Something very sad happened to me today. One of my professional colleagues surprised me by telling me of a decision. Because of my recent pivot to this new role as Jackson Allen the Author, he didn’t feel he and I could be friends anymore. I’m shocked and saddened, but of course I respect his decision.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about what happened. I decided that I wanted to blog some thoughts out and share this with you. Blogging gives me a platform for ideas that wouldn’t fit anywhere else. Maybe this is something you’ve already experienced and you have an answer for what I haven’t figured out yet.
As I said in the beginning, this is … like … the third act of my career. My real name isn’t Jackson, I’ve got some baggage and I’m just moving forward with my life now that the previously-planned ‘happily ever after’ became ‘not a hope in Hades.’ There’s some stigma attached to that decision and it sucks. As I travel that path, and circumstances change, all I can really hope to do is roll with the punches while remaining true to the goal.
I want to tell stories that people enjoy and hopefully get paid for it. It’s that simple, but circumstances dictate that I find my own way. Because I’m innovating, I have to be okay with being misunderstood. That’s the thing nobody tells you about the creative life: there are moments of genuine heartbreak. It’s bad enough that the public at large doesn’t understand what you’re doing. But when a fellow creative who is also traveling your path rejects you well, part of you dies. After that conversation, I had to take a few circuits around the block and try to clear my head. Continue reading
I was driving in the car today, listening to an old Oasis B-side called ‘Acquiesce.’ Some songs make me see movies in my head and Acquiesce is one of them. Since the song is supposed to be about friendship and brotherhood, I always see the beginning of a movie, where the credits roll over a montage of pictures that show two brothers growing up together.
But then I got a little depressed and I started thinking to myself, “what do you even know about that? You’ve never had that experience.” It’s intimidating to realize that I’m attempting to put into words a story I’ve never lived … what business do I have telling that story or any other? That’s when an interesting epiphany hit me and so I’m sharing it with you: Continue reading
I know I tell sci-fi stories but I think I want to take today’s blog post to talk about something else. Watching Corey Feldman on the Today Show, I can think of no better reason as to why I have no interest in being famous for writing. Some folks have told me that I have to ‘get my name out there,’ in order to make a career out of writing.
“Corey’s got his name out there,” I say. “How’s that working for him?”
I feel bad for the guy. Corey Feldman is building his life all over again. If you’ve never had to pivot your entire life before, it’s hard to understand what a confusing and dehumanizing process that can be. Worse, yet … he’s doing it in the public eye. All of his false starts, faux pas and stumbles are there for public consumption. To be honest, I fear for the guy’s safety, success and sobriety.
Whenever you see a story like: ‘Corey Feldman is BACK with another bizarre Today Show performance,‘ you should know that you aren’t looking at a performance piece. As is common for other abuse survivors, Corey’s struggling with his baggage and embodies one of the painful truths about overcoming your past. Don’t understand what I mean? Let me explain:
One of the things that’s really bugging me about the idea of writing is the idea of being famous for writing. Telling stories is great, being famous is not. There’s a short story by Louis L’Amour called ‘The Trap of Gold.’ I think about a lot as I contemplate writing and whatever might follow.
Have you read the short story? Give it a whirl, it still holds up. In it, a prospector locates a rich vein of gold in rough country, miles from anywhere. The vein sits at the base of a 3oo-foot-tall granite rock that might collapse on him at any moment. What does he risk if he approaches it? What does he risk by walking away? The story builds to an unbelievable amount of tension before its resolution. Even now, fifty or sixty years later, you can understand why L’Amour was such a successful writer.
Enter Jackson Allen.
I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about fame and they come from hard and bitter experience. In fact, they remind me of the massive rock this prospector must navigate to secure his fortune. The given wisdom is that:
- I cannot write unless I can sell books.
- I cannot sell books unless I am famous
- I cannot pursue notoriety without jeopardizing whatever gains I’ve made in rebuilding my life
This is a three-way tug-of-war. I want to save my life without selling my soul. I don’t have an answer for any of this yet. Perhaps we’ll find them together.