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Writing is in English instructor's bones

Capt. Jesse Goolsby poses for a photo with his two daughters in this photo taken in the Goolsbys' home. The captain's most recent work, a short story called "Thirteen Steps," is scheduled to be published in Storyglossia magazine in February. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Jesse Goolsby poses for a photo with his two daughters in this photo taken in the Goolsbys' home. The captain's most recent work, a short story called "Thirteen Steps," is scheduled to be published in Storyglossia magazine in February. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An instructor with the Air Force Academy's English and Fine Arts Department just can't get enough of his job.

Capt. Jesse Goolsby has written several poems and short stories and has been published and recognized through such awards as the 2009 John Gardner Memorial Award in Fiction. His newest work, "Thirteen Steps," is scheduled to be published early next year in Storyglossia magazine.

"The piece took me about two and a half months to write," he said. "The drafting process for fiction can be extensive, and this piece was no different. I rely on many of my amazing Academy colleagues to proof the work and provide suggestions. For 'Thirteen Steps,' I reedited the piece some 30 times before I felt comfortable sending it out to prospective journals."

"Thirteen Steps" is about a 13-year-old boy who spends a summer afternoon at the community pool with his diabetic mother. He contemplates his changing body, romantic desire, and mortality in a quick succession when he witnesses the tragic aftermath of a man diving in water too shallow to contain his head-first fall. The story follows the boy and his mother throughout the afternoon, including the difficult walk home, when they are greeted at the door by the boy's father who has just received fantastic monetary news.

"I wanted to write a story that not only explores the compelling time in all of our lives when our bodies and desires change, but also the hauntingly beautiful knowledge that we will not live forever" Captain Goolsby said. "The boy in the story has to sift through these amazingly complicated issues in just an afternoon, and I was curious to see how he'd react, and what he'd remember."

Heavy stuff to conceive, well beyond grammar, spelling, word choices and sentence structure.

"Especially interesting was composing the end, when the father and son take a late night drive under the city lights," said the Academy Class of 2001 graduate and native of Chester, Calif. "The day has been too much for the mother, so it's just the father and son, driving with the windows down, the father rambling about hope and possibility, the son, waiting his turn to ask the question he's always wanted to ask."

Storyglossia will publish the work in February. The journal has earned the Million Writers Award for best online publication, and many of their stories have been chosen for Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prizes, O' Henry Awards, and the Best of the Web series. Thirteen Steps will come out in February. People will be able to view the work at http://www.storyglossia.com.

Captain Goolsby been published in Harpur Palate, Storyglossia, Vestal Review, War, Literature and the Arts and various poetry anthologies. His story "Derrin of the North" won the 2009 John Gardner Memorial Award in Fiction and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and entry into the 2010 Best American Short Stories contest.

"Thirteen Steps" is included in a collection of short stories that he is currently shopping to publishers. He will also present the piece at the Southern California Writers Conference, which he will attend in February.

The prolific captain currently has some 20 pieces under consideration at various journals across the world. He's also nearing the completion of his first novel and hopes to conduct research next summer under a Dean of Faculty grant to write creative non-fiction and anthropological journalism pieces on the Maidu tribe of Northern California.

"I'm always writing," the author and instructor said. He credited Lt. Col. Thomas McGuire, the department head, and Prof. Donald Anderson, the Academy's head creative writer, for helping foster a creative environment within the English and Fine Arts Department.

"Colonel McGuire ... understands the massive craft and effort required of creative writers as well as critically focused scholars," Captain Goolsby said. "(Professor Anderson) has supported me, as well as many others, from the cadet days and has mentored and guided our writing efforts so they reach their maximum potential."