I am pleased to be able to bring to you today, THE Sevastian Winters. The author of the Very Popular, How I Are Becomed A Very Much Gooder Author, a book which imparts valuable wisdom on the business end of writing, editing, publishing and promoting. This is the guy that put the “ing” in Branding. You want to succeed, this book gives you a huge lead to doing just that.
That’s not all he does, though. He’s written other books, both fiction and non-fiction; manages two blogs; has a WIP on not one but several other books; and, is in the process of putting together instructional webinars and seminars on writing. If that isn’t enough, Sevastian Winters makes himself accessible. You read his book(s), have a question, he’ll have an answer. You may not like the answer you get, but that’s Sevastian. He’s not going to give you an answer to make a friend, though it’s hard not to become one once you know him. He’ll give you a straight up, honest answer. The one you need to hear, as you’ll soon see. So, here you go. Lean back, put your trays in the down position – you’re going to want to take notes.
LEARN YOUR CRAFT. IT’S A MATTER OF RESPECT
Not long ago, a local friend of mine, gave me a copy of his paperback to read and told me that the story “really gets started in chapter seven.” I am a bit of a pompous jerk about writing, so I opened up to chapter 7, ripped out the first 6 chapters and handed them back to him. “Don’t waste my F***ing time.” I meant it. I probably could have handled it more diplomatically, but I’m always as much on the hunt for a good story in real life as in fiction, and I knew that the guy could handle it, and that it was likely the only way the guy would get the message. He got it…and surprisingly, we’re still friends.
As a fellow pompous writer (and let’s face it, most of us who are any good at all but not so good that we’re banking the big bucks, struggle with the fact that we are also a bit snotty about it) one of the things that bugs me most in both my writing and the writing of others is the purity of story that gets lost in the pomposity of ego (for example that last sentence. Who do I think I am? Capote?)
Michelangelo is credited with saying “Sculpting is easy. All you have to do is cut from the stone everything that’s not the sculpture.” I think if he said anything like that, he probably said, “Scolpire è facile. Tutto quello che dovete fare è tagliare dalla pietra che tutto ciò non è la scultura” but I’m just being a smart alec in deference to the sorts of people who think things like that the Bible was written specifically to them in English, or that the U.S. Constitution was hand-written by God with the blood of fallen saints. I digress. But the purpose will soon be made evident. Stay with me.
Michelangelo’s phrase is how I feel when it comes to story telling. I recently wrote a post on my homepage (different than my homeless gazillionaire page) called “I hate words.” In it, I referenced the “squirrel” in “Ice Age” and how his story unfolds so purely without words. It’s really pretty (expletive deleted) cool.
That’s sort of the point, in story telling… to make the words disappear. What makes Michelangelo’s David, so amazing is that you can spend years looking for chisel marks and you’ll never ever find one. His craft was so pure that the only evidence of craft is the art that’s left behind. Amazing!
Storytellers who convey their art with word words are responsible to learn their craft so well, that all evidence of craft disappears. There are many ways to convey stories. Words are the most challenging. It’s not something someone just does. Precious little irritates me more than a person who says “I want to read your book, ‘How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author,’ but I can’t afford the $5.00 right now, so I’ll just keep writing and hopefully, once I sell some books I can read yours.” Really? Why don’t you just build your house with a stick of gum instead of a hammer? Or maybe you’re using a rock to plumb the place. I’m not kidding. This is a serious business for serious people. If you’re not going to take it seriously, find some other hobby and stop muddying the market with crap that makes it difficult for serious writers to sell books. (I told you, I’m a pompous jerk)
Just as a sculptor needs to learn the various tools available for his craft, and how to properly use them, so too must the writer take seriously the process of learning and applying craft. Despite what neophytes may tell you, there really are rules, to writing great fiction and if you want to break them, you’d better at least understand that you have, and they’d better be a conscious choice made to further the application of your art (such as I’ve done in this article with a plethora of parentheticals and tangents (they may be funny, and/or poignant, but they also interrupt flow.) Words should never call attention to themselves in storytelling.
Example: Once upon a time, in the midst of telling a story, I attempted to paint a picture with words and I wrote “The moonlight shone across the water like a million diamonds looking for a bride.” Fun image, but when my editor sent back a note that said “oooooh I like that,” I knew I had to change it. Why? Simple, the words called attention to themselves instead of simply telling story. They were pretentious and in the moment, no matter how nice the imagery, they took the reader out of story and made them pay homage to the writer. The time for paying homage to the writer is at the end, when the story is all finished… not in the middle. A well told story leaves no evidence behind that a writer ever applied his/her craft, other than the purity of story.
I’ve been doing this seven years, and the only reason I still do it… the reason that I still read crafting books every day… the reason I still revise and rewrite… the reason I have sacrificed literally everything in the pursuit of telling stories, is that storytelling is the only thing I’ve ever truly sucked at (other than diplomacy) Crafting is the lifeblood of story telling. The goal is pure story. Learn to craft. Learn to craft. Learn to craft. The lessons never end. Thanks for reading.
Thank you, Sev! And, there you have it. You want more, you need more? Get the book, folks. I did. You won’t be sorry.
Now, on to an even more serious note – and one Sev, himself, didn’t want to mention. If you clicked on the last link above, you will have read how Sevastian Winters has truly taken the road travelled by only a few. To be a full-time author.
When he began the quest, he thought he knew what he was getting into, but the travelling home he has been living out of decided to take it up a notch. Unexpected repairs. We’ve all been there with our vehicles, had a tire blow, the battery cough, sputter and die before it’s time. And, as most vehicle repair jobs go, the costs far outweigh what we have in the bank. But, the difference is, the vehicle we drive is used as a tool to get from Point “A” to Point “B”. It’s not used to eat, sleep and work in.
I guess if there is some sort of silver lining in this dark cloud that’s rented space over his head, it’s that this obstacle has hit at the time of year where we all (or most of us anyway) stop, breathe, and give thanks for what we have; for friends and family near and dear, and, for those far away but close in our hearts. We see the bell ringers, the boxes at the store for toys, or food and we become generous in a joyful kind of way.
Below is a link to Sevastian Winters’ blog, The Homeless Gazillionaire. He has a “Chip In” widget that will take you directly to PayPal, where with one click, you can make a difference to bring some relief to Sevastian and help him get back to where he can focus on his career. This money does not go through me but gives it directly where it’s needed, to Sevastian and his home on wheels which, by the way, he has named “Beauty.” I don’t know about you but I’m all for learning all I can about writing and I’ll be one of the first ones signed up to his webinar. He’s ready to give back but until he can get some stability with his living situation, it’s an uphill battle to get to that point.
How many of us would be ever so grateful should we be placed in another’s shoes, to have someone – a stranger, an acquaintance, or a colleague step up and out of the crowd to say I care. All I’m asking is you give a dollar. One Dollar! If you have it in your heart to do more, that would be wonderful. But, think about it, are you going to miss one dollar? Some people will read this and think, oh, I’ll let the other guy do it. BE that other guy, won’t you? If you want to give $5.00 – hey, buy his book. He’s got it on sale right now. Now – that’s a win/win.
I believe in writers. We have an amazing way to envision and imagine – placing ourselves in another kind of life. I believe in strength and compassion. More importantly, I believe. It is, after all, the season.