren’t enough molars (never enough). Some typical hooman discussion. And it kept me on Twitter all through my Chicago layover, even when Captain Bob drove us on a tour about the airport’s runway before getting more fuel and delaying us two hours, and it kept me happy.

I honestly thought I’d have to stay off Twitter due to travel and limited internet while I got settled, but I made about 60 tweets in 6 hours. Then I landed in Korea where I slept in an airport jjimjilbang (spa with a sleeping area, common place for cheap sleep)and had airport WiFi the entire time so I kept tweeting and responding. Then I showed up in Yeosu and immediately had an apartment as the guy I’m replacing is currently staying with his girlfriend.

It worked out that I could be on Twitter as much as I wanted. And after the wonderful response, I wanted to be on Twitter a lot.

It’s hard to express how much all of it meant to me. The direct support after the initial post and the general warm feelings the day after and all the usual love--thank you. Thank you to anyone who tweeted, hearted, or even just read it. Thank you for listening and accepting how I was feeling. 

Too Much

The passive-aggressive ribbing from friends is wearing on me tonight.

I put up a mock-up of the cover for my novel Eidolons using an idea I had after looking at my well-loved copy of The Catcher in the Rye. It’s one of my favorite books for how Holden rags on everything, not because everything is phony and flawed, but because he’s a kid with generalized anxiety disorder expressing his irritability. His whole world could change to whatever he wants and it’d be perfect and he’d still complain because the issues are inside him after his brother died of cancer, a classmate killed himself by jumping off a building, and an authority figure touched him in a way that he wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve gone through it 20 times minimum. I kept it in my pocket while working construction. It baked in the sun in my car. It has water stains from spills running up the back. Highlighter marks and pen scratches and creases and duct tape on a torn spine. It’s one of the most beautiful books I own because it’s visibly used.

So I took that idea for my book.

I outlined the book’s cover to get its exact dimensions, slightly warped. The “original book” that TK appropriated was a nondescript 3.5-by-5.5” white rectangle. I made sure not to include the identifiable rainbow corner of The Catcher in the Rye. I drew in wrinkles, folds, and scratches. I taped over the “original” title, adding the legs of slightly visible letters, and then whited out where the author’s name would’ve been. It didn’t work great because I just had the white out tape and it was white-on-white. Then I shaded in rectangles for the duct tape spine and drew used stickers with barcodes and class numbers on the back that admittedly look shitty. I’m not an artist. It didn’t look right because it was all done on computer paper, too clean, too new, too white. So I tested out this coffee-and-oven technique used for antiquing paper. How hot and how long the coffee’s been steeped affect the color of the paper so I tried a few times to get the right color. Then I added real duct tape to the spine. Went out and bought white out. Folded it into book form. I did everything to make sure it looked good enough that I could be proud of it. Something I could show a designer so they could get an idea for what I wanted and they’d do it right.

I’m not a professional at any of this. I would love to be good at this. I had to look up the antiquing technique and I tried it five times before doing it to my cover.

I’m just a writer and a teacher and when I showed it to you, it would’ve been fine if you ignored it. I’m used to that. I made videos where I read the first 6 chapters of my novel; the final chapter got 3 views, but at least no one said sarcastic nothings about my rambling, reading, or writing.

When I put my cover out there, that’s all I really heard.

Holden Caulfield might not have known he was complaining because he was suffering from anxiety, but in my novel Eidolons, TK suffered a tragedy and as he dealt with it, he became too much work for his caretakers. He was too negative, too angry, cried too much, too inconsolable. And eventually, they gave up. So he started putting on an act to tell everyone he was okay. He makes constant jokes to make light of everything, even his death, because he can’t say anything he really feels for fear of abandonment once again.

That’s a really sad life.

In private, in public, the comments I got didn’t say anything with their empty sarcasm because you’re too afraid to say whether you like it or not. It’s not “cool” to express yourself honestly so you make jabs, trying to--do what? To feel better? To fit in? To escape without giving an opinion that might be challenged? All without thinking what you’re communicating to me, the guy who worked hard on something that you just dismissed.

While I’m not keen on hearing you wouldn’t buy a book with that cover, it’d at least be an opinion with some feedback to improve it or to go a different route.

I’m leaving for Korea in about a day, as I mention quite often, and I probably won’t be on Twitter or elsewhere online until I settle in around Dec. 7, and I’m hoping this break will do me some good because I’d rather not deal with the stress of digs and demands of people I generally count on to be a fun, supportive community. “It’s all in good fun” and friends show love cruelly, but sometimes it’s too much.