July 12, 2022

Brian Alan Ellis and the Joys of Self-Publishing

Brian Alan Ellis and the Joys of Self-Publishing

This week on Friendless, host James Avramenko is joined by author Brian Alan Ellis (Sad Laughter, Road Warrior Hawk, Hobbies You Enjoy). They talk about living in Florida vs British Columbia, sensitivity readers, earnest vulnerability not playing to modern readers, the ups and downs of self-publishing and so much more.

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Transcript
James Avramenko:

Well hey there sweet peas. Welcome to Friendless the only show that tries to teach you how to be a better friend by losing every friend you have. I'm your host as always, James Avramenko back once more to ask what it means to be a good friend. And whether or not I've been one. This week, I have an extremely special guest on the show. He's the author of sad laughter Road Warrior hawk. The daily year long novel hobbies you enjoy a book I desperately wish I had thought of first. As well as probably the single most influential living artist on me and my writing. He is the one he is the only Brian Alan Ellis. It was such a blast getting to chat with Brian, we talked about living in Florida versus BC sensitivity readers, earnest vulnerability, not playing to modern readers, the ups and downs of self publishing and so, so much more. I absolutely loved getting the chance to speak with one of my favourite living authors. And you know what? I think you're gonna love it too. But Why tell you about it when you can listen to it for yourself. So lean back, get comfy and enjoy my interview with the depressed writer asshole himself. Brian Alan Ellis here on Friendless. How the hell are you my guy?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Oh, I'm doing all right, dude. Okay, I just woke up not too long ago. So I'm finding my you know, my groove? Yes. Yeah, face another day of terror.

James Avramenko:

Now you are you're in Florida, and I gotta say, you know, from from this humbled, terrified of everything Canadians perspective, Florida feels like a place that like it feels like a like a fantasy world. You know? And when you when you when you meet people who are actually from there. I always have this instinct to first apologise, but that feels so demeaning, you know?

Brian Alan Ellis:

No, you could apologise now I lived in Florida most of my life and it's just like, normal. Kind of I live in northern Florida. I've lived all over Florida, but I've lived in like, North Central Florida for like the past like, five years. Actually, more than that, probably more than probably over 10 years because I live in Tallahassee, which is a little farther up North. North. Yeah, yeah. area. But where are you?

James Avramenko:

I'm currently in Vancouver, but I've kind of been I've lived all over all over Canada. Basically. I I'm a little bit of a nomad, you know.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Speaking in Canada are you a Carly Ray Jepsen fan?

James Avramenko:

Obviously,

Brian Alan Ellis:

obviously. Yeah, I'm going to go see her in Cleveland, apparently in September.

James Avramenko:

Fabulous. Oh, my God, you're gonna love it. She's incredible.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, I saw her in Orlando a couple years ago.

James Avramenko:

Okay. Yeah, I had a friend who went to school to what is it called, like, musical theatre school with her? Apparently She was very nice. But but, you know, I think yeah.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I'm duly intrigued by Canada, as well as probably as much as you are about Florida.

James Avramenko:

That's exactly right. I can't I feel like yeah, that gut reaction I have is definitely one you should have for Canada as well. You know,

Brian Alan Ellis:

it just seems like a magical place. To America, at least. Yeah. That way.

James Avramenko:

Yeah. I think that's one of the funny the funny things that I'm never sure how to like approach, especially people from other countries and stuff like that is this question of like, you know, because I think everybody has these, these kind of warped perspectives of what other places are right.

Brian Alan Ellis:

And everyone is kind of in their own little frame of, you know, lifestyle and reference. Exactly.

James Avramenko:

And if there's like a bigger city, right, if there's a bigger city, then then there must be more dangers, or it must be you know, you only ever adds.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah the city I live in is pretty small. It's like a college town, the University of Florida is there. Gotcha. It used to be a lot more like artistic and liberal kind of leaning was mostly people would compare it to Austin at one point, but now it's kind of can gotten overrun by like, you know, they're tearing down shed building up like really crappy apartment buildings for student housing. And it's just like, it's become very like, How lame.

James Avramenko:

I mean, do that, honestly, that is that's the story of basically every Canadian city. You gotta keep in mind to like the thing about the thing about Canada, as I see it is that it's like when you compare them against America. The thing is that it's like the way that each of your states has like these sort of gradients of cities, right? You've got these cities that are like towns, and then you've got places that are like, you know, maybe there's a couple 100,000 Maybe there's something You know, and then they grow up into the big huge cities. We have, like, we have one version of each of those. And that's like, that encompasses our entire country

Brian Alan Ellis:

seems more orderly and you know, not as a Wild West is like Florida can be.

James Avramenko:

Yeah, yeah. Well, I find it endlessly fascinating about America, I feel kind of jealous about that, because I feel like there's, and there's actually something I've wanted, this leads me to something I wanted to talk to you and ask you about is this thing about, like, you know, you you being based in Florida, in a certain way, I find deeply, deeply inspiring, because, you know, from a sort of a traditional literature perspective, you often think if you're not in, I don't know, if you're not in New York, or maybe la from like, a certain kind of like, grungy perspective, then, like, why are you even writing because you have no hope of being seen, you know, and that's actually a very, like, Canadian perspective of like, if you're not in Toronto, you may as well not be an artist, because you'll never make it and you'll never be looked at, you know, and to see the kind of art that's coming out of, you know, Ohio or out of Florida, or these certain places I find really inspiring.

Brian Alan Ellis:

That's where Noah Cicero is from. He started in Youngstown, Ohio, as

James Avramenko:

Oh, shit.

Brian Alan Ellis:

So that's all like a lot of like, his writing is his early writings, like based out of just living in Youngstown, which is a small town where he was like a dishwasher. Yeah, like, I don't know, I find that a lot more interesting than someone who's like writing about being a writer. And it's like, trying to get like an MFA degree and like, yes, kind of in like a weird, clicky backstabbing circle of other academic people from money, whereas like, I always gravitated to like the grittier more like, I don't know, the kind of like artists, though, when it kind of just comes out of like, a small pocket of experience that like is kind of isolated from everything else. I feel that's more interesting. Now, that's more valid art. It's just to me, I don't know, I relate more to that than I would, you know, reading, you know, a book about someone who, you know, is living in New York for the first time, but they have they can fall back on money. And, you know,

James Avramenko:

yeah, it's that

Brian Alan Ellis:

Pretty basic statement for most people who are poor anyways, you're like, Oh, we read the real art.

James Avramenko:

Right? Yeah, these are the, these are the real authentic words. You know, I kind of feel sometimes, and I don't say this necessarily to be super disparaging, but it's like, there's this part of me that feels like, you know, we already have goodbye to all that, like, that's already been written. So we kind of don't need it again. You know, yeah,

Brian Alan Ellis:

well, I think the internet has helped in the past, like, several years to, like, tear that down a little bit, where you don't have to live in a certain area, because the internet so wide reaching that, like, I don't know, anybody can really show their art from no matter where they live, they can live anywhere.

James Avramenko:

Well, and so Okay, so that sort of leads me into a section of something I've been wanting to ask you about is, you know, I was reading in sort of, like, preparation for this and trying to put on my like, good, good. Interviewer boots. You know, I was reading a bunch other interviews of yours.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Real Charlie Rose we got here.

James Avramenko:

Exactly. God, I wish I could pull out a Charlie Rose so much. You know, you've mentioned the past about, like, sort of how you came to writing and things like that, but I'm wondering if you could sort of just talk a little bit about this idea of like, when did you first sort of discover your, your passion for writing because I know, you know, obviously, your writing delves with a lot of like depressive issues and anxiety based issues and things that may, from, from a certain perspective, read like very dour, but I find deeply actually very sentimental and actually very inspiring. In many ways. There's, there's a great comfort, you know, there's a comfort to, to reading this type of material when, especially when you're feeling it yourself, right, you know, and it's sort of it's a it's a nice sort of light. And I wonder, Where Where did where did your, your your passion or your desire to write this type of material come from?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Probably when I got my Live Journal. No, um, I originally started kind of writing, like music criticism in high school. And I would do like zines are like definitely, like, based out of like music, record reviews, interview group spans. When I started writing the personal stuff, I think, yeah, I got the Live Journal, and I probably had a bad breakup. But I think that the stuff that really opened a door for me to like be more of like vulnerable in my writing was probably when I read like Henry Rollins getting the van, which is like his journal entries that he wrote while he was on tour black flag in the 80s. Yeah, there's something about his writing that was like really raw and Like, open and like, I don't know, I related to it, you know? Yeah, I was I was playing in bands at the time and you know, I was young and you know, didn't really know my place in the world. And I still kind of don't but and then

James Avramenko:

do you think there is a place in the world for someone like us anymore? Like, I don't mean like, I don't mean like white men. I just mean like in general. Not trying to suddenly dark with a white man today. I swear this is that kind of show.

Brian Alan Ellis:

No, I just I don't know. Like yeah, after reading that. And then you discover like McCaskey and like Henry Miller and like just all like the moody stupid white guy writers. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, you're a gateway because you're kind of just like a moody, stupid young person. Yep. And then from there, you're just worried just kind of opens up and you start reading female authors and you start reading Yeah, different scopes of authors. And but I've always liked reading stuff that was kind of existential. And but with humour thrown out a little bit. Like, I read a lot of like, all the like Russian and French like existentialists. And that really, like, don't say, ASCII, and Rimbaud and I read all that falcons, which I don't go back and read too often anymore, because I feel like I would just kind of like laugh at it or just like, kind of, like, you know, me, like,

James Avramenko:

it's so self serious. Right. You know, and I think, I think the thing that's really beautiful about that kind of writing is that, like, obviously, there's a power in it, you know, and there's obviously a sincerity within it. But I think that we're in a time period right now, where it's really hard to be, like, authentically genuine and just that, you know, they're there, there's so much you know, there's almost in a certain way, you can almost say that there's, there's a need for a deeper, like, sophistication almost in that, like, you have to be playing with multiple tiers of reality, right? And

Brian Alan Ellis:

yeah, and you just kind of like cater to different groups of people like to like, like, they have sensitivity readers now. A lot of the time. Yeah, that's like a whole new thing that I just because, yeah, I I'm about to start the new John Waters novel. I'm very familiar with John Waters.

James Avramenko:

Oh, yeah. Deeply. Yeah, he's, I've got a couple of his books. But Role model is one.

Brian Alan Ellis:

he had to have a sensitivity reader. And I read an interview about the book and he like, which I think it's hilarious. That's like, high comedy, like he's like, because he's so notorious for being like, very, like, not sensitive. And you don't I mean, like, yeah, absolutely. Like, so the fact that even he has to have a sensitivity readers just like mind blowing to me.

James Avramenko:

Do you find you know, I always find myself like oscillating in those kinds of conversations, right? Because I never want to sound like the the like heart, right wing are being like all these books and snowflakes, right? You know, but and then at the same time, too, it's like, I can't help but feel like by applying these kinds of like, like, pedantic metrics onto these conversations, we're sort of losing that spontaneity and that ability to you know, like, it's kind of fun to piss people off when you're an artist. Right? That's it. A lot of us are when you're young, or the point. Yeah, exactly. You know, it's one of the points is to be antagonistic.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Me, I don't have the energy to piss anyone off. I'm really I also tried hard to keep myself I kind of open and like, I'll make certain changes where I think that might be too much. Yeah, just because I just don't want to deal with that. You know, I mean, yeah, but, you know, it's not like, it's like, I can take it or leave it, I don't have to be that guy all the time, where, like, I'm promoting that kind of reaction. You know, unless it's, like, pertains to the story, or whatever I'm doing. I'm not, I don't care either way. Like, I don't mind, just like holding back a little bit. Sure.

James Avramenko:

Do you find yourself? Do you find? Do you find yourself expressing those kinds of frustrations, like, through your writing more or less these days? Because, you know, because I know, for me, like, you know, those kinds of conversations, I don't tend to actually end up having in my art I end up having with people I'm talking to, if anything, so that they're not, like, recorded, you know what I mean? So that there's like, the can't be taken out of context. You know, what I mean?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Well, for me, a lot of stuff is very personal to like, so it's not something that like, I think, I think people can relate to it, but like, it's not going to be something that's over where it's just gonna, like, alienate a certain amount of people. It's basically I just, I just write about like, my own like little bullshit and like, yeah, you know, it's not like something people can like, take it or leave it. It's not going to be something that's gonna provoke that much higher. You're gonna read my stuff and be like, I can't believe he said this about himself being stupid and eating junk food and united means like, I'm pretty much just taking the piss out of my myself when I when I Yeah.

James Avramenko:

You know, and that's actually the way you frame that is actually, I think, a certain element of what I find really inspiring about your writing. And is this idea that that, you know, because the, and I'm worried that this is going to inadvertently accidentally come across sounding somehow belittling, so forgive me over.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Oh, you know, no one can belittle me more than I already belittle myself.

James Avramenko:

Fair enough. Fair enough. But you don't you don't when when an artist strives to be as big as possible, right and as mainstream and as widespread as possible when you're striving to be someone like, I don't know, like a Kanye West or, you know, like, you're trying to be like, the biggest selling something somewhere. Not only are you building a fan base, but you're inevitably building like an enemy base, right? Yeah, absolutely. You're right, you know, you're inevitably building a list of all the people who are going to be fighting against you. And, and if you kind of go the opposite, and you instead go, I'm just going to write the most honest piece of art I can. And it's not going to appeal to a lot of people, but the people who it does appeal to, it's going to speak to them like it's their best friend, right? You know, it's going to really get into their, into their bones almost, you know, and I think that's a really powerful choice in the kind of current climate of like, you know, you write often about like checking your your Goodreads reviews, or checking your Amazon publisher standing or things like that, and these things that are so exhausting as a creative, you know, and I wonder where you kind of, yeah, where do you where do you fall in that, to your perspective, where do you fall in that kind of, I mean, that's Bactrim of success or whatever, whatever you want to define. Yeah,

Brian Alan Ellis:

there was definitely a time where I was pushing a little hard to get, like, get noticed, before, like, too many people and I didn't really establish what I'm doing now, which is doing I'm missing my own lane, pretty much. Yeah, with that, like, I'm just doing my thing. But there was a time where I was like, Oh, I gotta get on Goodreads. I gotta fucking get on, you know, I have to check my Amazon rankings, I have to, I have to befriend all these people. I have to do book reviews of these certain people. And maybe that'll like, bring me some, you know, I mean, it was kind of I was doing that for a long time. Just because I was so new to me when I started doing the books. Because I've been publishing and short stories and stuff in like journals and stuff, probably since like, 2008. But I always did is like a hobby. Yeah, and when I like my, because I was playing music at the time. So like, when that kind of the energy towards the music thing kind of shifted into like, Okay, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna publish books. And I'm gonna really give it my all. And so for a few years, I was just kind of like, try going flying by the seat of my pants and figuring out what I wanted what I needed to do. And then but going hard, you kind of build up kind of like a bitter resentment towards the whole like system, which is basically how the books that laughter kind of came about. Like, I'm kind of taking the piss out of like, the literary kind of world, either academia online or, yeah, so a lot of that, like, satire just came from my own kind of, like, frustrations dealing with that when I was like, super focused on that. But now, it gave me I look back now and I'm like, yeah, it was all it was, you know, it was, you know, it was fun, you know, stupid at times, and you know, you can make we can laugh about it now. Yeah, so do you,

James Avramenko:

did you find yourself like, did you go through any of those, like, academic academic routes? Or are you known,

Brian Alan Ellis:

I really haven't been to college. I've rubbed elbows with writers who have, like, I'm there's, ya know, like, mentors, they have, you know, they get their degrees and, and a lot of them are, like, really stressed out about that. Like, it's kind of puts them in like a bubble, where like, like, oh, I had this poetry mentioned, but I gotta see what my mentor thinks about it. And like, I want to get on like a certain press. And like, so it can be kind of crippling cuz I know a lot of writers who are in that kind of, like, for a state of mind just kind of sat on their stuff for so long. By the time that they finally like, accomplished what they wanted to accomplish the kind of took all of the energy out of them took like, took like a like killed all the passion in them, because they worked so hard to do something that certain way. Whereas like, if they just don't, they just went a little off course, they might have like, reignited their passion for it and kept going with it. So I feel like it was like a means to a really bad ending. And

James Avramenko:

I feel like you're, I feel like you are inadvertently describing my writing my writing. And I'm listening to you being like ah fuck he's right right?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Well, except for me, I'm definitely not as like, my passion is shrunk since those years of going really hard. So now I'm like, I'm constantly trying to get myself motivated again. So I'm not I'm not excluded from even if you go my route, there's still a chance your soul will be crushed.

James Avramenko:

All right. I mean, the truth of the matter is that like when you're in the arts, especially I feel like in a in a sort of dying art form of writing, and

Brian Alan Ellis:

I know I feel that way so much like, I'm just like, fine. Why don't we do this?

James Avramenko:

Books is where I'm going like, Are you fucking kidding?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, why don't I do books? poetry books, no less work,

James Avramenko:

though. I know, dude. That's, that's I was it. I almost want to say it was you who either tweeted it or retweeted it. Or maybe you saw this quote, that was like, the the energy of publishing a book is the identical energy is not publishing a book of poetry.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Well, I'm trying to think of what that was. I mean, that sounds something about right now like, right.

James Avramenko:

It's just like, it's like, yeah, the the act of doing it is the exact same act is not doing it. You know, like, it's Yeah, yeah, mount. You know, that's what, that's what comes out in this world. Right. Yeah, exactly.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Exactly. But, I mean, you're still connecting people on a certain level, though, too. So like, it's not all for naught?

James Avramenko:

Yes. You know, I mean, I mean, that's why that's why you're sitting here talking to me right now is Yeah,

Brian Alan Ellis:

exactly. See, I'd rather do something and put my energy into something that was like, mixed with the reception, or any kind of like, throwback to how it made me feel, then have not done it. Because I'm just not, I can't, I would rather live with having done something and like failing at it, then having not done it not knowing Yeah, like, sometimes you just need that you just need to put yourself into something even when you know, the results are not gonna be what you thought or what you want. Exactly. And because you might be dead, if you don't, like try to do stuff.

James Avramenko:

That's it, right. But that's it right there, isn't it? You know, I mean, it's like this thing of like, I think writing especially, I mean, I can only speak from the writer perspective, because it's my main art, but like, I think I find that like, when you when you're thinking about a book, or when you're thinking about a project, you're actually in a lot more this maybe hyperbolic, but like you're in a lot more pain than when you're actually writing it, you know, because you're sitting there imagining what it could be, and you're telling yourself in so many ways, you're probably telling yourself all the ways it's gonna suck. But by sitting and talking to yourself like that, you know, you're you're, you're torturing yourself over something that doesn't even exist,

Brian Alan Ellis:

you know, that's the best part of creating is creating. That's exactly it. Yeah, one part is putting the, the object together writing the book, shitty part is when you try to sell a book, or promote it, or like, that's when you kind of question yourself, like, like, is this book really? And I like this, like, should I done this instead, but at the time, you're so focused on the book that like the book is, and that was the most joy you had in this whole process.

James Avramenko:

So that I want to ask you a little bit about a couple of these books. But I want to start at, at House of Vlad, because that's where a lot of these, whether whether or not they're because I know they're not all published through it. But but but this is sort of, you know, you're an editor of this imprint. And what was the founding of this of this little like, what do you call it? It's like an indie press. Right? That's sort of the proper, proper term.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, I mean, it's print on demand, self publishing, whatever you want to call, it all falls under that umbrella. Basically, I don't have anyone breathing down my neck, or I don't have any buttons or anything, you know, I mean, it's just me doing all this shit. Gotcha. I started publishing like, I'm, I was a teenager in the 90s. So ziens were like, a big thing in the underground, because I was kind of, I was into punk rock and all that stuff in Hardcore music. So people made scenes. So you know, I put out scenes and then you know, sometimes we're gonna make a fake imprint. So you know, that's when I started doing more like my personal writing where I would do like little chat book scenes. And I was like, I'm just gonna put it under like a label. Because like, I don't know why not? Because so I created House of Vlad, just to have something to put on the back of these scenes. To make it my heart making more legitimised? I don't know. Yeah. And then when I decided to do the print on demand, I had a I had a poet friend who self published a book of poetry using what I use now, which is the Amazon print on demand book. It was created space back then it wasn't right Amazon didn't buy.

James Avramenko:

Yeah, that's the KDP which is what would which is what, which is how I managed to find a bunch of books. So So internationally, it's crazy.

Brian Alan Ellis:

So many, so much easier to publish a book now than it was to publish a zine back in the day. Exactly. That sounds crazy, but it's true. Yeah. Anyways, I was like, impressed with my friends, poliovirus like, Oh, this is cool. Maybe I should do this. Because I was always writing as a hobby. Like, I was getting published in journals. I had, like a bunch of stories that were already published and like, wow, I just put them out and like a book for maybe, yeah, that's when I started doing the books. And then eventually I meet people and then like, I publish other people. And it just turned into that but it basically started as a vanity project.

James Avramenko:

Okay, gotcha, gotcha. And, and, and you know, so sat laughter is really the one that kind of got I know it got sort of the most momentum. You know, you've said in other interviews,

Brian Alan Ellis:

it was the one that kind of made the least amount of money on that book. Oh, yeah. Books

James Avramenko:

was it now? Are all of these published through house of Vlad or

Brian Alan Ellis:

through civil coping mechanisms?

James Avramenko:

Gotcha. Okay,

Brian Alan Ellis:

which was like Janice Lee and Michael sidelanger. And those those those cats who I'm friends with, I always, whenever I go to like a conference or something, I run into him we hang out there cool. Yeah, I know, Michael for a few years. And he's like He they used to do that contest called the mainline contests where they would like, it was like a tournament kind of thing where like, winners got published by CCM. And I would always get like a runner up. And I but I would never like get like actual but what one time I came close. And Michael's like, Ah, this looks great. But I heard you doing a book about writing. I think that's the one we want to publish. So I was like, oh, okay, so I had to pull that out of a sock drawer. And like gussy it up a little bit, and I sent it to him. They wanted to do it. So.

James Avramenko:

Oh, that's amazing. I, you know, I, you know, one thing one thing, you know, coming back to the eternal debate of Canadian versus American, one of the things that that I always have such a, have such a, like, love lows for Americans is that they're there. You're so much better at presenting yourself. You know, there is this, like, there's this ingrained self loathing in Canadians. It's like a cultural Oh, countrywide. It looks just like a hatred for self. You know, that's very true.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I was reading something. I don't know, like an interview with some writer. Yeah, how many person but they were like, they always thought it was hilarious. American Americans are so like, they could be the Donald Trump's A perfect example is like someone who's so wrong. And you know, but he acts like he's like the smartest man in the room. And that's like, that is like a legitimate American like, personality. Yeah, yeah. The God I have, oh,

James Avramenko:

you know, I have a respect for it in the right contexts, you know what I mean? Because, in turn ugly, it can turn ugly really quick, easily. Right, exactly. But like in these contexts, where it's like, in order to meet new connections, and to be creative, and to build a creative, you know, network and things like that. I think it's invaluable, you know, because I'll go to these readings. And I'll just, like, sit in the back, and I will, I won't even read, I'll just listen to people, and then I'll leave and it's like,

Brian Alan Ellis:

I don't I only go to them if I'm reading.

James Avramenko:

Right. Yeah, I mean, but that's just it, right? It's like it's you know, and it's like, what's the point of even going if you're not going to actually try and make connections, you know, like, because that's like, Well, yeah, for right, you know, yeah, exactly.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah. That's, yeah, so like, yeah, you have to have a bit of that kind of like razzle dazzle showmanship kind of Yeah. which I think came easier to me because I'm playing in bands like I had more like that kind of personality. And like, I'm always in Picard, Harker, you have a community. So it's easier to like, it's not even trying to like schmooze so much, but you just use mean people who are doing similar things to you. And you just kind of that's kind of like how me and but Smith. Yeah, like, we collaborate. We did a book together, we did a few books. And we just kind of found each other. So a lot of that happens, like it doesn't even you can make connections without having it seem ugly, or like, yeah, there has to be some like devious scheme to it, you can just cynical legitimately befriend people who are into the same thing as you are. And I hopefully, there shouldn't be a shame in that. You know, some people are kind of weird about that. And also, some people are intimidated to approach people, like, you know, because like, there's a lot of that going on. We're like, Why is this person talking to me? What does the person want from me? Like, you know, I mean, there's a lot of ego and it can go both ways where like, I don't want this person talking to me, I'd rather talk to this person who can help me. Yeah, yeah. But, I mean, that's pretty much how I met John Lindsay too. Like, he was like, we kind of like didn't know each other, but like, we kind of knew like, he was a fan of the press, and stuff. And he approached me like a, like, I think I met him in Portland during one of the AW, peas, and he just approached me and like, we finally met that time, but we kind of knew each other online a little bit because we interact a little bit, but like, that just developed into a relationship where I published his fucking book. Yeah, it was really well, and now he's shit. Right? The guy who is like, you know, coming up to me reading I love it. You never know you're gonna cross paths with

James Avramenko:

that's just it, isn't it? Do you find you know, because you mentioned in this idea of like, you know, the community you

Brian Alan Ellis:

You mind if I smoke in here?

James Avramenko:

Oh, fuck yeah. I would give a fuck. You're 1000s of kilometres away.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I just want to respect the podcast, right.

James Avramenko:

I appreciate you know what I appreciate listeners, you know, you may want to turn off for another couple of minutes, you know, but I don't want to trigger any non smokers. Exactly the

Brian Alan Ellis:

audio sensitivity smoker.

James Avramenko:

They're gonna hear that they're gonna hear the cloud that really

Brian Alan Ellis:

sorry to interrupt.

James Avramenko:

No, no, you know this thing about like, because you're talking about this idea of with music, you've got this built in community, right? You know, and, and often, you know, like, obviously often there are people who are there for, you know, to grow their career, yada, yada, but there's this, there's a community of a passion, because you're all there for a thing. And that's, in my, in my experience, it's been really hard to find the equivalent version of that for writing, you know, because Because very often it's more isolated. That's because usually, usually, when you're interacting with the artist when you're alone, I mean, it's not like there's not like really very, a very easy way to like group read a poem without being like a total jerk off. Right?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, I feel like a lot of readings are just an excuse for people just to get together. And like, that's like having a show. If you're a musician, or Santa comedy, you want that kind of connection, but it doesn't really translate well with reading. Reading is meant to it's it to me, it's an isolated thing, where you read by yourself, and you, you know, so there's something weird about going up and seeing someone read something to you. Exactly. Like a child you feel like you're like you're like, yes,

James Avramenko:

that's perfect. That's exactly it. And I feel like I always feel very put off. Whenever I'm in

Brian Alan Ellis:

Honestly the best parts of the readings are hanging out with the readers afterwards and gonna get fucked up. Yeah, I mean, it's just an excuse for like a party. Yeah, that's what the whole a like writers conferences are pretty much they just people go in there, sell some stuff, maybe, but they really just want to hang out and act stupid.

James Avramenko:

Right? Right. Do you do you? You know? Do you find that writers are purposefully more? What would the word be like? Do you think? Do you find that some writers are purposely more extremely behaved so that they can write about it later? Like, do you find that it's like, oh, motivator for them? Oh, yeah.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I mean, for sure. I probably even went through that, too. There was a time where I was meeting people on the internet just to get like stories. Kind of, I mean, you know, I mean, I didn't think about I was like, This is what I'm doing. But like, it's like, oh, there's a least give me something to maybe chew on, you know, as like a story. Or like that when I was younger, it was like I would, I would find myself in situations, I wouldn't necessarily put myself in those situations. But I would find that I would think, Man, this would make a certain story. And I would kind of form that in my head as I was, like, experiencing it. I don't do that anymore.

James Avramenko:

But like, because it finds you that takes you out of the moment, right? Because it's almost like it's almost like when you you know when you're like if you're experiencing deja vu the moment you say, oh, there's like deja vu. That's when it ends. Right? That to me is like, right. That, to me is like when you're in those moments, I've had those times I know exactly what you're talking about where you're like, oh, this will be this would be a great story. But that's so like, when I still find it hard to live at the moment.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Sometimes I just like, it's kind of in my head anyways. Yes. Yeah. It's just not as fine tuned as it was when I was younger. Now I'm just like, What am I thinking about? And I forget, like, oh, oh, okay, nevermind. Moving on.

James Avramenko:

Do you think it's like do you think that's, do you think that's a product of maturity? Or is that like, or is that like, alcohol abuse kind of thing?

Brian Alan Ellis:

It could be it could be probably mostly alcohol abuse. I would probably back my shit up pretty bad over the years.

James Avramenko:

So leading So speaking about, like, books he published in the past, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the one that you're you're doing right now the hobbies that you enjoy. And this actually really, I feel like is a really interesting project, especially even from the context of a show like this about the idea of like, implications of social media and the impact of social media on on art and creation. So the, you know, the baseline and forgive me if I explain this, right, totally correct. Correct me but but basically, you've written a little chapter every day of a book that you are posting every single day on Instagram for a year, so

Brian Alan Ellis:

it sounds so stupid when you say like that

James Avramenko:

It's a fucking amazing thing. This is the thing it doesn't have the moment I saw, like, when I saw you tweet about it, I went mother fucker, because I thought that was like the perfect novel idea right now.

Brian Alan Ellis:

You know, like, that's what I thought at first, but now I'm kind of ruining it. I'm like, every day I get to update the shit. I'm like, oh, here we go again. And then I read back to what I'm about to post and like, yeah, this doesn't work on its own. Because sometimes I in order, it was originally supposed to be an actual book. Gotcha. And then I was like, I should just do this because like, I don't know anyone, anyone who's ever done it before. Yeah, really? Like maybe they have but I like Steve anwil is doing it right now too. But he hasn't like, like, I've been promoting it. He just kind of posts something every day. Gotcha. So, I Yeah, so we're both so every day I see Steve's thing and then I post mine and I compare mine has like, oh my god, I'm just gonna Steve's today

James Avramenko:

did you? Did you already write the whole thing and like edit it and prep it or are you writing it?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, it was supposed to come out. Are you familiar with John and Tyrant books and all that stuff?

James Avramenko:

I'm not.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Oh, no, John. Well, he was he had a press called tyrant. Okay, which like Scott McClanahan, Darcy Wilder, he posts a lot of really great books, he was kind of like, you know, he was kind of like, the belle of the ball for a long time. So I love to Okay. And he was gonna start a new press, and meet him correspond through emails and whatnot. And he was interested in this project. But then, and he was about to start editing it with me. And then he passed. Yeah, so I was kind of stuck with this book. And I didn't really want to shop it. I really wanted to do a book with Gianna that was like the man because I can just self publish my shit like, but like, there's some opportunities where I, I did the CCM book because I wanted to see what it was like to publish with, like, outside of my own. Yeah, I might be doing a book with clash books now that I haven't started. Yeah, awesome. Just because I basically this, it's it depends on the press, because I want to, like work with, with certain people. And like, I want to see I want to test our friendships, if it'll ruin the friendship I

James Avramenko:

It's like business roommates, right. work.

Unknown:

But Gian passed. So I had the book. And I was like, I'm still probably going to publish it traditionally, like a traditional book style. But I thought I would just do this to see just never did it before. So that's always the motivation sometimes of doing stuff is like I just, I'm gonna try it.

James Avramenko:

See what happens. Yeah. I mean, it's still it's really cool concept. And I found it, you know, so So for me, you know, the way I sort of, like, reacted to it was that for years, I used to do a thing. I used to do like a poem a day thing on Instagram. And so I'd write a little so you're, you're

Brian Alan Ellis:

you're way ahead of me. Oh.

James Avramenko:

But, but I did it. I did it for ages. And I eventually got to like a point where I was, like, just fucking exhausted. Right? You know? Because,

Brian Alan Ellis:

I mean, were you writing the poem that day and then doing it?

James Avramenko:

Yeah.

Brian Alan Ellis:

See people thought I was doing that hobbies you enjoy. It was like you're out of your mind. I'm not that creative. I go I go months without even having a thought.

James Avramenko:

And that was, that's what I learned was that it's one thing to like, you know, like, so through that project, once I finally gave up on it, I continued to like write for myself every day, you know what I mean? Just just just something something blurb even if it was a piece of shit, it was just like, just something so that I could tell myself I am writer today. I am writing. Right, right, you know, like, just the move the rest, you know, but

Brian Alan Ellis:

I wish I was more like that. Now. I don't. Unless I have like a conceptual thing in my mind. I don't attack it, like, so like,

James Avramenko:

I'm, I'm really I'm conflicted with it these days now. Because you know, after doing that project, and realising how exhausted I was, and how sick of poetry I was, like, I basically I basically stopped reading and writing poetry because I was because I was doing it every day.

Brian Alan Ellis:

And I will you probably see it online every day. If you follow writers and stuff. It gets really Exactly, yeah, it was a new book. I have a stack of books from friends that I still haven't even fucking delved into that I'd like to, but it's hard to like, actually focus when all that stuff is coming at you.

James Avramenko:

Exactly. And you want to be you know, I find that like the best, the best art. Poetry especially but the best art in general comes from like, when somebody's had a life experience, and then has something to say about it. And if and it really links back to this thing about like, nobody needs to read another novel about someone going to New York and getting an MFA to be well, I'm sure there's an audience for that. There's some people who like, I guess. That's why I've got interested in it, because I'm not a part of that.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, so it's basically just finding the right book. Yeah, writing the right book that will connect with certain numbers of people. You kind of just have to write what you want to write. Yeah, well, I find it very fascinating. Like, when people like write for like, a sole commercial purpose, where like, they hit all the spots, they write those how to write a novel in 30 days books. Yeah, yeah, I tested Mosh Bay apparently did that with Eileen, where she wanted to write like a really commercial book easily. I mean, that book was, and I love that book, too. That's actually probably my favourite book of hers. But she wrote it under it says this I don't know how true it is. But like she's she wrote it just to make something that was like a commercial kind of like a Gone Girl vibe kind of thing. Yeah, it's still reeks of a test of Mosh Bay. Like it's not like, you know what I mean? But it definitely had, it's more structured than a lot of her other books in a certain place. So I can see what she was trying to do that. But like, yeah, that looks great. But so you can have that motivation to be commercial, but still kind of keep your own kind of personal artistic integrity. It's very, totally fine blind.

James Avramenko:

Well, that's just it, it becomes, um, what's the word for it? It's almost like you you kind of can't deny your own talent at a certain point, you know? And so it's like, she can write whatever she wants. She's just inevitably it's going to sound like her. Right, right. Oh, and in the same way that it's like, you know, I don't know any number you could think of any other any number of authors, and it's like, they could write in 10 different genres, but they're always gonna sound like the same guy, right? Stephen King's teenagers always sound like they were some made up character in 1950. He wrote it Yeah.

Brian Alan Ellis:

All his books have a certain kind of rhythm to them and his dialogue and he's written a lot of them. Good. Haven't read. I probably read like five Stephen King books. And he's he's Oh, yeah. Well,

James Avramenko:

there's like 100 Oh, it's obscene. How much he writes, you know, but he's one of those II he's doing

Brian Alan Ellis:

Harlan Ellison. That's a great example to like, yeah, even more so than Stephen King. Like, there's definitely like everything he wrote. And he had the wild. Every book had like a weird idea. Mind. I don't know if you familiar to Harlan Ellison.

James Avramenko:

Oh, yeah, pretty much.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah. So, but he's very distinct voice. And yes. So he was he's definitely the best example of that, that I can think of.

James Avramenko:

Yeah, yeah. And it's, yeah, it's an interesting like, you it's an interesting kind of experiment of like, what if you have nothing to say, but it's almost like, you know, it's not a hero of that story. You know, I have to scream. That's just it, right? It's this idea of like, of like, it may not necessarily be that you have an intention so much as you like, you are speaking but but it's how are you saying it? Yeah, style sometimes?

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, because like there's only so many here you pretty subjects you can write about. That's just I tend to fall into the same thing that kind of like self deprecating crippling, garbage, cheap, living kind of thing I've read. I feel like I've written the same thing many times over. But I always have to find a different way to say it in a way.

James Avramenko:

Yeah. The real heart of this show has always been this exploration of have I have I been a good friend? And and and if I'm going to answer that, I'm going to first need to answer this question of what it even means to be a good friend. So I put you, initially to you, what does it mean, to be a good friend in this room? And as a backup? Well, so this is the thing that is a back as sort of a follow up to it. I'll let you go from here. How do you think somebody could be a better friend?

Brian Alan Ellis:

I sometimes feel I could be a better friend to people. I, I'm one of those types that like, someone will reach out, I won't answer their email or the message for a long time. I kind of because I don't want to it's just I just forget, or I just like, don't know what to say at that time. And like, Yeah, and like, there's also friends, I've been close to that I just don't hang out with a lot anymore. Sure. I've always been really low there. To give you an example. Like when I was a kid, sometimes my friends would come over and I would tell my mom to tell them I was grounded. So I didn't have to hang out with them. Because I wanted to hang up on myself.

James Avramenko:

Well, that's, that's such a good one. What a good excuse. I would just do it and hate it. You know, you go, Hey, I just want to be at home.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, but I mean, it's, it's not that I don't like hanging out with people. And I, you know, I do see people often, I very rarely make plans with people. Like it's either I run into them, or there's some thing that's bringing us together like a, you know, a writer's conference, or reading or anything, like that kind of thing. Or a concert, or it could be anything, but I don't know it. And then like, I just actually had a friend pass last week. Who I hadn't seen in a while. And I don't know i You always think Man, I wish I would have like reached out to him more. It was It wasn't like it. Yeah, it was like kind of like a spur of the moment thing that happened. Like it wasn't like, like, wasn't a suicide or anything, but he just suddenly passed young, right? And you're always like, Fuck, I wish I would have like been there more like, explain, have more experiences with that person? Because now they're no longer here. Yeah. But I mean, it's kind of out of your control, especially for me because there's so much overwhelming. It's really hard to like maintain, especially at my age. I think the older it gets harder to maintain friendships. Yeah, so I really don't know how I could be a better friend. You know? I mean, like, Yeah, I used to there was a time where I was wishing everybody happy birthday and fate. Facebook every day, no matter what. And it became so fucking exhausting that I just stopped.

James Avramenko:

No, no, no way that was me attempting to be a good friend.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Kind of, I guess just, you know, a little acknowledgement with like, you know, because I'm on the internet all the time I was with fucking reach out that way. Yeah, but yeah, I don't know. Yeah, I don't know if that answered your question, but

James Avramenko:

it's just it's beautiful. It's it's I mean, it's it's really you know, you know a lot of my questioning stems from my own internal shame and embarrassment and my own anxieties about connection and about anxiety.

Brian Alan Ellis:

exactly the thing like like, yeah, so anxious about like, that's just your email.

James Avramenko:

That's just it, and it becomes this thing about, like, you know, I, you know, like you said something about how, like, you know, you want to answer but you don't know what to say. And that's something I feel every day where, you know, somebody will text me or message me, and I'll be like, Oh, thank you for messaging, but I'm gonna put this away until I'm sure I say the right thing. Exactly. I don't remember to answer them, you know, and I'm like, oh, and now that person hates me, because it's been a week. And I, you know, so no, I really can't.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I don't seem like for the currently I tried to help out. Like, we were just talking about writing and like, How about my, you know, friends who are authors, you know, like, doing anybody in the new occurrence. Here, like, you know, like, yeah, or retweeting their new book, or something. Like, that goes a long way. I think, I think that is a mark of a good friend, you know,

James Avramenko:

for creatives, it's invaluable. I mean, I think I think it's something and it's one of those things that, you know, it's it really comes back to this thing about, like, I think that there's this, like, you know, when when you're writing, especially in this age, it's like this thing about, like, wanting to be honest about your actual state, but then also kind of wanting to participate and wanting to participate in this in this weird pseudo world that Twitter and Instagram and all these things are right, you know, and, and, and it's like you you want to be, quote, unquote, authentic, but you also, like, want to get likes. It's like, I think when people retweet you, it's like, it's such a like, Oh, thank you. Yeah, like, Okay, this.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I love online validation, like, like,

James Avramenko:

I live for it. But I hate to admit it, but

Brian Alan Ellis:

it's psychologically like insane, like, oh, yeah, kind of stress. You put yourself through with that kind of like thought, like, I'm not as bad. But as I was, at one time, I was like, like, why is this motherfucker you're sharing my stuff? I share his stuff. Right? You know, I mean, I don't care. I'm just like, supporting people, like, you know, I can take or leave whatever I do. You know, I love it. I appreciate to know when people actually, like, reached out to me and like, there's my stuff, review my books and stuff. It's like, totally, highly appreciated. For sure.

James Avramenko:

Totally. Well, on that note, is there. Is there somewhere that you would like to send listeners? Is there like, where? Can they check out your stuff? House

Brian Alan Ellis:

of wordpress.com would probably be the place to go. Or you could find me on Twitter, Instagram, the hobbies you enjoys on Instagram every day, and hobbies you enjoy? Yeah, other than that, yeah. Yeah. How's it wordpress.com would be like the place to go. And I have I have a little mini link to my personal like CV on there. Were like, people can run outdoors

James Avramenko:

and poems, and well, it's gonna be all on the show notes. And, you know, so normally normally to close out the the interview I would have the last thing would be we unfriend on Facebook. We're not actually friends on Facebook. Oh,

Brian Alan Ellis:

oh, I know, a friend. You I know. I know you mostly through Twitter, right? or Instagram? Yeah.

James Avramenko:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I'm always

Brian Alan Ellis:

it's up to you. You can either accept your friend request. But if you don't if you want to keep the theme of the thing where you unfriend the person? Well, that's

James Avramenko:

just it, I think, I think well, you know, yeah, I'll send it.

Brian Alan Ellis:

But I respect it. Usually do these things to try and make friends. I know, I know. That wasn't a cultivated community pool.

James Avramenko:

I mean, this whole show is so counterintuitive to what I actually want to do with my life because and I didn't realise it until I got like, I need a gimmick for this. So I'm just gonna do

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, it's kind of brilliant in a way.

James Avramenko:

It's a tonne of fun. It's a good but it's like it doesn't help grow any kind of social. You have anyone else in mind for the show that you don't know, personally? You know, I'm reaching out to a couple of people. I've got a couple of musicians that I'm gonna be interviewing coming up but and, and I've got like a tick talker who I've never met or spoken to.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I don't know anything about that world.

James Avramenko:

It's it's a weird weird app, man. I really I like it, but I also am I feel very old on it.

Brian Alan Ellis:

I have enough Instagrams and Instagrams the last Yes, like that was the last thing i i put my time in my brain shut up there um, yeah, nothing else his Twitter and Instagram are like the the two that's it. Yeah, the last Live Journal comes back in vogue. Maybe I'll jump back on that.

James Avramenko:

Oh, there it is. Right there. Oh, man. Myspace I see I was always a Blogspot guy. I had a blog. I had one.

Brian Alan Ellis:

Yeah, but it was mostly just to promote. I use it as like an effective website. I think I didn't think I used to the way I should have been using it.

James Avramenko:

Man, what a magic time what a magic type of beyond the year like 2003 2002 Is it really is it's just going downhill from here. Oh my god. And that's it. Thank you once again to Brian for coming on the show. Be sure to check out all his writing. I've included links in the show notes for where to buy his books, read, read everything he's putting out. I absolutely love his work. And I think you're going to as well. So please, go out there. Buying independent artists work support independent living writers. He's awesome. You're not going to regret it. But that's really it for another week. If you want to help frame this out, why not try telling one friend about the show this week. Find somebody who loves podcasts, but doesn't listen to us yet. They're out there somewhere I know. Take their phone from them, make them subscribe to a friend list. We're gonna grow this show together one force listener at a time. Or you could just be nice and just tell them about the show that you really liked that would help to wait. I'm gonna leave the process up to you, you know, dealer's choice. Thank you so much for all the love that you've been sending my way this week with the comeback. It means the world to me, and I hope you know it does not go unseen. But let's wrap this up with a wish for a good week. And I hope to get you back here listening to the next episode. But I'm not gonna worry about that. And neither should you. Because that is then this is now. So for now, I'll just say I love you. And I wish you well. fun and safe disabilities.