Home > Work-related, Writing and Poetry > Stephen Eliasson’s Interview, Part 2

Stephen Eliasson’s Interview, Part 2

Welcome back readers to the second part of my interview with Stephen Eliasson, multi-talented writer. We left off yesterday with Stephen just getting into his reasons for going into copywriting. That’s where we’ll begin today.

Claudsy: Could you tell us all what it takes to be a successful copywriter and what one frustration does he/she need to expect on a regular basis?

Stephen: Copywriting, for me, is the art of importance. So much that I read from businesses, ads, commercials, brochures, catalogs and sales letters never rises to the occasion. It never creates or communicates something truly important.

I’d venture to say that 50% of all printed promotional effort is worthless. Too many believe that just because something is PRINTED, it is inherently important. It isn’t. Most of it is never read, in fact.

Good copy has to grab the reader immediately, hold on to them, even when they struggle to get away, and rivet them with one irrefutable message: “This is important to you.” The constant frustration for the copywriter is finding the fewest words that can cut with the precision of a surgeon. I can literally spend one full day, eight hours, on just one word, in copy that may only have a total of 20 words. For me, it’s a love-hate relationship with words.

At times, I curse what I do. But I wouldn’t trade my “Sisyphus rock” for anything. Any successful copywriter will have to deal with infinite rewrites. It never gets easier. Never.

Claudsy: Huh, just like every good story ever written. What kind of major WIP do you have going that you keep plugging away at and hope to finish soon?

 Stephen: First and foremost, my two young daughters. I know they’re not “mine.” But they are a gift that I am responsible for. I have to be there to guide, coax, comfort, challenge and cheer them. There are times when I am desperate to be writing, but I realize I can’t get back time I lose with my girls. So they come first. That may explain why you may never see that great WIP from me. But if it doesn’t come through me, it will hopefully come through in the way they share their love of life with others.

Ultimately, the reason I write is to share my understanding of the world. Do I want to be successful as a writer? Absolutely. But I write because I want people to appreciate life in all its colors. And if that comes through my wife or girls rather than my great story, I don’t need the credit. It’s enough for me. But to answer your question literally, I would like to leave behind at least one great story that will live on and inspire. Just one. What that is, I don’t know yet.

Claudsy: I know your family is extremely important to you. How much are they influenced by you work, or is the work what’s influenced?

 Stephen: Of course the answer is “both.” I show them my writing. My girls are just now getting old enough to understand what daddy does. My eldest girl is already a writer; she has her own computer file with plays and stories she’s working on. My other girl is a born actress. She has no qualms about expressing herself openly. I worry that it makes her the target of fun among school friends, but I’d much rather have her grow up being in touch with her love of life.

And my wife, my best friend, is also my best critic, saying what she likes or doesn’t. My family is pretty typical, so I do listen to what they respond well to, and what they dislike, and I take that into consideration when I write.

 Claudsy: Now, if you could give any one piece of advice to the budding playwright, what would it be?

 Stephen: Two vital lessons. One: observe every second of life around you with an “informed heart.” For the “informed” part, pay attention to body language, vocal inflections, specific physical behavior, and the ups and downs of conflict between people. For the “heart,” pay attention to what’s really going on underneath people’s external actions. That’s what’s really driving us as humans.

Lesson Two: enthusiasm. Let me repeat that with a little more enthusiasm: ENTHUSIASM. Check the root of that word, and you’ll find it has something to do with “the god in you.” Find enthusiasm every day; inject it into your bloodstream and your soul; infuse it into your plays and your writing; share it with others; infect them with it; and pass it on to the next generation.

Enthusiasm will keep mankind alive. If we can’t be enthusiastic about the gift of our existence and our experiences in all their beauty and terror, then everything else is pointless.

Claudsy: Wow. Excellent advice. Finally, Stephen, what do you have planned for your future in writing? Any books in there they we can expect to find on the shelves in the next couple of years?

Stephen: My wife and I write together. That may be pretty unusual. But as I mentioned earlier, she has a born storytelling talent. However, she hates to do the grunt work of writing it all down specifically, and finding the best way to say things. That’s what I love to do.

That’s why we can write plays together. She comes up with great storylines faster than I can rough them out as drafts. She probably has about 20 great children’s story book ideas lined up and waiting.

We have two or three main contenders that we are working on now. We have one more play to write this coming fall (they take about four to five months to write), and then we are “free.” I will also be finishing up my basic ICL course right about the same time. So after this year, I expect, and hope, that we will finally go full speed ahead on our manuscripts.

Ultimately, I feel that God brought Katee and I together for a reason. I believe there are stories she and I are meant to share in our lifetime, in some way. I don’t think happening upon the ICL—and meeting you and so many other wonderfully inspiring people and writers—was in any way a coincidence.

All the pieces are falling into place. I guess I’m hearing a divine directive: “This is important to you.” I only pray that I can impart to others an enthusiasm and a profound joy for every day of life—with all of its beauty and terrors—before my time comes.

Claudsy: I want to thank Stephen again for taking the time to be with us today. His schedule doesn’t always allow for such interruptions in an otherwise hectic season.

Short Personal Biography:

Stephen Eliasson lives with his wife, Katee, and his daughters. After his formal education, he took on the world of theater and then on into copywriting. He and his wife were commissioned to write commenorative plays for the Sesquicentennial celebrations for two separate cities.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts funded his “Shortales” Theater Ensemble. With his Swedish background he feels its important for all writers to learn other languages to broaden one’s understanding of the differences in language and the different ways of communicating concepts.

Even though Stephen hasn’t taken his writing talents to blog or website, his philosophy echoes that of other writers who take their time to emerge into the mainstream publishing arenas. His time is seriously packed with obligations so that taking precious time to do a blog seems too expensive at present.

Remember to leave your comments on this or any of my interviews. Tomorrow, as usual, I will take some aspect of this interview for a commentary. I hope all of you will stop by again to read and comment on it.

But, if you can’t make it tomorrow, keep in mind that on Monday our guest will be David Macinnis Gill, a marvelous writer and speaker.

Have a productive and creative February everyone and feel free to stop by any time to just say hello, and hopefully, learn something new.

A bientot,

Claudsy

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  1. Londy Leigh
    February 6, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Great interview with Stephen, Clauds.
    I learned a lot.
    You do a wonderful job with these.
    Thanks again, to you and Stephen!

    • claudsy
      February 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

      Thanks, Londy. Stephen is a remarkable person and a fantastic writer.

      Clauds

  2. February 8, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Great interview, Clauds and Stephen.

    My favorite phrase is below:

    “Enthusiasm will keep mankind alive. If we can’t be enthusiastic about the gift of our existence and our experiences in all their beauty and terror, then everything else is pointless.”

    Thanks
    Meena

  3. February 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Clauds, it’s been a while since I’ve visited your blog. You are doing a fantastic job interviewing amazing writers. I need to get back here far more often.

    Stephen, it’s great seeing you out here. Your presence is greatly missed “back home.”

  4. August 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “Do I want to be successful as a writer? Absolutely. But I write because I want people to appreciate life in all its colors. And if that comes through my wife or girls rather than my great story, I don’t need the credit. It’s enough for me. But to answer your question literally, I would like to leave behind at least one great story that will live on and inspire. Just one. What that is, I don’t know yet.” LOVE THIS.

    Clauds, do you think we can get Stephen back here again if we leave little comment crumbs?

    • claudsy
      August 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      I honestly don’t know, Marie. I could try to persuade him, I suppose and see just how busy he is in his current life. What do you say?

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