The Single Greatest Strength Of Any Writer

The Single Greatest Strength Of Any Writer

There are so, so many different faculties that are necessary for writing.

Creativity and world building, being an observer of the world around you, having patience, free expression without self-doubt. . . Then there’s the more pragmatic side, writing good sentences, building scene and sequel, character development, plot arc, creating dialogue, balancing the rhythm of your work. I could go on.

All of these things are crazily important. Every writer is different, in that some of these skills come easier or more naturally, and others take time to develop. Sometimes we must adjust our very perspective to be better writers.

But one faculty rules them all, like Sauron and the one ring.

A willingness to be wrong. And with that, the thirst for growth.


There is nothing more definitive on whether a writer will be successful than this. If you write a story, are so confident in it, flat out refusing to believe it could need moderate to serious rewriting, you just have no hope. None. Even great authors have to hack apart their work, get their hands bloody.

All the cliches about first drafts being shit aren’t just lip service. You need to write. And rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. And edit. And edit. And edit.

If you can’t enjoy that, if you can’t get excited about that process of improving your writing and your writing skills, than the process of creating a good to great story is going to be exhausting, emotionally paralyzing.

I’d like to think I’m a decent writer naturally. What I know I am exceptional at, is learning. I get so excited I can barely contain myself when my editor comes back at me with my work with a boatload of changes, with new ideas and ways to adapt the work. When I originally wrote HOOD, Book One of the American Rebirth Series, I sent it to my wonderful, brilliant editor, who very nicely helped me realize there were a some strengths to the book, but huge, huge weaknesses. Ones that would take massive rewriting. With a deft touch, she helped me realize the book simply wasn’t good enough as is.

Hood Cover 7

My book was 280ish pages to start. I cut 180 after I took a day of self-loathing to truly digest what my editor told me, and rewrote the story. It finished with around 240.

Once that I realized I’d taken two years to write a book and needed to butcher block 2/3s of it, I wanted to die. But once I realized the potential of my story, how much better it could be, I couldn’t contain myself. It only took me around 2-3 months to rewrite the whole thing, after it had taken me 2 years to write it in the first place. And I could see how much better it was.

Now, I’m waiting on my editor’s feedback for a final round of editing. I’m so excited to see what she has to say I am literally counting the days. And I’m so, so glad I feel that way. Because it would suck if I hated this process, knowing how important it is.

The beauty of it is, the next book I write, it will be easier and require less re-work because I’ve learned what not to do, I’ve learned what my weaknesses are when I write, and now I understand what it takes to overcome them.

If you talk to any established author, they’ll tell you this: a microscopic few writers just write brilliantly, naturally.

The vast majority of great authors started off writing sucky, flawed writing, but loved doing it. And they learned (even if they didn’t love it) how to improve their writing, put their ego aside and really soak in what they could learn from editors and other writers. That’s how most of them become great. Experience and willingness to be wrong, and learn.


I’m so, so SO glad that willingness to be wrong and learn from it came easy to me. That it was something I liked. Because it is everything in the world of writing. I won’t sit here and claim my story is great. That is for the readers to decide. I’m just glad that if it doesn’t live up to what I think it could be, I have the right approach. Break it down. Learn from it. Come back stronger the next time.

-Evan Pickering

Book Cover Art: Don’t Get Too Excited Now

Book Cover Art: Don’t Get Too Excited Now

While I’ve been waiting for my editor to get back with my latest draft, I’ve been slaying myself over cover art.

Trying (unsuccessfully) to get an illustrator, looking for digital professionals, digging around any and all online resources on the matter. . .

It was driving me god damned crazy.

Some artist charge insane amounts for cover illustration. Other cover art deals want to hook you on marketing deals with the cover art. And all the while you just hope you can get a cover that really feels like it speaks to your story.

Not easy to do. Of all the things I went though, of all the research I did, this was the best advice I found.

I had found some art online I thought was perfect. Specifically, this:

6578632965eec6a4cfb9cf0a80dfc40cArtwork: Darek Zabrocki

But I couldn’t get in contact with the artist, and assuredly even if I did the price of cover illustration would probably be steep.

I couldn’t get anything similar that encapsulated my story more. . . Rough survival in the wooded countryside of post-apocalyptic eastern seaboard, USA. Emblemized by a Hooded man, rifle in hands, waiting to fire.

Really, this image is perfect for my story. But alas, there was little I could do. Trying to replicate something similar was not working.

I wanted to puke trying to get this done. Finally, in my frustration I just decided to jump on some free online cover editing software, namely Canva. After a few hours of tinkering around with photos, I started to realize I could really create a cover I could be proud of for my book. All on my own. I won’t bore you with the grind of trying to key in on toning and positioning, font type and coloration. But this is what I came up with. And considering I’ve never done this before, I’m pretty happy with it:

Hood Cover 7Ta-daa.

All things considered, I think it looks pretty dang good. What say you, unwashed masses and followers alike?

Really, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear it. After all, as of now this is going to be the face of my book when I publish it in about a month (god willing)

-Evan Pickering

The Single Most Important Thing For Publishing Your Own Book

The Single Most Important Thing For Publishing Your Own Book

We all know that a lot goes into writing your own book. For those who want and choose to do such a thing, it feels about as strenuous and painstaking as childbirth (oh god please don’t hit me ladies).

I say to anyone who I talk to about this, write a book you’ll love, and write it so you’ll love it even if no one else ever reads it. At the end of the day, that’s what will give you satisfaction. But reality is, we want people to read it. We don’t live in the world alone, and we want to share our creation with others.

So then, we want to undergo the journey of [self] publishing.

For any new author (and lets face it, even an established author) who wants to publish and have success doing it, you need one thing:

A GOOD PROFESSIONAL EDITOR.

There you have it, folks. Believe me, you have no idea what you’re doing wrong until you have someone help you. We all think we’re better writers than we actually are. We think (at first) people will love our stories as much as we do. Reality is, you have accept and learn from every single mistake and hiccup you make to become a better writer, and you have to hook, lure, entrap every reader with your words, your story, your characters (for fiction writers, anyway).

It is really, really, really hard to do all that on your own. If you can’t afford a professional editor, then at the very least, find a trusted person to honestly read and review your book to you who won’t pull any punches. But fair warning, they can never help you learn like a good professional editor can.

Trick is, finding a great professional editor. I was lucky enough to get one through my mother, who is a published author.

Thank god for her.

That is all,

Evan Pickering

Excerpt from my new book: Hood

After two years worth of writing, Months worth of editing and hack-sawing more than half of the book and then rewriting the whole dang thing again, I’m happy to present a snippit from my new book: Hood, Book One of the American Rebirth Series.
As any writer will tell you, even a finished book still feels like it needs editing. So I’m going to forego my endless need to tweak and just toss it up. Here goes:

With a click light filled the room, so bright Hood had to turn his face and jam his eyes shut.
“You’re getting full of yourself,” came the hoarse voice of the old sheriff.
The idea that the sheriff had Hood’s life in his hands was a dark seed in his mind. He needed to buy some time, find out why he was here, why he was still alive.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Hood answered at length. The yellow floodlight nailed to the wall still shined in his eyes, but he adjusted enough to be able to see that they were in an portable arch-shaped metal warehouse.
“Of course I’m right.” the old man said, pacing in front of him. “Sneaking through my land, stealing from me and thinking you’d just run back home unmolested. You and your self-righteousness. I swear, I can smell your naiveté on the wind.”
Hood licked his lips and kept silent. The old man leaned in close to Hood. His breath smelled like old cigarettes. His bald, middle aged face was worn and weary around blue eyes. It was a look of disappointment, the look of a vulture flying over picked bones. His search was over.
“You know what it is that did you in,” the sheriff said with a smile and focused eyes. “It’s pride. The same pride that god saw in us when he smote us down.”
Hood smirked, his head leaned forward with his brow keeping the light out of his eyes.
“Granted, I’ve never read the good book cover to cover, but I’m pretty sure you don’t qualify as the godly type.”

The sheriff swung his pistol at Hood’s face. The handle connected with his eyebrow, his head snapping back from the blow. The pain seared, his head feeling numb. The worn barrel of the sheriff’s pistol hovered in front of Hood’s right eye. Inside the barrel was darkness.

A tight frown quivered on The sheriff’s face. “You don’t talk to me about godliness. You’re just a mongrel slinking around this hell on earth.”
Hood breathed in slowly, closing his eyes. Despite being provoked the Sheriff still hadn’t shot him. Gotta keep him talking.

To Rebuild, First We Must Tear It All Down.

ErnestHemingway

 

The first draft of anything is shit.

-Ernest Hemingway

There’s a word that seems to conjure up an image of a lone wanderer, aimlessly trudging through the dusty plains, constantly changing directions under a bleary sun and yet still not seeming to get anywhere.

That word: Editing.

After each subsequent edit, I think: “yeah, alright. I think it’s where it needs to be. This is good!” After some feedback, then it becomes painfully clear: WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!

That’s okay. I have one thing to say to myself, and all other writers going through the grueling process of editing:

Don’t be so goddamn hard on yourself.

Seriously, this is the nature of writing. Hemingway said it best (read above.) It’s okay to write something that isn’t good, or needs fixing. Just learn from it, change it, make it better. The beauty of writing is you can edit and change the content as much as you need. You can cut and hone it from being a car leaf spring into a sharpened survival knife.

Truthfully, the ability to know where you can improve, and accept that you need to improve are some of the most important facets of success. Don’t let yourself down; don’t let your story down.

  • Get readers who will give you feedback. Honest, harsh feedback. You’ll need it.
  • Be willing to overhaul parts of your story if it’s clear it is needed. Don’t get married to your ‘plan.’
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Figure out what you need to change, and tackle one issue at a time.

Good luck, wasteland wanderers.