April 16, 2001

Author Retells Sexuality Struggle

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“I don’t know anything I could do that I would feel embarrassed about telling,” Douglas Martin, author of the book, Outline of My Lover, said about honesty in writing during a reading of his book Friday in McGraw Hall.

The reading was sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual (LGB) Studies program; and The Risley Kommittee. During the event, Martin read excerpts from his novel and discussed writing in general.

Outline of My Lover , which has autobiographical elements, focused on a young man growing up in Athens, Ga., and is an “outline of a boy’s sexual awakening,” according to Martin.

The book follows his struggle with sexuality and his romance with a rock star. Martin read highlights from the novel, including sections entitled “Graduation” and “Childhood.”

Besides reading from the novel, Martin also discussed his style and approach to writing.

“When I got up each morning I wrote a page for the day,” said Martin about Outline of My Lover.

“I’m always writing and hiding what I write from myself to keep writing,” he added.

Martin said that because of his constant writing, he had to take breaks from the piece he was working on.

“I feel like breaks are important because I write so autobiographically,” he said.

Martin also placed an emphasis on brevity in writing.

“I’m very interested in brief writing,” he said. “When I started writing I wanted to get away with saying as little as I could.”

He also talked about writing about himself.

“The actual writing is not the hard part,” he said. “The hard part is being so connected [to the subject].”

While being connected to his writing can be difficult, Martin said that he has learned not to be affected by what others think of his actions.

In the lecture, Martin discussed the effect other writers have had on his own writing.

While discussing these influential writers, Martin said looking at where writers succeeded and failed was important in developing his own writing.

“I think you can learn as much if not more from failures,” he said.

Martin’s other works include a1998 collection of haiku poetry, The Haiku Year, which he coauthored with six other writers, including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, singer and songwriter Grant Lee Phillips, and filmmaker Jim McKay among others.

Martin also discussed some of his plans for future writing. In addition to a book called Once You Go Back, about him and his sister, he will also be combining his first two novels into one and working on an erotica piece.

Outline of My Lover was nominated for an American Library Association GLBT Book Award, and also a LAMBDA literacy award (awarded to authors and publishers who exhibit merit in Gay and Lesbian literature). In addition, it was also named International Book of the Year by the Times Literary Supplement.

Martin was chosen to speak at Cornell because “there was a lot of interest among students in young contemporary authors,” said Gwendolyn Dean, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center.


Archived article by Kate Cooper