A Dream Realized

Cover of my first book, My Queer Life.  Design and photo by Callen Harty.

Cover of my first book, My Queer Life. Design and photo by Callen Harty.

When I was in about second grade or possibly third I remember sitting at the feet of my Great Aunt Leona, listening to her talk about writing. She was a poet, composer, and a stringer for the Wisconsin State Journal, one of the three daily newspapers everyone in our hometown subscribed to and read. I loved books already by then and admired her for being a writer. I knew then it was what I wanted to do with my life. In third grade the teacher was already posting my poems on the bulletin board for the whole class to see (thank God those have been lost). Being a published writer was a lifelong dream.

The reality is that I have realized that dream for years. I have had poems, essays, and articles published. I have had two dozen plays produced. I have been paid to write and have won awards for the writing I’ve done. But the big dream was always to write a book and now–just now–that dream has been realized. My first book, My Queer Life, is now available on my own web page, createspace.com, and on Amazon.com and hopefully in bookstores and elsewhere soon, too. Holding a copy of it in my hands is indescribable. Knowing that it is my work inside the cover of the book hasn’t even really sunk in yet. Pretty soon others may be holding it in their hands and reading my words after buying a copy of it. It’s sort of mind-boggling to me that people might buy and read a book that I wrote and I can barely contain my giddiness over it. I have been smiling and ecstatic all night.

The book is a literary collection of various essays, poems, pieces of plays, speeches, and more that I have written over the last thirty plus years around the topic of living an authentic life as a queer man in a straight society. I believe it is universal. My friend, Arno Michaelis, who wrote the foreword, has dreams of straight kids carrying copies of it around and learning more about all of us getting along. I think it has the potential to create more understanding or I wouldn’t have published it.

The average number of books that an author sells is 500 copies. That’s it. That takes into account those that have sold a million and those that have sold none. But the vast majority of books don’t sell more than that. I’m hoping I sell thousands, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ll be happy with anyone who decides they want to purchase one.

And I’m not going to stop there. I’m already more than 125 pages into my second book. It will be called Empty Playground: A Survivor’s Story and will be an autobiographical book about surviving childhood sex abuse. I’m also about 230 pages into my first novel and have another couple ideas roiling about in my mind already.

For today, though, I’ll enjoy holding my first book in my hands and knowing that I have fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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1 Response to A Dream Realized

  1. Joseph Lutz says:

    I’m sure this straight kid will be getting a copy to carry with him.

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