The official website for brian koukol – a disabled writer of crip lit. hp gas online


Even for short stories, the road from creation to eventual publication can sometimes take years. In the case of my own “ Fashion Emergency,” which went on sale at Amazon this week in the sci-fi anthology The Chronos Chronicles, it took exactly three years and one month. Why so long? Well, for that answer, we need to take a little trip back in time.

In 2012, at the age of thirty-four, the ticking of my existential clock reached a deafening din, demanding I do something more with my meager life then simply kill time while muscular dystrophy finished doing me in. It was during this time that, while making the seven-hour drive down to San Diego for the wedding of a friend, I decided to give NaNoWriMo a shot and cobbled together the plot for what would go on to become my first novel, “A Boot upon the Shale.” The novel, which followed a teenage loner forced to survive in the wilds of Pennsylvania after a plane crash, wasn’t particularly good, but it reignited a dormant love for writing in me.

After that, I continued writing prolifically, though without much of a plan, jumping from one false start to another. Eventually, I started work on a second novel, this one about a man with muscular dystrophy who breaks out of his institution only to find the earth under attack by aliens. After another year and 300,000 words written (which only constituted about three quarters of my plan for the massive tome), I hit a wall and decided to stick a pin in the novel and hone my craft by cranking out a few short stories. One of those first stories was “Fashion Emergency,” the first draft of which was finished in April, 2015.

To make a long story longer, I shot it off to my critique group, took their responses to heart, failed at expanding it into a novelette, and abandoned it. I went on to publish several short stories in the forthcoming year, then took another peek at it and decided that there might be something there. I gave it a quick polish and submitted it to a suitable market in late September 2016. Less than a month later, I was quite surprised to find a notice of acceptance in my inbox. Nineteen months later, after publishing a few more stories and really getting a handle on my craft, it was in print.

And that gets us to the point of this blog post. What do you do when a story you’ve outgrown enters the world? You’ve been paid for it. You owe it to the publisher to get out on the stump and share its existence far and wide. And yet… it’s no longer you. You’re not embarrassed about every aspect—there are some parts you downright love—but then there’s that one paragraph that absolutely kills you. And here is mine.

As climate controlled warmth enveloped her and she waited for her sight to return, Isobel pondered whether she had traveled back a bit too early. The butterscotch candy had made the earlier jump with her, ferried through time within the confines of her mouth; she wondered what would’ve happened had she traveled home mid-rape. The thought of that monster stumbling around the alley–penisless and nursing electrical burns over what remained of his body–would almost have made the violation worth it. At least until she really thought about it.

Those of you who know me probably know me as a feminist, and one who rides a fine line of misandry, hating men (myself included) for obvious reasons. And, when I wrote the above paragraph, I was probably in a misandry fugue, and certainly let my emotions utterly cloud my common sense. Rape isn’t a joke. Full stop. If it’s happened to you, then, by all means, joke about it or do whatever you want with it. You’ve earned that right. I, a man, and one who has never been sexually abused, have not earned that right. But there it is, sitting on Amazon, shaming me.

I thought about simply sweeping its existence under the rug—not adding it to the website, not sharing it on social media, etc. But that’s not me. I’m transparent. I stare hard truths and my own flaws right in the face. If this one faulty paragraph is going to be out there in the world, then this note about it is going to be out there as well.