The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 137
I Appreciate All of You
I really do! Some of you have been here for every single one of these 137, and I find that not only remarkable but humbling. We should all be so lucky as to have such devoted friends and followers.
So thank you!
Let’s do this! We have a full bag of mail and we need to tackle it.
Are We Born with It?
From Mary: “Do you think people are born with a talent to be writers or is it something we can all do with enough perseverance? Is it like singing or drawing, you either got it or you don't.”
This is a tough question for me to answer, Mary, especially since I’m a former teacher who always told his students they could do anything they set their mind on. I have a friend who is a voice teacher, and she says that anyone can sing with the proper training. I’m not going to argue with that assessment. She has the expertise and she is quite successful, but I’m not sure I’m willing to say the same thing about writing.
Here’s the thing: you give me enough time to train someone, and I can teach them to write consistently with proper English….but that doesn’t mean they are then a writer. I can even teach someone how to control the rhythm of a piece, but I can’t teach them how to develop that nebulous thing called “voice.” Some writers have a distinctive voice and some, I think, never will have one, and that part I think we are born with. The truly good writers instinctively know how to construct a sentence, or paragraph, or story, in such a way that will elicit emotions from the readers, and that is a gift and cannot be taught.
Just my opinion, of course!
From Audrey: “Writing goals - ah yes! Working on this. Finding time to devote to HP hubs, commenting on hubs, writing for Niume, being an active participant, editing - when do I find time to concentrate on my book? I teach everyday, perform piano, practice, work on my website, go to the Y, errands, and on and on. Help!”
Audrey, you don’t need help; you need a kick in the pants. LOL You need to determine which of those things are most important and then schedule around that list of importance. If that book is a priority then HP and commenting and NIUME all need to be pushed to the back burner for awhile. I get that you teach voice every day, and perform, and practice your art . . . and those things should always come first . . . but with regards to writing, all that other stuff, the HP and blog and NIUME, needs to be relegated to the second tier with the book at the top.
I don’t know how to say that with more emphasis! If the book is the priority, after earning a living and taking care of you, of course, then make it the priority.
The Weather and Writing
From Ruby: “I have a desire to write SOMETHING, but I'm as dry as an old bone. That happens to me when it's cold and gloomy. I'm wondering if the weather affects others? Thanks Bill.”
Ruby, I’m sure it does. I know there have been studies on this, but I don’t remember the results of those studies. LOL I know for me, sunny, warm weather shuts me down immediately. Wet, dreary weather is my cup of tea for writing.
But I read one study that said dreary weather kills creativity, so maybe I’m just weird.
From Karen: “I have a question for you regarding CreateSpace. I have read some very negative reviews about CreateSpace in terms of their print books being unprofessional in terms of folded pages in the finished products, crooked printing, etc. Have you ever had those issues with the print versions of your books?”
Karen, I’ve published five novels, one non-fiction, and five novellas with CreateSpace and never once encountered the problems you are talking about. The thing I’ve come to realize with reviews like that is there will always be someone, somewhere, who has had a problem with a perfectly good product. It’s bound to happen, right, if that product has mucho sales. I love Ford Ranger pickup trucks but I know someone who had one break down, so there you go. I still love them and think they are great trucks.
There are a ton of books published by CreateSpace. I’d be amazed if 100% of them turned out perfect. Personally, I think you can trust that company to deliver 99 times out of 100.
Color Pictures and Cookbooks
From Mike: “Lots of interesting questions again this week. The color pictures in a cookbook question is a tough one. There are people that can print 100 copies of a book. That still would be a financial risk for the author.”
Mike is referring to a question last week from Linda about whether to have color pictures in a self-published book. I advised that color pictures drastically increase the price of self-publishing, and it might be best to skip them in the cookbook. Mike mentions another route to take, the indie presses that you can find in most major cities. I published my first book at a printing company twenty miles from where I live, and it cost me $600 for 100 books. I don’t know about the rest of you, but $600 is a huge investment for this boy.
So, there are risks involved no matter which route Linda takes with that cookbook.
CRIPPLED WITH FEAR
From Eric: “In your time have you seen writers crippled by the resistance and fear who when they overcame were just fantastic writers?”
Eric, I don’t know any personally, but I’ve read about quite a few best-selling authors and yes, there are a few who fit what you are describing. The thing that really jumps out at me when reading their biographies is how shy many of them are, or were, and how much they hate, or hated, promoting their books.
Sound familiar? I’ll bet most people who read this are going to nod their heads in agreement.
From Brian: “In your reply to Linda, you said that Create Space has hard cover or e-book options, yet your books shown in a photo are paperbacks, not hard cover books. Is there a term that refers to all forms of printed on paper books—hard cover or hardbound, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, bound in boards, leather bound, spiral-bound, self-wrappers, and so on—as distinct from e-books? 'Hard copy' refers to any printout of data, even on a single sheet of paper, so it is too broad a term for specifically books. Printed with ink book? Dead tree book?”
I think Mike gave the perfect answer to this, Brian . . . they are called “printed books.” I can’t do better than that description.
NIUME AND TRAVEL ARTICLES
From Bill: “Great mailbag this week. I have yet to venture over to Niume but I was wondering if you have any idea how travel articles do there? I'm not really looking to leave HPs, just curious.”
Bill, prior to yesterday, I would have said NIUME is the best site for travel articles. Mine have done quite well there, better than at HP for sure.
But yesterday NIUME started monkeying around with their site. They now monitor how long a reader spends reading an article, and they don’t count it as a “read” if that reader only glances and then leaves the site. In other words, they are only rewarding writers for views if the view is of a certain length of time.
So now I’m going to say “wait and see” regarding the recent NIUME changes. It may not be as good as it once was, but only time will tell.
Join me on my writing blog?
- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Great Questions from Great Followers
One reason I love this series is because half my work is done for me. You guys, and gals, have the tough work, dreaming up these questions. Me? I just toss out my thoughts, sprinkle in a little b.s., and call it an article.
Thanks to you all! See you next week.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly”