During his high school years, he was like most teens who grew up in small towns, he wanted to move away and pursue a dream far from the confines of a small community. He had a burning desire to get as far away from that town and as soon as he could – he couldn’t get out fast enough. He wanted to shake the haunting memories and the life that he thought he should have had, but hadn’t had. He wanted out so badly he hadn’t considered where he was running too, just as long as he wasn’t in the shadow of that town.
When the time came, he was gone!
He didn’t look back as he passed the city limits – he didn’t even think twice. He was free at last. But as the months and years passed, he still couldn’t separate himself from his past. He traveled further and further away, yet, he couldn’t get far enough away. He kept running, running away from a past that he didn’t want to claim as his own.
For ten years he ran and was still no further from the past than when he started. Finally giving up, he realized that no matter where he traveled, the past would always be there, stalking and haunting him.
Less than one year ago, I began to write a novel OUTED BY ANGER. Angrily I wrote about a young boy coming out in a small rural Oklahoma town during the 70’s. Hate, bullying, prejudice were the key words in a politically charged theme attacking the establishment. Just this past week, I re-read the first six chapters of the incomplete rough draft. In my reading I was stunned that I was perpetuating the very theme that I was taking a stand against: HATE.
I stepped back and re-examined the very story that has been in my head since I was in high school, now the beginning of a manuscript – a manuscript that turned my stomach. This is not the way I had intended to tell this story.
I began at the very beginning of the manuscript and started editing the story. Instead of a narration from the hindsight perspective of an angry man, I turned the voice into that of a confused and naive teen boy. Through the eyes of a teen boy, the story unfolds. My hateful and angry prose were replaced with compassion and sympathy for a boy on a journey through his internal confusion and insecurities. A story of navigation along a rough road of discovery into small town politics and religious prejudice. A tale of a boy with only one objective – to escape the town as soon as he could.
That boy was me.
As I write this story which parallels my own high school experiences, I’m coming face-to-face with my past, the very past I’ve spent my entire life running from. Yet I’m sensing that in writing this tale, it might possibly explain what has eluded me for so very long. What exactly was I running from? Or was I running toward a destination which I had failed to define? A story which began as a coming-of-age story about a young teen boy, may very well become a journey of revelation for the man who is writing it.