Michael Waters talks as regards what inspired him to write his new book, Becoming Guise-Wise.
I interviewed Michael Waters about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the work that went into his latest publication, Becoming Guise-Wise.
Tell me a little bit about who Michael Waters are:
Biographically I could tell you that I had a wonderful childhood in Kent, I have two (wonderful) grown-up daughters, I hold high office and respect in the world for personal education and development (I wrote the world’s first general guide to personal development – The Element Dictionary of Personal Development) and have worked with hundreds of different organizations on all types of projects. I would also like to add that I have trained and coached many people (including some famous ones) to make difficult decisions; a national newspaper called me “The Decision Doctor”.
At the risk of sounding ridiculously arrogant, I think the most important thing about me is that I seem loaded with some of the mega-ideas the world needs most to make it work. One is the need (and means) to achieve great things quickly, a phrase that forms part of the subtitle of the book I published at the start of the first Covid lockdown: The Power of Surge. Pandemics and natural disasters amplified by climate change are exactly what I meant by “big things”. I am the founder of Surge Studies (surgestudies.org).
Another mega idea is contained in my latest book Becoming Guise-Wise. The goal is for all of us to move from a standard approach to responding to others that prioritizes differences, to one that prioritizes the commons, to dramatically increase compassion, kindness, and good neighborliness, greatly reduce conflict, division, and polarization, and Have a host of other benefits, including improved mental health.
When did ye first want to write a book?
When I was very young, I wrote little “books”, but of course only for myself, my family, and my friends. At the age of 23, I became the first teacher in the UK to teach A-level communication studies and I wanted to write a course book for it.
When did you decide to start writing?
I can’t remember when I didn’t write, but I started writing for the publication when I was 20 years old. I have written articles on a variety of subjects including New Society (long dead sadly), TES, and various management and training magazines. I believe the first major scholarly article I published was an article in the Journal of Garden History on The Conservatory in Victorian Literature.
How long did it take you to complete your first book, from idea to publication?
My first book was The Garden in Victorian Literature, a scholarly volume based on my Ph.D. Thesis. It probably took six months to write the two-volume work, but it probably took less than a few months to turn it into a (mostly abridged) book.
How tall did it take for thine latest book to go from idea to publication?
The time scale is complicated. I had the idea for at least seven years before I finished the first draft of the book, and that was mainly because I did extensive research, meddling in many different relevant industries, and developing the theory myself. I found the first draft too broad and scholarly, so I wrote a whole different book for a much wider audience. Took me about six months, but from start to finish (release) it took almost two years.
Focus on the latest version. What prompted you to write Becoming Guise-Wise?
I felt compelled to write this because I knew that most of our problems ultimately boiled down to how we reacted to other people and groups and that it came primarily from noticing differences. I was convinced we had to start responding to what we had in common. My particular concern was to present what I believe to be a simple but profound strategy to achieve this goal. Again, this will likely make me feel like the next Messiah (which I am not), but I felt that something was missing from Jesus’ warning to love our enemies and our neighbors: “How.”Writing Becoming Guise-Wise is my contribution to how.
What were the biggest challenges in writing Becoming Guise-Wise?
There were several challenges. What I quoted above did not seem to claim an audience with God, although I thought I was entrusted with a message that needed to be spread as widely as possible. Another challenge was to go beyond the almost trivial notion that all of humanity is one. Many people have talked about it, but my concern was to show you how to put it into practice in a simple way that any of us could do.
The fact that the post was simply meant that I could (probably) have wrapped it up in a simpler format: an article, a YouTube video, or something similar. I wanted it to be a (short) book, so I hope I took up the challenge of simply providing a solid argument without unnecessary explanation or repetition. A related challenge was to make the book rigorous and concise enough to support the arguments I presented without limiting its availability. I wanted it to be a book that most “normal” people would find very readable.
I was also very aware of another challenge: intentional, harmful, or careless reading. I have tried many times throughout the book not to underestimate the importance of difference and diversity, only community should come first. I suspect that some readers, including those with special interests, may be unwittingly or even intentionally misleading me. It was a risk I felt compelled to take.
How was your research process for Becoming Guise-Wise?
The book distills a lot of reading, especially books/articles about humanity, relationships, perception, identity, conscious evolution, peace, conflict, and personal and transpersonal growth. But a lot comes from observation and my own experiences, including, as I explain in the book, working with organizations where I’ve helped bring about profound change by keeping my focus on one thing, often one question.
How did you design the structure of Becoming Guise-Wise?
The letter contained some structural elements, but I started with a rough and probably quite rational outline. I knew I should spend the first part identifying the root cause of our problems and paying attention to the problems themselves, and then moving on to the solution and its benefits. I knew that the following chapters would contain the details of my proposed strategy, the arguments and evidence for its effectiveness, and other ideas for implementing it. It seemed like a pretty obvious and logical progression.
Did you have help with the assembly and how much time does it take you to Becoming Guise-Wise?
Not much. The book was “professionally” edited (i.e. by the publisher), but to be honest some of the editing was shoddy and sloppy and I had to point out gross editorial errors such as omissions on several occasions. It was a frustrating and delayed release.
What is the first piece of writing advice ye would give someone that inspired me to write a book?
Conduct market research to make sure what you’re about to say hasn’t been discussed before. Or make sure what you offer is something original. Sure, there are countless books on the same subject, and it’s a wonder at least some of them are accepted, but it will come in handy for a future author who has something new to offer.
Another piece of advice I’d like to give is don’t write it if you need to make a lot of money. If so, great. But don’t spend months of your life on a writing project that’s all about generating income. There are easier and many less risky ways to generate income.
Last but not least, be prepared for rejection reactions. I was very, very happy; Most of my books were accepted by the first publishers I approached, but I turned to the more specialized ones on the subject, which certainly helped.
Can ye tell me what other books ye want to write?
Yes, I’m working on an e-book. His working title (although it’s probably a real title) is Should I or Shouldn’t I? The best and easiest way to make a scary decision. I’m also two-thirds of the way through a book I call The Delightist’s Handbook. As the title suggests, it’s all about knowing how to impress others.
And finally, are ye proud of thine success? It was worth it?
Yes, that’s me. I’m proud of all the books I’ve written (and contributed to), especially since I’m here to serve the world and others, to do good, and to make a positive impact. I’m not interested in personal fame or honor; I try to stay below the social media threshold (as you can see from the restricted links below).
Add any links to thine books, websites, and social media here so readers can find ye:
You have to wait 35 seconds.