Success Story – Jonathan Curelop – Author Tanker 10

becoming a writer By Jonathan Curelop - Author of  "Tanker 10" Obsessed With Progress - Featured Guest!   The first draft of my recently published novel, TANKER 10, was completed in 1988, about 25 years ago. I was a year or so out of college and pursuing an acting career in Chicago. Except for one Creative Writing class, I’d never studied writing. A rejection letter from an agent was enough to convince me that the book was a 400 page hunk of junk so I tossed it in the filing cabinet and moved on.   Fast forward to 1995, after a couple of years of living in New York City, and my decision to study Creative Writing in graduate school. Fast forward another ten years to when I was itching for a new writing project. I’d written many short stories and a series of novellas, but now it was time for a bigger challenge. Of course, I remembered the dusty manuscript I had tucked away decades before, but every time I opened that filing cabinet and reached for the Speedy Printing box, the drawer closed. This wouldn’t be a casual project like it had been in my early twenties. This time it would be for real.   Why had it taken so long for me to start flipping through the tattered dot matrix paper? Life gets in the way, right? I had a full-time job and a marriage. Writing would have to take a back seat. Also, as I discovered when I finally took my first look, there would be a fair amount of research – research that I didn’t have the patience for when I wrote the first draft. There were medical angles that needed to be covered. I’d have to consult a urologist, an endocrinologist. And I’d have to find out about baseball…every level from Little League to college ball and semi-pro.   None of that really mattered. The truth was that I had to face the facts: this was my story. And if I wanted it to be good, I would need to cut through all the half-truths and coy dodges of the original draft. I would need to confront my past honestly.   Not that TANKER 10 is a memoir, it’s not. However, everything that occurs in the book is triggered from actual events in my childhood: being bullied by my older brother; being hospitalized for an injury in an area that is…shall we say…sensitive; the sudden death of a friend; being overweight; being petrified of girls. Did I really want to delve into that mess? Not just as a writer, but as a brother.   You see, most of the bullying I suffered as a kid came at the hands of my older brother. On my tenth birthday I received a tee shirt with the number 10 on it. One day I made the mistake of wearing it in front of my brother and…well…my nickname, Tanker 10, was born. And it’s not like my experience was easier because the abuse came from my brother. You hear people say things like, “Well, you overcame it, no biggie” or “Come on, it was just your brother.” But in many ways that made it worse. Remember, he was my older brother. He was supposed to protect me, not hurt me. Didn’t he know the meaning of the word brotherhood? Didn’t he understand that every insult was another betrayal?   Although Tanker 10 proved the most durable nickname (it lasted well beyond my tenth year), it wasn’t the only one. For instance, my name is Jonathan. The last syllable is than, but is sounds like thin. So instead of being called Jonathin, I was often called Jonafat. Also, my Hebrew name is Yonatan. The final syllable of Yonatan (tan) sounds like tun. Yonatun. So in Hebrew school (and outside of Hebrew school once it caught on), I was called Yonaweighsatun (Yona weighs a ton). My brother did not invent these names, but once they reached him he put them to good use.   When writing the story, I felt once again the anxiety I felt as a child. Afraid of being seen on the street – not only by my brother, but his friends, as well. Sometimes I got it from kids I didn’t even know.   My brother! What would his reaction to the novel be? Would he ever speak to me again? What would my mother say if the book ever came to light? Should I care?  And what about my other brother, who’s not even mentioned in the book? Will he feel left out?   And the more frank the book became – stripped of its superficial veneer, revealing scenes of sibling cruelty and candid, sometimes explicit, sexuality – the more my fingers trembled at this discovery . I was overcome with an urgent desire to tell my story in a way that others could relate to it. I would mine the truth of my childhood. Maybe not the exact truth or the historical truth, but the emotional truth – the truth of the story. A blend of both truth and fiction, of memory and make believe. Understanding what this meant, I felt myself becoming a writer, as opposed to someone who was just writing something.   -------------------------------------- About Jonathan Curelop Jonathan Curelop Jonathan Curelop is a graduate of the City College of New York’s Creative Writing Program. He has studied at Gotham Writer’s Workshop and the New York Writers Workshop. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications, including SolsticeAmarillo BayLiquid ImaginationUMass Amherst MagazineaptRaging FaceThe Melic ReviewThe American Book Review andAura. Originally from Massachusetts, where he graduated from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst’s Theater department, he now lives in New York City with his wife, Pamela, and works as an editor and as a compliance officer at an international investment bank.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *