Just why I want to promote or even sell a book that holds some of my deepest, darkest secrets - things that I thought would be interred with my bones, is beyond my understanding. Still, the army experience of a gay man in 1967 is too important to shut away and be lost. Surviving an American Gulag was originally penned as a play in 2000 - a rather curious drama with moving sets and a limited cast. When I approached the material as a novel, I immediately found that I wasn't telling my own story, but fostering a point of view. The first draft was in the 1st person and began with a harangue against the military and five yards of gays in the military history. After several false starts at revision, I decided to get out of the way of my own story, cut the preachy crap and just delve into the deepest pit of recollection. I remembered many more souls - lost ones, and many other incidents. The result was satisfactory to me. So much so, I should have burned it as a catalystic excercise - the kind you expunge to lose weight or to stop bed-wetting. Then I thought about the lack of work revealing just how the military handled its "gay problem," before they opted for that lame don't ask, don't tell business. The publication matter was settled. No matter how poorly you judge me as a person after reading Surviving an American Gulag, the record will stand and no one can ever sweep it under the rug or back to the grave where I had intended it.
Edward C. Patterson