We Are All One
My story, “You Can Go Home,” was considered recently by Jim Finn, of Crossin(G)enres on Medium. He asked me to tighten it up and I agreed. The process reminded me about the importance of editors — I have none, although I am one. I saw how there were segments that added nothing to the story, including a sorry joke that slowed things down. I think the story is much better as a result. It was accepted shortly after with high praise from Jim and a nice reception from the publication’s readers.
How people read me is a mystery. One person who read my Life in the Uncommonwealth collection of stories (available on Amazon) recently found most of it wonderful, except the last few anecdotes “about my wife and me.” There are no anecdotes about my wife and me. The last section contains humorous pieces I wrote for The Weekly Knob, another publication on Medium. The very last one, “A Piscatory Story,” has received more praise than any of the other stories in the book!
“You Can Go Home” deals with a gay character who returns to Puerto Rico after 20 years in New York. I didn’t plan to have the character gay, but sometimes stories go where they want to go and this one went that way. The section of the publication is for Lbgtq readers and, I presume, writers. I had a brief dilemma: should I tell the editor I am not gay? Would that disqualify me in some way? After a few moments thought, I decided that if it did disqualify me, I didn’t want to be published there anyway, and I did want to be honest. So I included that info in my submission.
I wondered if some readers would wonder how I can create gay characters if I am not gay. Do they wonder if detective, murder mystery, romance (etc.) writers can create their private eyes, murderers, sex athletes, (etc.) without actually being any of those things?
I know how I do it: 1. research and 2. friends. I was lucky to have had three very close gay friends (at separate times) during my long life and I learned to love, respect and understand them. I have not had any murderers as friends, as far as I know, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing about hit men and other killers.
One of the things I like most about writing fiction is the opportunity to become someone else, to live for a time inside someone's entirely different skin.
If you would like to read these themed stories — or avoid them — here is the list with a brief introduction to help you decide.
I start with “You Can Go Home,” because I mentioned it in my into. and also because I think it is one of the most developed of the group. It has a strong dose of what I like best, recreating or inventing life in rural Puerto Rico in times past and enriching a story with literary allusions.
The next two stories capture a glimpe of the life of a gay couple when they first meet and when their life together is reaching its conclusion. “My Funny Valentino” appeared in The Weekly Knob — the prompt was a feather — and “Ride on a Rainbow” in P.S. I Love You.
A Latina and her gringa lover are at odds with each other in this story I wrote for Crossing[G]enres. Or are they? Could a dog come between them?
Do you have a favorite pickup line? My character Fred does, but it doesn’t really work in this story inspired by the flash fiction challenge of the LGBTQ Fiction Project, hosted on Crossin(G)enres. The theme was “Friendly Introductions to the Truly Appalling.” To keep readers from being confused about who is talking (and to avoid unnecessary attributions), I italicized the words of one of the speakers.
I watched Arizona Sky on Amazon and though I am a sucker for happy endings, I found some of the dialogue really dull. This is how two high school boys would talk in my movie, a story I wrote for the prompt “Somewhere over a rainbow.”
I used to be apolitical, but times change. This story played with the prompt “Breaking Open” and something that was on my — and just about everybody’s — mind this week.
This story was inspired by a photo I took while hiking in Curacao a few years ago. The contrast between this arid stretch of land along the sea and the lush jungle inland was my “prompt.” I also had just written Naked and Unashamed and had the Eaves painting still on my desk — so that was also part of the genesis. Who knows where stories actually come from! This one — sort of like You Can Go Home — mostly wrote itself. It was published in Lit Up to some attention.