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.