“WRITER” IS NOT AN EASY TITLE
Steve Mitchell has taken on many titles: a cowboy, a construction worker, a substitute teacher, a chef and a manager for a mental health program. His reputation as a writer came with a decision to illustrate the images of his brain.
Mitchell is one of three owners of Scuppernong Bookstore in Greensboro. He is a writer of Fiction and has been published by an array of publishing companies ranging from The Southeast Review to Flash Magazine. He is a winner of the Lorain Hemingway International Short Story Prize and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. I read what he called his “publishing bio” prior to interviewing him at Scuppernong. I was taken aback by his story and was eager to hear about his unique journey. It was nothing like those of mainstream authors.
Steve Mitchell is not a typical writer. He does not write about political issues. He doesn’t qualify for the “Nicholas Sparks” genre. His writing stems from the world and not just the world as we know it. Mitchell has a capability to capture a world unknown to readers “¦ until they read his works.
While he is now a respected and prestigious author and business owner, Mitchell came to a point in his life where his writing came to a halt. “I did not miss writing over that period of time,” he said. “I began writing again because the time was right.”
When he resumed his writing he found that his perceptions were the driving force for his stories. Mitchell writes in first person. Instead of writing the way he sees it, he puts himself in a completely different mindset. Throughout his stories he has taken on roles as a woman, an individual younger than his age and older than his age. “It starts with a question and an observation and I ask myself what it would be like to be this person.”
Mitchell is very much in tune with the persona of the characters in his stories. That does not mean he is much of a psychologist. “I don’t get into the psychological ideas. I don’t think humans always fit in a box. There are parts of us that make up who we are and we are unaware of most of them.”
Inspiration to develop the characters in his stories stems back to his passion for reading. Mitchell found bookstores essential when he was younger. A place where one could come in contact with people and share ideas. Mitchell, as well his co-owners, have made certain that Scuppernong Books is staffed with book-lovers not just book re tailers.
The staff is very versatile. They make coffee, they shelf books, and they have a knowledgeable and personal opinion of all the books Scuppernong carries.
Scuppernong carries works from local authors. While he manages the bookstore, Mitchell still keeps writing. He doesn’t find it therapeutic. “It is not easy and it requires much time and effort. If I am going to write, I am not going to do it half-assed.” Currently, Mitchell has finished a new story and is looking to have it published. He is also almost finished with another story as well.
While I was talking to Mitchell it seemed as if he had difficulty answering the question: Why do you write? He explained that he doesn’t think too much about why. “You can’t ask a person why he plays football. People do it because they need to.”
Mitchell’s perception of the world allows him to pause from his mental activity and dwell in that of a character inside his own universe. His stories are written due to an unexplainable urge of which no one might ever know. Mitchell has taken many titles in his life. The title writer “¦ well, it is one of the more mysterious ones. !
Scuppernong Bookstore is located at 304 S Elm St, Greensboro, NC 27401. You can reach them at (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.