Something I’ve been struggling with this week… well, for the last two or three years… well, okay maybe for the last decade, actually, is that I am a terrible judge of character. I always see the best in people, and I make friends too easily, and I’m ride or die with those companions, and then far, far too often they turn out to either be terribly flawed and not-so-nice to others or it turns out they only wanted to be friends with ‘Brian Keene’ rather than myself.
Thank you Brian. We'll said. We all need to be more empathetic.
Indeed your wedding, like all, will be a source of drama and stress whether you are a writer or prince or a chemist, whether it’s 2023 or 1987 or I speculate 2040. People get weird about babies, weddings, and funerals. But we sing the battle cry of Offspring’s Staring at the Sun, and forge a path through the hate and chaos, and celebrate these meaningful moments. So if you want to escape and elope, or watch your bride walk down the aisle among hordes of friends, or stare into each others’ eyes at Chickies Rock surrounded by a chosen few, do it. Because life is short and uncertain. Look away from the abyss for a few moments…and marry in the manner that’s meaningful to you, and to Mary; someone will hate it no matter what. I wish you all the best in your future and hope you find more peace than conflict.
After reading your newsletter this week, I couldn't help but think of the song "Keep On Swinging" by the Rival Sons. You should definitely give it a listen at maximum decibels. It captures the tone of what you were saying. If you enjoy it, let me know.
Your friend in the trenches,
Harlan "Spike " Creamer
Thank you for this one. Been feeling a lot of the same.
I really appreciated this week’s newsletter. Thank you.
I appreciate all that you do Brian and hope that my lengthy reply finds you well. Do note, that all evidence would stand to support that I am either incapable or unwilling to give short answers. Moreover, in response to your article, I am a good judge of character. I don't just read books but people. This was not always so. Inarguably, the filter of the internet (rather than face to face) and cynicism make that difficult. I'm one of those people who is very analytical & thereby often state that I overthink everything. When something is being said by whoever, I'll internally ask myself, who is saying it and why? I'll ask, where are they coming from internally that causes them to feel the way that they feel?
Certainly, in life, there have been people who had qualities that were somewhat admirable, though they may be lacking in more important ones (like kindness, humility, etc). The young me would think to myself how that if I could just bend/shape/mold those people into something better how I'd love to have them as my friends. Yet, that's unrealistic. People typically are what they choose to be. Regarding change, an empty prayer isn't the equivalent of real repentance. Real repentance ushers in apparent change. Zacchaeus (the repentant tax collector) told Jesus Christ that if he'd robbed anyone (over-taxed them & pocketed it), he'd pay them back 4-times the amount of money. He was truly sorry & genuinely intended to atone for any wrongs that he'd done. Certainly, that was indicative of a true spiritual turning in his life, moreover it is the exact type of brokeness that is necessary for someone to be a Christian. Masks slip, but integrity is what you do and how you act when nobody is watching.
Rather notably, Jesus said (and I'm paraphrasing) that if someone willingfully acts like a jerk and offends somebody & knows it, to leave their gift at the altar, make things right with that person, and then God will receive their gift rightly. I say that things that are true in one respect are often true in many. Bad things that people do can otherwise taint good things that people do. I don't like it that I see people giving you garbage because you're Brian Keene (i.e. "Eat The Rich"). It creates an ugly president. I strive to treat others the way that I'd want them to treat me.
We all put walls up & hurt makes us do that. The only people who can really stick the knife in are the ones that are close to us. That's really why it hurts the most, not just because we're getting stabbed, but because of who is stabbing us. When I see you on charity boards, and read Bridget Nelson saying how you helped her (inside her book Bouquet of Viscera), and then read someone on social media dumping on you to some degree (You counter-punched. I understand.). Frankly, I couldn't help but think that these two things sounded like they were talking about two entirely different people. It's amazing how many people might feel entitled to talk about you, me, or whoever when they don't know us. That said, I tend to believe you're the better & Ronald Kelly affirms that. If we're wrong - I fail to see how that matters. Really though, I saw how you held up for Ron & his family when he was being treated wrong by his former pastor & everything that you said was right. I too believe that the whole matter was priggish sacrosanct religious-abuse. Honestly, your kindness & response to that matter is what caught my attention & spoke so well of your character to me.
Had Ron have called me, given the circumstances I'd already determined that I felt compelled to be of service to he and his family. Which says something. I personally don't like performing weddings & baptisms because I see so many people that don't hold to them & it depresses me endlessly. A large part of me has often felt like proclaiming that I only do funerals, but when you have to deal with all of the stuff that I have in leadership (like you), it drives us to put up walls and makes us cynical like that - because of all of the bad.
Regarding friends, my inner-circle is quite-small, but it is a good one. Having had an extensive background in music, ministry, working for & running a magazine, putting on a music festival, and being over the music for several, etc. before writing Western Horror books to make money - A LOT of people know me, or think that they know me. Many of them would say that they're my friends (though not close). They'll call out to me when I'm out places hundreds of miles from home & whether I can remember their name or not - I act super friendly (all the time thinking - where do I know them from) and carry on with them. ...And still, my inner-circle is small.
You and Bob Dillion are right, the times are changing. Still, there is a difference in some kid saying, "I can play basketball" and Michael Jordan saying I can play basketball. C.S. Lewis wrote how one of the most damaging lies is to believe that we're all the same. He stated that the Saint Bernard & Toy Poodle are not the same. I believe that in general most people tend to be strong in one area or another, which means if they work in an area of their strength corporately with others it'll produce optimal results. As a professional graphic artist (i.e. a real one), I've often had people come up to me telling me "I'm an artist too!" As a lyricist/songwriter, I've had people come up to me and say "I'm a songwriter too." It's like a sliding scale, isn't it. I told Joe R. Landsdale that within literature I see it like he runs a commercial farm and I just have a little garden. While we've both written books - it's not the same.
I wish you the utmost success in your endeavors. While my sales are continuing to rise & I am making more money than I am spending by keeping a low-overhead (doing events within driving distance/East Tennessee), I dare not act like I am rocking it on the same level as someone who is making a living wage off of this annually. I hope that you receive this in the good spirit that it was meant in. I'm rooting for you.
Thank you for the newsletter. I don't know you personally but I love reading it each week. You are the only person I have ever encountered who has admitted to being anything less than an excellent judge of character. Everyone thinks they're great at it, in the same way they think they're a great driver and a great lover. They're mostly too deluded to even realise their weakness, let alone admit it, so i guess they won't get any better at it.
You write so eloquently I almost forget that you're correct about the world going to pot. Almost. Your post made me imagine a short story contest centered on the theme of AI. I think it's a pure horror scenario ripe for the taking. Take the horn by the balls, or something. Love your writing, glad it's out there to balance the drek.
Brian, whenever you feel down, look at that amazing picture of you with your bride-to-be. I don't even know her and I feel better just looking at her. She radiates warmth and cheer....
Thank you for this.
Very well-said. Thanks for all you do!
It’s all industries that are on fire. We can be the light in the dark of those industries. The lighthouse in the middle of the storm to lead the way. Who knows, you could be that for someone who looks up to you and not even know it.
I felt this one so hard, especially the beginning. I feel like a pushover a lot with people. I love you, man. --Xander Harris