This time with real writing!
Last fall my friend Steve Berman sold an anthology idea to the good people at Bold Strokes Books. Speaking Out would collect new stories of YA GLBTQ pride. He asked me to write one of them. Specifically, he said, “Write me a story about a gay Muslim at an American high school.”
So I did! In less than a week! 5400 words about a deeply closeted Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper and the circumstances that lead him to come out to his straight best friend. Some of my writing buddies (who know nothing about soccer and care less) really liked “A Shot on Goal.”
When I sent it to Steve, unfortunately, it turned out that the “deeply closeted” part was deeply problematic for the book he had in mind. My character was too conflicted to be proud of himself. Steve and I went ’round and ’round a bit until I got irritated by his utopian leanings and said, rather dogmatically, that the kinds of characters he was looking for were kids I could admire and sympathize with, sure, but not empathize or identify with, so I expected I couldn’t write a story to fit his brief and didn’t wish to try.
Come 23 February. Steve’s deadline to turn in the manuscript of Speaking Out is barrelling down—book needs to be finished by 28 February and he still has holes. Still irritated—I thought “A Shot on Goal” was a great story and I wasn’t likely to sell it anywhere else—I told him again, no go. Not from me.
Then I tried to take a nap. Hadn’t slept for thirty hours. Now, I’m an heroic insomniac if it’s dark outside but put me in bed during daylight and bang! Last Wednesday excepted. Steve’s problem and my intransigence are rattling around. What if…? What if…? What if the catalytic event during the soccer match in “A Shot on Goal” went slightly differently?
New story—in two and half days! “Captain of the World.” 6700 words. Shares eight or ten paragraphs, some stray other sentences, and the basic set up with “A Shot on Goal” and the characters have the same names. But it’s a different story (more soccer! yay!) with different aims, and after a few tiny changes this one met with Steve’s approval.
Bold Strokes Books’ Soliloquy imprint will issue Speaking Out in November.