Lately, I go contacted by Lancelot Schaubert to review his debut novel & we decided to share with you an interview. I asked questions I think could profit to many of you (if not all of you), whether you are into writing or not. He is actually not “just” into writing but in many other art forms as well & his views on art are absolutely wonderful in my opinion. Let’s get started with the interview!
Find a copy of Lancelot Schaubert’s last book, BELL HAMMERS, here.
Could you tell us why you started writing, & what your very first piece of writing was? What age were you?
My very first piece of writing was probably about magic, I don’t remember. I still have my 4th grade comic I wrote for class.
I started writing because I started reading, but also because imagination is a way of begetting myself to creatures who — if I do my job — become real willful beings.
What is your favorite art form? Why?
Sculpting entices me the most because it’s basically all of the brawn and dust and metal of masonry, but it can shape the softest skin of an infant girl. Abraham Mohler is my favorite living sculptor. It’s important to support living artists: Van Gogh received
none of the money MOMA paid for his work.
What do you mean when you write on your website that “virtue is the soul of the renown”? What are your views on the purpose of art?
The only point of making anything or doing anything or being anything is to become a better person. Not long ago, Google’s founder Larry Page said, “Give us your data and Google will make you smarter, richer, more famous, and more efficiently powerful.” And a virtue ethicist I know asked, “Will it make me better?”
Of course it won’t. Habits of mercy and love do that.
So the whole part isn’t to be famous, but to have renown. And renown comes from works of true greatness: not people who aspired to be great or powerful, but people who aspired to be good and true and real and unifiers — not dividers — and beautiful souls.
The people who do that actually change the world. That’s the irony: if you want to change the world, you have to change your heart, change your mind. Only when you become a certain kind of person will the world want to do the same.
Why is it important for you to promote the work of other artists?
Because the odds are that I’m nothing special and they are. And also art — despite what Eurovision or American Idol say — is not a competition. It’s not a hierarchy. It’s more like the bounty of a biodiverse garden and better plants lead to more and better
plants and healthier food and a more beautiful, overall, landscape.
That’s what Kanye doesn’t get.
And yet, he promotes the work of other artists, so maybe he gets it, deep down. How could anyone not?
Also: everyone else pisses on and steals from artists. Someone needs to cheer them on.
How are you able to jungle everything you do without burning out? Do you have any tips for really productive people like you?
I actually might be burning out. So my first tip is not to be like
me, but out of my weakness I’ll say I’m studying Heschel’s SABBATH and Sertillanges’s THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE, both of which emphasize habit, discipline, rest, and the courage to be one’s self when at rest and quiet. I’m really, really bad at this. I’m a really
restless person, in general. The second piece is don’t make art to prove something, but to be someone. Don’t make art because you have something to prove to the world, but because you have something to give the world. The last piece is all in the book MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN and THE WAR OF ART: collaboration is how artists delegate, project lists, backburners, action steps, calendars all help. Also budgeting. Basic personal finance from a book like THE MILLIONAIRE MIND, which is very biased towards capitalism, but will help you consider your own frugality and how to reinvest in the business of art rather than starve.
What would be your top-three tips, or your one big tip for new writers?
If this is what you’re called to do, do it. Don’t whine about it, just do it. Read the old books. The ones you’re intimidated
of like DOSTOEVSKY and THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA and PLATO’S REPUBLIC. Read a good translation. And when you have, come back and tell me just how approachable it was for you. Lighten up and have fun. I wasted too many years in worry and as I age, I realize that’s not who I want to become.
Why do you spend your time writing articles rather than always writing books? I am a true believer that articles are a beyond important from of writing, but many writers don’t. What are your views on articles?
So I actually spend a lot more time writing books, this is just the first one that’s been of a quality I feel ready to share. The irony is that articles can come out quicker and get snapped up by publishers with a much lower bar of entry, so you publish more of those and short stories early on based on the simplicity and the sheer economics of the thing. The other irony is that you end up sharing more of your worst work because your best work hides for so unbelievably long.
But I find articles important.
They’re important for the self-evident first line from CHEESE by G.K. Chesterton: “My forthcoming work in five volumes, `The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,’ is a work of such unprecedented
and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it. “
Obviously we don’t need a five volume work on the neglect of cheese in European Literature. That’s why it’s funny. Having so many books like SALT or MILK! or COD or PAPER try to explain world history through these items is more of a satire of us, a consumeristic
society, than it is of Chesterton’s point.
An article on SALT would suffice. I find the longer stuff needs to be reserved for truly original thought or very immersive epic fiction.
Also: articles often offer triage on emergency ideas or situations that arise and frequently — as in the case of Dr. David Bentley Hart’s response to the tsunami in the Wall Street Journal that
became THE DOORS OF THE SEA — they expand later into more systematic thought or, in the case of some short stories, fiction.
Why do you share so many free resources? What is the place of money in your work?
I have a ton of patrons that pay my salary. I’m starting to sell more albums. But for me, the point is to make generative work that begets more artists who make the world more beautiful and true and good and united. As Joseph Gordon-Levitt says, “We don’t make
movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” I live that way and am, generally, more happy when I’m making than when I’m selling.
But that’s the second question first.
I share free stuff for three reasons: (1) to be relentlessly helpful in ways that (2) make lasting connections so that (3) I can build long-term relationships with readers and other creators. Generally that starts with an email and people generally don’t give up their email without something free.
You refer quite a lot to book clubs on your website: why is discussing books important to you?
Because you read a book with your body, your spirit, and your mind. The latter two only emerge after reflecting. You have an emotional or sensual reaction to a book, sure. But for the imagination, reason, and intellect to engage, you have to sit down and ponder and talk about it.
Also, historically, communities change by reading and reflecting, collectively, on great books. Predominately scripture but also Aristotle (for the Thomists), Augustine (for the reformers), and so on.
Tell us anything you want, really.
Fame is overrated. Obscurity is underrated. Montages lie about mastery. Wealth can’t buy good friends who will call you out on your sins. Honor and gratitude need to be reforged for our societies. Power is powerless. Chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just left unrequited and unreceived. And the best leaders I’ve ever known were all artists. But so were the worst. Typically failed artists or bullied artists. So character matters most: better a beautiful soul than a beautiful song, better living good in the poetry of life than using evil to get poetry on the page.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. Lancelot is such a kind person and a talented artist. Definitely have a look at his website, you won’t be disappointed. We need more artists like him to share this wholesome views on art.
I wish you the best of all days,