Caleb Pirtle is upfront about his profession. He is a thief. Worse, he visited Puerto Vallarta last week recruiting accomplices.
“I take people’s most valuable asset, their life, and then steal it,” the Texas author of 59 books and three screenplays told the 9th Puerto Vallarta International Writers’ Conference at Biblioteca Los Mangos.
He was talking about story-telling and the importance of getting out in the world to meet people, listen to their experiences, learn about their lives and then write about them.
“You never know what you are going to find out when you take the time to talk to people,” he said.
Chance meetings and chance conversations are the fodder of story-telling, he told about 40 aspiring writers attending the three-day event sponsored jointly by Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Group and the library. Peoples’ lives should be remembered, he said, and it the job of writers to preserve their stories.
“When you talk to people you never know what you’re going to find out that you can use later.”
He should know. In a career spanning newspaper work, travel magazine writing and fiction he has interviewed old men on porches, country singers in Nashville, cafe waitresses, cowboys, sheriffs and characters in beer joints and honky-tonks. All have unique and powerful stories worth recounting.
For this self-described “used-word salesman,” no matter what you are writing “you are telling a s story.” The importance of those stories, he emphasized, is not to write about things but to write about people.
The Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Group meets every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Red Room of the Act II Stages theatre at the corner of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes. Anyone interested in writing is welcome.