Writing about writing: 1

"Playing Zorro" appears on paper

Writing about writing: 1
Cosplay Zorro with cosplay Catwoman outside the National Theatre, oneof many moments that inspired the writing ahead!


Writing is such an experience in itself that it feels like it deserves to be written about. Some of my favourite films are about film stars and film making, and some of my most engaging debates have been about how to debate. It's starting to seem like writing is going to be the same.

Writing my first novel - having so far stuck to plays, poetry, talks, blogs and shameful displays of man-splaining - is going to be a journey, and as such feels deserving of a journal. Come with me and critique me along the way, thus helping me make my novel better. Become intrigued by its contents, and thus more inclined to advance order a copy to be received when it's printed.

(That's right, I'm not above shameless plugs. Profits I make on this project will help fundraise for LGBTQIA+ Pride supporting causes, though, so that makes it OK. In my head).

Chapter 1

Writing is wish fulfillment. Indulging in fantasy is at its root even outside of the fantasy genre. I once heard, though correct me if I'm misappropriating, that Jane Austen once said, "The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up."

The problem, and so the first challenge, for my butterfly brain is either to write enough books to fit in everything I want in a book; or to be clever enough to fit them all in a single book. I chose the latter, and I think I've managed to at least write a synopsis that satisfies it.

I love life behind the scenes in theatre almost as much as I love it on stage, so that's where I wanted to spend my story.

I love the handsome, heroic, romantic rogue that is Zorro; but I don't want to write fan fiction, I want to write about Zorro. Especially the queer-coding, queer-baiting, and (intentionally or unintentionally) queer-relatable edge of his stories, even though Johnston McCulley's original yarns never actually gave us any real queer representation (The Gay Blade movie doesn't count!) until Zorro's origin story was revamped by Isabel Allende. And then her novel version became Zorro the musical by the Gypsy Kings. More of that in a minute; back to the queer bit first.

I love queer representation, mostly for the sake of claiming the word "queer" with pride for myself instead of allowing someone else to use it to try and shame me.

I love being a Poshrat - which is to say, descended on one side from Gens de Voyage - my favourite way of naming the race of which the Romani are a prevalent part - and the fact that while I've never lived the life I still feel an instinctive and intuitive connection to its many trademarks, such as horses, Tarot cards, storytelling, talismans and moonshine.

I love Vincent van Gogh; and I don't just mean I love his paintings. Different countries, different centuries, and yet I can still feel somehow that I love him, in more than just a "fan" kind of way. It's indefinable, and at the same time undeniable, as are many of the things I hold to be true. But I want to write contemporary, not historical, fiction. Which is fine, because it's easier to research and portray realistically. But also not fine, because in modern times Vincent's paintings are only within reach of millionaires.

So - try not to sing the Disney tune - "put 'em together, and what've you got?" Playing Zorro, is what.

In the attic of an abandoned and boarded up theatre, where once a great production of Zorro played to packed houses night after night... (why was it abandoned in the first place, was a conundrum I was struggling to solve in a realistic and relatable way - thank you, greedy and lazy government response to coronavirus! You plugged my plot hole)... sits a cold & hungry friendship circle of young queer actors, who decided to stay and look after each other, rather than join their Poshrat families in resuming their life on the road. Little do they know that their families have squirreled away a treasure to save them from going broke as they seek to rediscover their dreams - undiscovered original Van Gogh paintings, kept safe until they're most needed. The only one missing from the group that once did everything together, is young Fox - raised as a girl, but revealed as a transgender boy - mysteriously missing since he went away to pursue the possibility of achieving his deepest desire: Playing Zorro.

Talk back to me as I talk with you about the progress of this novel as it grows to readiness for publication - by the end, together we'll have created a novel that I love to write and you love to read!

To be continued...

Stephen Stevie Cole
Stephen Stevie Cole
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Stephen Stevie Cole
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