The Writing G-Spot: Interview with Stan Stone
Happy Pride! I’m publishing June’s interview early so you can warm up for the season by meeting a fabulous queer writer, Stan Stone, and snagging tickets to his show. Pride is so much more than a parade. Join me in celebrating queer community by coming out for queer art and culture in June.
Stan has lived in San Francisco for thirty-five years and writes for stage and screen. His play, “Work In Progress” opens this Friday, May 31st, and runs until Saturday, June 8th as part of the Queer as Fuck show at Bindelstiff Studio on 6th Street in San Francisco. Queer as Fuck calls upon the transformative power of black box theater to share stories of love, sex, and the politics of living life as queer. The comedy showcase features four short plays on the theme of queer dating, including Stan’s play, which he wrote and directed. Stan also writes, directs, and performs with Barewitness, an award winning improv-based filmmaking collective.
What is “Work In Progress” about?
My play asks the burning question, is there a difference in how young Queer men and older Queer men experience love and romance? I wanted to explore how we’ve gone from finding a date in a bar to finding a hookup online. The advent of technology and apps such as Grindr have changed how we connect with people. Now the next big thing, pardon the pun, is just a click and a swipe away.
Who is your writing hero?
One of the things that moves me every time I read it or hear it read by the author is, “We wear the mask,” by Maya Angelou. She writes with honest and sometimes heartbreaking emotion. Her words seep deep into my gut and seem to settle there for days. I always feel that her writing comes from some bottomless emotional well that she taps into and pours onto pages for the world to see and feel. She inspires me to be a better writer. She compels me to be a better person by bearing witness to how she lived her life. She charges me as a writer to elicit an emotional response from the reader. Maya is quoted as saying, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
What is your writing process like?
I don’t have a set time to write. It’s more sporadic and seems to come out in bursts. Inspiration for what to write often comes first thing in the morning as I’m just waking up next to my husband. Various thoughts will haunt me and ricochet in my semi-conscious mind. A freshly remembered dream. A song playing on repeat. An overheard conversation or a once-distant memory. I like to call them friendly demons. The only way to exorcise them is to write.
I begin by creating a list of words or phrases I may want to include in the writing. After the list feels complete, I read it over and expand on the words or phrases that leap off the page and demand my attention. I write and rewrite until the piece tells me it is complete. Then I put it away for a few days and look at it again later with fresh and more critical eyes. At that point, I usually rewrite and edit some more. I like using a pen and paper and then shift to the computer when it comes time to edit. It can be a long process. There are a few occasions when the muse is firmly seated on my shoulder and the writing just pours out of me from its free flowing beginning to its orgasmic end, leaving me happily spent and satisfied.
What do writing and sex have in common?
Both can feel like you’re working too hard. If you’re lucky you can find the writing G-spot, where you and the words are completely connected and in rhythm. You and the pen and the paper are a thruple, writing as one. And when the piece has reached its climax, the only thing left to do is light up a cigarette and exhale.
What do you love about writing?
There is a peacefulness to writing. Sitting quietly in solitude with pen in hand, staring at a stark, white, empty page and continuously shifting back and forth from a wandering mind to intense focus. It can have the feel of meditation.
I also love the surprises. Characters will often surprise me by saying something I wouldn’t expect them to say or doing something unexpected that moves me to laughter or tears. It’s always fun when that happens.
I consider writing to be one of my children. The other kids are acting, directing, art, and photography. I know you are not supposed to have a favorite child, but writing gets a little extra love. If you tell the others, I will firmly deny it.
Tell us a story.
I was a skinny, pre-teen black boy in West Philly who was just starting to deal with feeling different from other boys. My father would publicly ridicule me and accuse me of crying at the drop of a hat. “Men don’t cry,” he said. His words were like stinging nettles piercing my already fragile self-image. It meant I was weak. I was less than. So I stuffed my feelings and stifled my emotions. It took many years of forgiveness to get over it. Forgiving him. Forgiving myself. Now I cry with abandon. No shame. No guilt. I realized that crying, like joy, or anger, or sadness, means that I am alive. By feeling my feelings, I can fully embrace those emotions and then set them free to roam around in my writings.
Recently I performed a piece I wrote about how my parents met and fell in love, eponymously titled “Johnny and Scrap.” I play both my mom and dad. The end of the piece has my father professing his love to her as he sits on the edge of her death bed. I cry real tears every time. I showed the video of this performance to my 92-year-old dad. We cried together.
I coax sexy writers like Stan Stone to reveal their creative secrets and processes in writer interviews to inspire you:
Get tickets for Queer as Fuck, Friday, May 31st, to Saturday, June 8th at Bindlestiff, 185 6th Street, San Francisco
Watch Stan’s film work on the Barewitness website.
Read and listen to Maya Angelou’s, “The mask we wear”
Worth repeating! I’ll be there! Get tickets for Queer as Fuck, Friday, May 31st, to Saturday, June 8th at Bindlestiff, 185 6th Street, San Francisco