Why write stories? At SoCreate, we’ve posed the question to most writers we meet, from novelists to screenwriters, because their answers are always inspiring. Our interview with Emmy Winner Peter Dunne and New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Stackpole was no different. I hope their responses inspire you if you need it today.
We first met Dunne and Stackpole at the Central Coast Writers Conference. What a treat to have talent of this caliber willing to share their writing wisdom with others!
Dunne is a writer and producer on hit TV shows including “JAG,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Melrose Place,” “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “Sybil,” for which he won a Primetime Emmy.
Stackpole is an award-winning novelist, editor, game designer, comics writer, podcaster and screenwriter, whose best-selling works include novels such as Star Wars universe books I, Jedi, and Roque Squadron.
Just listening to them makes me want to create, and I hope they’ll get you moving, too! Read the full transcript below.
Peter Dunne (PD): Why write stories? It’s a good question. We write stories because something compelled us to do it as artists. Whether it’s a screenplay or whether it’s a book, just like people paint, or sculpt, or compose music, it’s an essential thing to our being to express ourselves artistically. If that isn’t taken as important before you try to sell anything, then rethink things. The world is built around sales and marketing, but art is not. Art speaks for itself. It will gather an audience. I’ve found, in my experience, what we all have in common is what we’ve lost. We’ve all lost family, friends, homes, money, job opportunities. We’ve lost hope and faith; we’ve lost our way a lot of times. Underneath every story, no matter how specific our experiences have been, it’s always a story about loss and then regaining that, getting through it. That’s the only reason we should write is to illuminate the human experience. And that takes place anywhere. Everybody is always interested in that.
Michael Stackpole: Writing a story can be cathartic. It helps you deal with those emotions and put them into some sort of a context. Our experiences may be unique, but they have those common elements. Even if you don’t think you’re doing a very adequate job say, in writing about your grief over losing a loved one, these things will resonate with other people, and so it helps other people get past that. Most of the writers that I know, when they’re asked, ‘why do you write,’ it seems like the glib answer for us to say that the stories are inside of us and they just push to get out. Once you get comfortable writing, once you’ve developed some basic skills – and you only do that through practicing writing – then the stories do want to come out. The sheer joy of seeing what you create, and then if you’re lucky, seeing the joy on faces, really helps reinforce that you successfully communicated a life experience to someone else, and it is meaningful to them. That’s the reward.
PD: Yes, it’s very gratifying.
Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach