Gary Tubbs is the author of Mindful Messages for Children (2016) and A Boy Like Me (2020). Taming the Dragon: My Memoir of Coming Out, Addiction, and Awakening is his first published work. A former Seattle school principal, Gary is blissfully retired and residing in Bali, Indonesia.
Where are you from?
I was born in conservative, rural eastern Washington State but lived in Seattle for 25 years as a school administrator before retiring and living as an expat in beautiful Bali, Indonesia
Why do you write?
I write to share my story as I believe it can benefit others. I want to contribute to the healing of those who struggle with relationships, identity, and self-acceptance.
What do you write about?
I write about my life and the lessons I have learned over seventy years or introspection and deep work. I write in a style that is authentic, raw, honest, and vulnerable.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Others tell me I am brutally honest in my writing; courageous in sharing my imperfections and mistakes as I invite others to join me along my path and my return to authenticity.
What are obstacles that come in the way of writing?
My greatest obstacle was a fear of not being good enough. I compared my writing to others. Once I shut down those negative voices, I relaxed into my own voice and found the confidence to persevere.
What’s the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work?
The following two reviews resonate deeply within me. Both are from people I don’t even know, making them even more poignant for some reason:
“Pages into this raw and honest book I wondered if I would be able to read it. And yet, little Gary already had me at the heart strings knowing all he wanted was his father’s love and approval. Turn after turn of page the honesty drew me further in. Before I knew it, I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next, all the while hoping for Gary to find the love he so desired. I followed Gary through the highs and the lows of his heterosexual marriage, his encounters with men as he explored who he was and who he felt he was supposed to be. My mind and heart battled as I felt myself question my own beliefs, Christian upbringing, and a desire for all to have the love they deserve. More importantly I wanted Gary to love himself. Grab a coffee, curl up with a blanket and read this book. I finished it in three days, it was that well written, honest, real and raw.”
“Regardless of what you struggle with in life, Tubbs has tapped into the common blindness we all face with our personal issues. Through his journey, we discover that we all have the ability to overcome ourselves and find peace. You may not identify with the circumstances of his life and identity, but you will relate to his struggle, which is universal. The book is a well-written catharsis that keeps the reader hooked and Tubbs is masterful at taking you by the hand to look back on ghosts of his past. Recommend!”
How long have you been writing?
I engaged in grant writing and other technical writing for many years as a school administrator. But narrative writing is new to me. In an attempt to build skill and confidence, I became part of The Narrative Project (thenarrativeproject.net) for a year. I then self-published a collection of short stories based on childhood memories: A Boy Like Me, 2020. Taming the Dragon, 2022 is my first book with a publisher.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
Three years ago, riding on the back of my husband’s motorbike, I had a delightfully jolting thought that resonated deeply: “Write stories based on childhood memories to give to Mom for her 94th birthday.” A year later, A Boy Like Me, was born with the very first copy placed in the hands of my beloved mother on her birthday. Mom died one year later.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me a good story moves along at a pace and keeps my attention. I want there to be depth, humor, and enough stimulation to keep me engaged so that I’m not only feeling entertained but also relating to the book in a personal way.
Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as a JOY and passion. I write when I’m compelled to write or when I feel a thought, an idea, or a story bubbling up inside me that needs to be written down and saved, perhaps shared—maybe with one person, maybe a group, or to a wider audience. Should that writing evolve into a book, great! But I do not feel I am a writer. I am a vessel, willing to let a thought, story, or book be written through me.
Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers?
Thank you for taking the journey with me from childhood to my golden years. May you be blessed with feeling all the feels this memoir might conjure up. May your heart swell with compassion for yourself and people you love, especially those suffering from identity issues, addiction, or a lack of acceptance from societal norms. Together we awaken!