Jesse Teller is mentally disabled. He suffers from PTSD from an abusive childhood. He is bipolar, suffers from daily to hourly hallucinations, and has DID (multiple personality disorder).
He has been a member of the self-published fantasy community for four and a half years now, has published fourteen books, with plans to publish countless more.
Jesse Teller is not a sane man. He has been declared mentally unfit and is a certified madman. This blog series is a glimpse into the way he sees a small handful of his peers and a look into his own mind. This is an excerpt from the third volume of his autobiography yet to be published.
Man, I have been waiting for this one. This dude is fucking cool.
The Swashbuckler can swoop in to a conversation, to a group chat, to any situation and light it all up. Everything he says is encouraging and everything he says is helpful. Picture a dude swinging into a room with a wide brim hat on (go ahead and envision a feather, it suits my needs), and with a bit of fanfare you know he is there. He is beloved by all and popular.
Okay, what nobody outside of the scene knows is that the self-published world is like a high school. You have the quiet dark kids like The Cannibal. You have the academics like The Alchemist, The Druid, and The Judge. You have the fun guys, the guys who love everyone and just get accepted everywhere, like The Panda, and you have the popular kids.
I am not in any of these groups. I am The Lunatic. A lot of people respect The Lunatic, but not many people want to get close to The Lunatic. He says things that can’t be true. He is awkward. He is clingy and he is too loud at the wrong times and too quiet at the wrong times. The Lunatic walks alone. And none of the cool kids read The Lunatic’s books. I don’t know why. I try not to think about it.
There are really five popular kids. The Sloth, The King, The Viking, The Wanderer and The Swashbuckler. They are the cool kids. Everyone loves the cool kids. The reviewers love them because they are all spectacular writers. The readers love them because they are larger than life. The other kids want to be them and they talk to very few people. They have inside jokes and they are off by themselves.
The Swashbuckler is not like that. He is around for anyone who needs him. And man, did I need him.
See The Swashbuckler understands what I am doing, because The Swashbuckler is doing it, too.
He is working on a masterpiece called First Earth. As I understand it, First Earth is a war, a big fucking war. It spans over a dozen books but these books are broken up into series that can be read by themselves. It is masterful. It is sought after by everyone who reads it. It is huge. There are reviewers and readers salivating all over themselves for any book about First Earth. Anytime The Swashbuckler lets slip any bit of information about First Earth, everyone talks about it for days. If you watch, you can see people whispering about it everywhere. If you watch, you can see the ripples it is leaving everywhere it swims. First Earth is out there and everyone waits with bated breath for the next book.
I was still working on my first act. I had five series, all stand alone, where all you had to do is pull them apart, shuffle them back together, and they would tell one story. Lots of off shoot stories, but really it is all about a boy becoming a man and saving the world. It follows him from ten to twenty-two and he faces off against the worst of the worst and, well, you will have to see what happens.
I still didn’t know what happened. I was working on the ends of all the series. See I had started them all and worked them all to their final books, but I had not yet finished any of them. I had five series open and was looking at the downhill slope. At the breakneck pace I had set, I was going to finish them all in one year. I had released three of my standalones and a short story collection, but I had not finished a single series. I was getting scared and I was coming up on it quick. There was no stopping. The momentum was way too great. The entire thing was either going to lift me up or crush me. I had made so many promises, and though my wife was confident, and my alpha reader was not even worried, I was scared to death. My mind was out of control. I needed to talk about it.
I reached out to the only guy who understood. In my desperation, I sent a message to The Swashbuckler and he wrote me back.
I could go get the minutes. Of course they are all right there. I have every conversation I ever had with this man, and everyone I have talked to, right at my fingertips. That is how Facebook Messenger works. But I will not go back and check because then I would have to quote him and I want you to feel what I felt when he spoke to me on this.
I reached out with something along the lines of, “Heard you were doing a big thing. Heard about First Earth. How is that going?”
“Big. Intense.” He probably used other words but get with me here, I am doing a thing. “Heard about what you are doing. It’s bigger.”
“Yeah crazier, too,” I said.
“Well how are you keeping it all straight?” he asked.
“Not sure. It just won’t leave my head. It is kind of driving me nuts really. I think I am losing my mind.”
“You will be fine,” he said. “Just don’t quit. The right people are watching you.” I am pretty sure that is what he said.
We talked a few more minutes about it. He said some encouraging things. He talked for a while about his process, but a writer’s process of writing is so personal and hand-tailored that they guard it covetously. We only talk about it when we feel safe and when we feel ready. I’m not going to tell you what he said to me. He implied it was work for him, that he had to concentrate a lot on it. I got the idea it was not coming easy, that it was a struggle. He had First Earth in hand but he had to hold on tight.
I have this thing, it’s “The Lunatic thing,” where every time I even get close to talking about what I am doing, I run off at the mouth about it. It is a sickness. I can’t shut up. I vomit all of it out without thinking and without stopping. It is why no one takes me seriously, why no one reads my books. But I went a little crazy on him. I told him everything and I think he could hear the panic in my voice. I think he knew what I was going through.
He told me in a very cool way, without talking down to me, that I was going to be okay. That what I was doing was crazy impressive and that I had it all under control. He talked to me about calming down for a while. I know he sensed I was falling apart.
The Swashbuckler brought me to ease and let me know I did have this under control. He said what we were doing was supposed to be hard. It was not often done. Then The Swashbuckler swung away.
He has been there to pull me back when he sees me going over the edge. He corrected me once when I was out of line and told me to just get it together. He has been a guiding force for me and a constant ally.
And watch this.
April 15th 2019, at about three in the afternoon, I remember the day because that was the day Legends of the Exiles came out. I was up. Had been up all day. I was about twenty-two hours into my day, headed to the post office where I would sit in the car, because no one should have to deal with me on days like these, and a reviewer who all writers want reading their books gets in touch with me. He is very interested in reading Exiles. Says it sounds great and he has heard so many good things about it.
I thank him. I manage to keep my cool and not vomit all over him when he says, “The Swashbuckler told me that one day I have to have a conversation with you about your vision. About your master plan. He said that what you are doing is mind-blowing and I need to get involved.”
Now, I have been up for twenty-two hours. I am trembling, I am whirling, I feel drunk and it is release day. It is the day everyone wants to hype up their book. This reviewer has just hosted a guest blog on his site, where I talk about my own child abuse and why I chose that topic to talk about in Exiles. He has heard my very personal story and agreed to air it on his site. So the guy is already invested.
This right here is where I break, right? This is where I just avalanche all of my crazy on this very influential reviewer. But right when I am about to scream and break loose of myself, I clamp it all up. In his message this reviewer had said “one day” and I caught it. I can’t tell you where I am in the city. I am so fucked up that I know if my wife makes me walk home I will wander the streets and eat cigarette butts all day because even though I have a debit card in my pocket, I can’t figure out money right now. Everything in me is telling me this is my moment. But in this totally Lunatic moment, I shut up.
“Well, The Swashbuckler is a cool guy. Very generous. I do have something in the works and I would love to talk to you about it when you get time. Thanks for your interest,” I manage through grit teeth. “And thanks again for hosting my blog.”
Then, in this insane moment, I pretend I am sane and I set the phone down. I bite my lip ’til it bleeds and I wait for my wife to get back to the car. Because not only did I do good in not screaming and running down this reviewer’s street, but I realized one thing.
The Swashbuckler is looking out for me.
TOUR HOSTED BY FANTASY BOOK CRITIC
Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to understanding the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.
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