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    For Better, For Worse

    michelleMichele Karlsberg: What is the best and worst part about being a writer?

    Michael Graves: I have always been a fiction writer. My father and I, when I was a child, would sit together in his La-Z-Boy recliner and he would teach me how to form letters. I recall that “c” was always tricky, and “s” was simply stubborn. My father encouraged me to practice, practice, practice. At seven years old, I debuted my first literary effort. It was a short story that involved the Easter bunny, some sort of romantic drama and baskets of treats. I must confess, it was no masterpiece.

    I love the writing life. Most paramount is my affection for the characters I create. Each one is special and sacred to me. They are the vehicles that assist me in revealing my stories. Through them, I can become anyone. A roller rink DJ star. A pop icon from the nineties, or a whiskey-slugging senior. I can saturate myself in the world of an Iraqi soldier. I can be a former child actor, or a ghostly grandmother. Most recently, with my new novel, Parade, I am able to mash my feet into a pair of high heels and transform into Reggie Lauderdale, a boy preacher who fashions his own glamorized religion. Hallelujah! I often think of my characters as my children. However, I relish in their misbehavior.

    words3When pressed, I have to admit that my least favorite aspects about being a writer are common calamities. This includes form rejection letters, paper cuts and the constant need for pricey printer cartridges.

    michele(But) it’s a wonderful life.

    Michael Graves is the author of the forthcoming novel, “Parade,” as well as the collection of stories, “Dirty One.” He is a lambda Literary Finalist. Connect with Michael at www.michaelgravesauthor.com

    Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene: The best part of being a writer—there are so many best parts, I’m not sure how to choose one. The best part is…that I can take a moment, no matter how hard or perfect, delicious or horrid, and I can sculpt it with words, I can draw, paint, build a world of words that resurrects that one moment, any moment I choose. And that moment, which otherwise might have melted into some ethereal wisp of smoke in the back of my mind that I barely remember, instead becomes something eternal and concrete that I can hold on to. Forever. Because I’ve written it, documented it.

    The worst part of being a writer is…if that moment is a painful one, if that moment is something I wasn’t sure I could live through, something I don’t want to remember I survived, then I—mesmerized by words as I am—still want to build a temple of words to honor that pain. Once I have painstakingly documented that pain with all of these syllables of mine, there will be a place where the worst I’ve seen lives, dressed in the best words I could find. That’s a kind of strange torment—the beauty of a lyrical articulation of rage, angst, heartache. There. Forever. Whenever I want to remember what I’ve lived through.

    michele2

    So this is one of those times when the best of something and the worst are the same.

    Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene is an Ijaw and Urhobo Nigerian dyke poet and performance activist. She’s published four collections of poetry, produced four solo art exhibitions and her first novel, “For Sizakele,” addresses transcontinental identity, intimate partner violence and queer gender. www.myloveisaverb.com, twitter.com/myloveisaverb

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-six years of successful book campaigns.