Steven G. Fullwood


Photo by Phil Esteem

Name, Gender, Birthplace:
My name is Steven G. Fullwood, born male and plan to stay that way. I was born January 15, 1966, in Toledo, Ohio.

Current or most recent project(s):
My most recent publication is FUNNY, a book of humorous essays. My motivation? FUNNY was my grand gesture in forcing dialogue with the wor(l)d in order to confront some raging bullshit deep inside of me that threatened my sanity. Shit that needed to be blown up big and large to heal a corroding self-esteem. Like homo life. Like racism. Like could I write…and I still don’t know. FUNNY is also a grand lesson in ego and self-congratulation, decked out in jazzy quirks and Hip-Hopped missteps. The plan initially was to write a memoir that would break ranks with other types of black LGBT/SGL writing in order to A) distinguish myself and B) get at some other way of looking at the same old shit—sex, homophobia, race, among other things. I captured a few of my musings about life, love and the pursuit of fresh poonnany, breathlessly capturing a few insights on the page. In some ways FUNNY was a major success; I wanted to go public with my privates, so to speak. The process took about two years from notes to the finished product. I worked hard and mostly alone, sharing chapters with a couple of friends. I was too scared to share my work and be told that I should write like this, or write about that, so FUNNY suffers from cabin fever in some ways, mostly as a victim of typos and a lazy imagination. Had I another swipe at it, I would have added/subtracted a few things, but all told I am satisfied that the book is what it is because, as I said earlier, I had to force a dialogue (and recognize) with the wor(l)d in order to confront the monsters under my bed and the ones sleeping next to me in it. I think I am better for the whole experience.

Earliest memory of being a writer and first publication experience:
Being told that I had talent for writing in high school. I didn’t consider becoming a writer until after high school because I wanted to be famous and the whole rock star thing wasn’t working out. Writing became a primary way for me to think about who and what I was and likely to become.

I vaguely remember writing an article or two for my high school newspaper, but I only joined the newspaper staff to get out of class. I’d do anything to get out of class. While I was an undergraduate at the University of Toledo, I published an editorial, “What Black History Means to Me.” I remember feeling very full of myself, but it was junk. One of my comp teachers thought it was good, but I know now that she was being nice to the little light-skinned black boy with the big afro.

How do you identify and nurture ideas for new projects?
Usually I get an idea for a story, maybe an essay or an article, which may have to chase me for a minute before I actually stop, consider it and then take a minute to write the idea or ideas down. I have too many ideas, really. Only recently did I come to understand that certain ideas will be just that ideas, and will probably die shortly after they formed in my head. Thousands of titles and half finished poems, essays, short stories and novellas later, I finally forgave myself and stop feeling like a big old loser who couldn’t finish what he started.

Authors/writers/performers or others that have influenced your artistic style:
James Baldwin was probably my first teacher. His essays are superb, full of clarity and insights. Toni Morrison captures language beautifully and has a great sense of humor. Cynthia Heimel is a humorist whose style is warm, personal and infectious. All three writers challenge me in different ways. Baldwin’s essays are amazingly clean and precise, and it is that preciseness that drives me to find the right word. Morrison milks poetry when describing the most harrowing experiences, and Heimel, although a humorist, is dead serious about whatever she’s talking about. Both writers want me to make the language work and worth the reader’s effort. They also inspire me to find humor in dank places and to lift what I think may be pain and suffering up to the light and not to leave anything out. That doesn’t mean describe everything; often the opposite. My job is to help the reader get closer to the experience, so close they know it as their own.

2-3 books or CDs that everyone should own:
Books: The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin. The best book of essays, period.

My thoughts on LGBGT authors’ obligation to the LGBT community:
I actually think that artists, no matter what community they belong to, have an obligation to tell their truths—everything else is secondary, or irrelevant. I think if one decides to write about the LGBT community, then yes, the obligation, well, responsibility, is to get it right, which may mean looking up everyone’s orifices and revealing the not-so pretty innards that we all wanna keep secret.

Biggest misconception about me and/or my work?
I don’t think there are any misconceptions, really. At least not any that I know about. All of the reviews of my work seem to get what I am trying to do which is tell stories with the tools I have—two hands and my imagination. Maybe after this interview someone will toss me a misconception or two, if I’m lucky.

Advice for aspiring writers?
Publish a book full of typos and then kill yourself. Just kidding. No, really.

Preview of my upcoming project(s):
I have such a big-ass mouth that I am surprised that you do not already know. Currently I am working on several manuscripts: a book of poems, a memoir about my mom, and a book of essays. I also review books occasionally for Black Issues Book Review and Library Journal. Poetry is difficult for me to write mainly because I am not dedicated to the form just yet. And it doesn’t help that I am surrounded by the best poets: Marvin K. White, Samiya Bashir and my beloved Larry D. Lyons, so that’s challenging.