Sports Illustrated is justifiably proud of its many fine writers—including those who don't actually write for SI. When they aren't combing our stories for flaws in logic, syntax and punctuation, copy editors Robert Dunn and Celestine Ware write award-winning fiction.
Ware began creating tales as a child growing up in Cleveland. "I told stories," she says, "and people listened to them. Some stories were two and three hours long. They would start one place and end somewhere else." When she graduated from Harvard with a degree in American studies, Ware moved to New York to work first as a news correspondent for National Public Radio, then as a network TV documentary producer. She eventually moved on to the Children's Television Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street, as a story consultant, but, she says, "working 60 hours a week, I didn't have any time to write."
So, looking for a more flexible schedule, she came to SI in 1981 as a proofreader and became a copy editor in 1985. Ware now has time to write music and book reviews for such magazines as 7 Days and Saturday Review. She is also working on two novels, one about swing era musicians, the other a contemporary work about a mother and daughter. In 1985 her short story Stargazer won a prize in a Chicago Magazine fiction competition.
Dunn's writing developed from his love of music. "I started writing songs in the Bob Dylan mode at 13," he says. "I found that while I didn't always hit the notes, I did seem to have a facility with lyrics. When I began to write short stories I didn't forget my songs. I'd like to think that in the best of the work I do, there is a musical quality; the rhythm and tone help the sense."
Dunn grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Cal with a degree in English literature. He worked as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, which published one of his early poems, titled Memory, and in 1980 won an O. Henry Award—presented annually to the 20 best published short stories—for his story Hopeless Acts Performed Properly, with Grace. Since then, Dunn has been published in The Atlantic, Sewanee Review and Omni. Recently, he finished a novel. When Gravity Fails, and a short story called The River Song will be read on National Public Radio.
Dunn feels that his work benefits from the attention he devotes to SI stories. "Good writing," he says, "is on the one hand a beautiful, lyrical sweep; on the other it is the nuts and bolts of punctuation and syntax. It's crucial to make writing correct, so that there is no distraction from the story. I find it helpful to have to think about the nuts and bolts."