Author Page: Michael Pape
Includes all these stories:
- Pretty Much Just One Shade of Brown
- Get Acquainted with Mr. Grief (Pilot Episode)
- Love Can Be Scary
- Walter's Graduation
- Questions for a Culture that has Closed its Mind
- Helmets Do Not Expand with Heads
Michael Pape's Biography
Combative yet cuddly, the man known as Michael Pape lives in Ozaukee County, WI. He is male, 40ish, bald, introverted, sensitive, crazy, and a friend to all. He likes cheese, history, and connecting with other people the only way he knows how -- writing. He can usually be found fixing computers or researching the Anti-Wolf Equation.
Q1: Why do you write?
I write fiction because I have all these things I want to communicate with other people, and no feasible way to do it outside of stories. It’s my personality interacting with this crazy culture, and realizing speaking or writing plainly and openly about some things (like feelings, or God, or purpose, or consequences, or just about anything really) is asking to be dismissed without a fair hearing. Our culture is masterful at focusing on the unimportant and banal while avoiding anything interesting or cool or different. Fiction gets around that with ease. It’s almost magical.
But the real answer is, I write to create connections with other people’s minds. We are all trapped in these bodies and isolated from everyone’s thoughts except our own; we need those connections to stay alive. It’s one of the things we are here to do.
Q2: How would you describe your writing ‘method’?
It depends on the story. I was never really an outliner, but recently I’ve found value in setting the framework of a story and its characters before I write anything. I’m way too flakey to write a complicated story without it, so it has expanded my repertoire a bit. Writing stories, for me, is an obsessive, perfectionism-laden, and painful process. I really get lost in it, and my entire personality spirals inward until the story is done. I finish it, release it, re-read it, and then the disappointment starts as the perfectionism really kicks in.
The writing process itself is: write a first draft. Go through it a second time with an eye for massive revisions and rewrites, wondering what I was smoking when I wrote the first draft. Go through it a third time word by word, looking for nitpicky things like word choice and deadly typos. Go through it a fourth-tenth(?) time, second-guessing everything. When it’s ready, I’ll submit it for approval knowing I missed at least one glaring error that will drive me crazy for the rest of my life. It’s pretty great.
Q3: How would you respond to the classic question, “Is there Christian art, or artists who are Christians?”
It depends on who is doing the labeling. If someone is saying “This thing I just made is Christian,” then he/she is trying to set the ground rules for interacting with it, which of course is totally futile. If a set of Christians is saying, “We approve of this thing you made and think it lines up with Christian values,” then that can really hurt the connection the artist is trying to make with the audience (or help, if the artist is “preaching to the choir” as it were). If a segment of the culture at large is saying, “This thing you made is totally Christian, and we love/hate/dimiss it accordingly” then they are trying to set the ground rules for interacting with it, which is borderline offensive. We need to understand that people are trying to put things into convenient compartments (Christian! Atheist! Conservative! Liberal! Misogynist! Racist! Whiny! Politically Correct! Etc!) because life is complicated and messy and busy and stupid. Good art breaks through all that and says, “It doesn’t have to be that way. Here is a door leading to the way out. The air is nice out here.”
There are definitely artists who are Christians, though. (Depending on one’s definition of the label, of course.)
Q4: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Obviously, write a lot. Read even more. Pay attention to the words people use. Pay attention to the voice and style people use. Be happy. Find yourself. Find your voice. Take more naps.
Q5: Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?
There is an amazing joy anytime you transform a blank white page into a viable story. It’s just the most amazing thing. But to answer the actual question, it would probably be the first chapter of Pretty Much Just One Shade of Brown, my Fifty Shades of Gray parody. In it I rediscover my love of satire, pop cultural criticism, and mocking things. Whenever you come to love a part of yourself you previously ignored for a long time, it is a beautiful thing. And I legitimately love this story and where it comes from. It is me. To put that on the page = Joy.
Q6: Which has brought you the most heartache?
Oh, gosh. Zombies! I love that story, and everyone kinda was “meh” about it. I normally don’t get caught up in that sort of thing (knowing my sensibilities tend to be intentionally weird and “not for everyone”), but I think there’s so much cool stuff in there. I mean, one of the characters refers to Sarah Palin as a “moose-shooting harpy”!” I spent a lot of time on that story, and to have it crash and burn and just sit there staring at me, was tough. I understand why it happened (my aforementioned weird sensibilities, the appearance of too many multiple perspectives in one story, not enough of a main story to tie the sidebars together, not enough actual zombies, etc.) but death to you all anyway. J/k, I love you.
Q7: Is there anything you’d like to say?
You are loved. Really, you are. That is the beginning of understanding. The world appears as this unfathomably big and cold place, but in reality it is a giant hug. Hug back and win.