Thank you for stopping by.
I’m writing this message in April 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband, our two wonderful dogs and I have been “sheltering in place” for about two weeks as the number of cases in our county continues, like many, many other locales, to spiral. The college where I am a psychology professor has moved all classes, regardless of their original format, online.
Admission: I miss the face-to-face contact with both students and colleagues.
Another admission: If I’m being honest, I will confess that working from home has also given me extra time to devote to my writing.
Writing and teaching (on both the high school and college levels) are life-defining professions. I have taught—or administered education programs—since I received my undergraduate degree in English back in 1976.
Yes, I am that old! Surprising, since in college, I made a pact with myself. If I was not making a living as a writer by the age of 40, I would commit suicide.
When I reached 40, I had a change of heart.
Honestly, I can’t remember not writing, except during elementary and middle school. But even then, I sure as hell liked to read.
Then, in high school, as a reporter for the school newspaper, the writing bug bit me.
In college, as a young man attempting to synchronize my sexual orientation with the rest of my identity, I was lucky enough to be encouraged by several English professors who thought they saw potential in my work. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t really be ME in the external world that the inner world of my consciousness welcomed me as a full-fledged citizen, respected, loved, celebrated.
It was a though the words flowing onto the paper in front of me were affirmations of who I was.
But writing was—and certainly still is—a struggle and a challenge. I sent article proposals to a wide variety of magazines. I also submitted short stories and poetry to various markets. (No one can EVER read my poetry! It’s that bad.) Finally, with the arrival of the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, where I lived until 2006, I landed a few assignments to cover various performances in publications like Dance Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, Blueboy, Hero and a couple of others.
Then, in 1999 and again in 2000, I hit paydirt!
Two of my nonfiction books were picked up, thanks to a wonderful, nurturing agent, by two “big” publishers, Kensington Publishing Corporation (Moving On) and Westminster John Knox Press (Witness). Moving On presented the advice of a number of gay men—including myself—on how to deal with the aftermath of a serious romance that has gone “belly-up.” And Witness, which the author Virginia Ramey Mollenkott noted was “written with the skill of a novelist,” presented the stories of nine gay and lesbian clergy attempting to balance, with varying degrees of success, a weaponized Bible with their experience in leadership and spiritual roles within their faith communities.
Certainly, both projects were therapeutic—and ironic. My own 15-year relationship with another man had ended badly, and I was a mess as a result. It took me about a year to recover. Fully? Does anyone who survives the dissolution of a long-term relationship ever fully recover?
When I entered Newberry College as a freshman, I aspired to become a Lutheran minister. That goal lasted until the end of my sophomore year, when I had to declare a major.
Fast-forward from 1976 to 1999, when I was busily applying the finishing touches to Witness. Something clicked as I interviewed ministers whose churches were located in all regions of the United States.
I found I no longer believed.
In God, I mean.
Whew! I said it!
A gay man whose thoughts were included in Moving On said that it was, for him, harder to come out as an atheist than it was to come out as gay.
He’s right. In fact, far more Americans would rather see a gay man or lesbian woman in the White House than an atheist.
I have endured the race from youth, to young adulthood, to middle-age, and now I’ve taken a tentative step into late adulthood. During that journey, I changed paths a bit. I earned a doctorate in psychology (though it took 10 years to do it!). Still, my first love is writing and reading. I’ve kept at it. I will keep at it, I suspect, until I take my last breath at the age of 120.
But I won’t deny it. I feel the press of time, appreciating that I have far more years behind me than I probably do in front of me. With that realization, I began to self-publish. I didn’t want to spend so much time shopping my stuff from one editor to the next. I felt an urgency to get my writing out there, but there was a price to pay. I didn’t do the marketing and the promotion that needed to be done. So, most of the offerings you see on this site are self-published works (except for Witness and Moving On). While I will continue to self-publish certain titles (but with more involvement in their promotion), I have also decided to pursue opportunities with “traditional” (whatever the hell that means) publishing companies.
Here’s where I am now. I’ve finished another novel, and I’m seeking a home for it. I want this one to be published by a “traditional” publishing company. As I’ve gotten—well—more seasoned as a writer and as a person, I am eager to work with an editor again. I want the challenge of people who don’t mince words about the good and not-so-good characteristics of my writing, of my story-telling. I think I have skin thick enough to take it. (Psychology also helped me with that.)
Getting published, having readers and colleagues whom you respect weigh in on the quality of your work, even when their critiques are not all positive, is a rush. Holding that freaking new book, your book, in your hands—all of it, a wonderful rush.
I’m ready to feel that rush again.
Peace and love. Dann
Dann Hazel is a fiction and nonfiction writer and author whose work is inclusive of LGBTQ themes.
PO Box 3
Babson Park, FL 33827
Site last updated on June 6, 2020