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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 142

Updated on March 20, 2017

The Death of the Arts

I had a spare few minutes the other day, so I took a quick peek at the President’s new Federal Budget proposal. Imagine my non-surprise to discover that Arts and Education are taking a big hit.

Then I was reading some Facebook feeds, and one gentleman explained that the Arts really should be a state concern, and the Federal Government has bigger fish to fry than worrying about funding the Arts.

And the hot potato continued to be tossed around, national concern, state concern, back and forth, and you and I know where this ends up . . . Arts taking a back seat in funding at every level unless . . .

I know this one truth about politicians and policy-makers: most of them, a high percentage of them, love their jobs. They love sitting in that seat of power, and they will do practically anything to retain that seat . . . including listening to concerned citizens. The squeaky wheel does, indeed, get the grease, and it is up to citizens . . . voters . . . taxpayers . . . to squeak loudly and often.

And not only squeak but also work closely with . . . there are solutions to the funding of the Arts and, if you are concerned about it, then you need to become part of the solution.

Get involved!

Now relax while I sift through the mail for you.

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room! | Source

Journalism Responsibility

From Eric: “Do you think there is a formula to follow it order to keep journalism "just the facts mam, just the facts". Does the who, what, when, where and how, (or what ever that is) keep it straight and mechanical? Or is it just a mindset not to opine? Probably not a mailbag question but a hint would be appreciated.”

Eric, I know you know what I’m about to say, so excuse me for stating the obvious.

As I mentioned last week, “Yellow Journalism” was a term coined back around 1900 to describe sensationalism in the press and, shall we say, less than truthful reporting. In other words, biased writing has been around for a very long time. I’m really rather amazed at all of the furor we hear lately about the biased press (fake press), and why can’t they just report the facts, and alternative facts, and blah, blah, and more blah.

HELLO!!!!! Newspapers are owned by corporations, and we all know what corporations do . . . they spend money to get favorable results for their stockholders. Sheez, this isn’t rocket science. Of course the press is biased!

So, Eric, to answer your question yes, the formula who, what, when, where, and how, is foolproof as long as the press follows it, but good luck finding a newspaper or television station that strictly follows it.

And yes, I’m a cynic!

Understanding HP....get it????
Understanding HP....get it???? | Source

Understanding HP

From Louise: “You’ve been around HP a lot longer than I have. Do you understand the scoring system there? What makes up a Hubber score? Who determines it and is there some formula it is based on?”

Louise, you’ve come to the right person. I know the exact answer to this question.

Go to the headquarters of HubPages in San Francisco. Ride the elevator up to the main office. Step off that elevator, go through a door on the right, walk down a hall, take the first door on the left and enter.

In that room is a giant dartboard. Gosh, the thing must be six feet in diameter. It’s a monster, really, so big you simply can’t miss if you throw a dart. Anyway, on the dartboard are a bunch of numbers ranging from 0-100, and in that room is one employee. That employee’s name is Burt, and Burt is the Vice-President of Quality Control.

Now Burt’s only job, each day, every single day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year, is to determine the Hubber scores for every Hubber. He does this alphabetically so, say, he pulls out my Hubber name, billybuc, and he picks up his trusted Black Widow soft-tip dart, and he gives it a toss. On that day he hits 85, so that is billybuc’s Hubber score for that day. He continues to do that until he has scored all 1,100 Hubbers. If he’s a quick tosser that day, he can knock off work by lunchtime. If he’s feeling his bursitis that day, he may be tossing until five.

It’s not a bad job but, as you might suspect, it is physically taxing, so they have, in the adjoining room, Maxine. Now Maxine was once a top-rated Olympic archer. She, too, has a giant dartboard, but Maxine uses bow and arrow instead of darts, and her job is to determine individual Hub scores each day.

So that’s how it’s all done at HubPages. If you’re ever in San Francisco, stop in and watch Burt and Maxine do their jobs. It’s really quite fascinating.

P.S....there is a rumor going around that the Russians tried to hack into the HubPages system of scoring, but it proved to be too complicated for them, and they gave up. I don't know how much truth there is to that.

Do these prove I'm a good writer?  I honestly don't know!
Do these prove I'm a good writer? I honestly don't know! | Source

SELF-ANALYSIS

From Terri: “How do I know if I’m any good as a writer? My family is almost forced to tell me my writing is decent, but that’s not an accurate assessment, so how do I know?”

Terri, it’s really a great question, and a question that shows you how self-aware you really are.

There are three people you can’t trust to appraise your writing: a family member, a good friend, and you. The first two are too afraid to hurt your feelings, and the third is too busy over-analyzing and over-critiquing to give a valid critique.

Go join a writers’ group . . . find one at the local junior college, or join one online, but find a bunch of strangers you can work with. They don’t give a darn about your feelings and more often than not their appraisals will be objective.

NON-FICTION

From Jermaine: “I’m thinking about writing a non-fiction book on playing the guitar, but I’m not sure how to organize it. Any suggestions?”

Jermaine, thanks . . . that’s kind of a broad question. You need to start with your purpose for writing it. Is it a “how to play the guitar” book? Is it more of a metaphysical look at the benefits of playing the guitar? Figure that one out first, if you haven’t already.

Next, jot down all of the important points you want to make in the book. Those will be your chapters. Next, organize those points in some kind of order that makes sense. Finally, start writing.

Shoot me an email at holland1145@yahoo.com if you want a more specific answer and I’ll help if I can.

Have a Marvelous Monday

So there you go! Another Mailbag tucked away, and a new week stretching out before us……

A week of unlimited possibilities…a week of incredible artistic achievements…a week of you, unfolding your wings, stretching those wings, and soaring with the angels of literature.

May the Arts live on forever!

Get out there and fly! A future generation of readers are counting on you!

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 months ago from New York, New York

      Loved your humor about the Russians and the Hubpage scores. Seriously made me smile this morning and who have thought anything with Russians and hacking could do that! But still Happy Monday, Bill and thank you always for your sage and wise advice here ;)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you got a chuckle, Janine! Let's make this the best Monday ever, okay? Thank you!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 months ago from london

      Another excellent Hub. I see the saga goes on about 'fake' news vs responsible journalism. How I love your answer! After all, it's not like man's greed and thirst for sensationalism has dissappeared.

      Seems to me anyway, that there can be a sort of 'narrow-mindedness' in adhering to rules and again, embellishment can sometimes be a good thing.

      In the wake of recent weeks, hope that the weather is now kinder to you. I trust that the funding for the Arts do increase also.

      Your take on the Hub scores are just brilliant, Bro. Cheers!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 4 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub Billy on your mailbag of the week. You did make me laugh with the dartboard bit concerning the HP scores and the Russian bit too. I agree with you with your thoughts about the Arts taking a hit, thanks to POTUS's evil ways. We need to keep it alive by talking to her local congressman or woman and senator and have them veto that act.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      Love the answer re the hub scores, bill! It seems it's exactly that system that they use. I gave up trying to figure it out ages ago and I don't think it matters much.

      As for the Arts, well it's the same here. They seem to think it's not as important as most money-grabbing areas. Shame they don't realise the impact of writing, painting, drama, sculpture, etc, etc; it fires the human soul, it inspires ideas, great inventions, imagination for life. It also provides much employment. It all lifts our hearts and minds and that's worth all the money in the world!

      Hope your Monday is multi-momentous and mind-blowingly artistic, bill!

      Ann :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Loved your answer in regard to how the HubPages scoring system works. I think you got a bullseye there :) Just that answer alone was worth reading the mailbag this week. Our Government is virtually ignoring funding to the arts as well...leaving it to philanthropists to invest money in. Have a great one, Bill.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Won't it be great when they take my suggestion to make politicians give fifty percent of all political contributions to the arts. But I am sorry to say that anything to do with Hollywood type art will be excluded.

      Thank you for giving us another wonderful installment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, you are showing off again, Ann! LOL How am I suppose to beat that array of M words?

      I doubt things will ever change for the ARTS...it will always be the ugly step-sister destined to stand on the sidelines at the school dance. Sigh!

      Have a meaningful, majestic, and malady-free Monday!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kristen, it's the only way to stop the defunding of the Arts, I'm afraid. We can no longer count on our elected officials to act on our behalf unless we become a constant thorn in their sides.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Manatita! Fake news has always confused me. I just assume most new is, to a certain degree, fake. What is a shocker, to me, is that people believe it all without doing any research on issues. That, to me, is almost stupid.

      Warmer weather yesterday and today, thank the gods!

      Blessings always, dear friend

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I just might agree with you about the Hollywood type art....thanks for being here, buddy...I like the idea of fifty percent to the Arts.

      Eric for President!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      John, I'm afraid that's how it is here as well. Luckily we have quit4e a few philanthropists willing to do exactly that. Heck, Bill Gates alone could fund the entire Arts community.

      Thanks, buddy!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! And happy first day of Spring! Glad the mail man got my mailbag to me, being the always faithful and dependable guy that he is!

      Have a great week and think Spring!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 months ago from Chicago Area

      G'morning!

      Re: Self Analysis. True, you, your family, and friends are not ideal choices to evaluate whether your work is "good enough." Outside help is helpful. And don't forget that even if your work passes inside or outside approval, there is truly only one critic that's important: The reader.

      Re: Guitar Book. In addition to your great suggestions on figuring out the focus of the book, figuring out who the reader will be is equally important. If it is a "how to" book, at what level is the reader? Never picked up a guitar? Some experience? Put yourself in the reader's mind and that can make the book more relevant and, surprisingly, easier to write.

      Happy Spring!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

      Thanks; that's exactly what I need, bill!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, dear friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great points on the guitar book Heidi, but that comes as no surprise for me. Thanks for your thoughts, my friend, and Happy Monday to you. Fifty and sunny here!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Spring, Melissa! Sunny here...unbelievable! Not terribly warm, but still sunny!

      Have a great Monday and, as always, thank you!

      bill

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill I was in need of a good laugh (or at least a feeble chuckle) this morning and you came through. The hubber scoring process is fascinating. I'm glad you were able to crack the code.

      As for journalism--oh sigh!! I don't think we even know what true journalism is anymore. Little that we hear is what we need to know; much of what is passed off as news is nothing more than sensationalism.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Linda, and I'm afraid journalism will only get worse over the next few years. It requires some dogged determination to do the research necessary to find the truth, and most Americans don't have that determination. :)

      Happy Spring to you, my friend!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very much entertaining and also informative mailbag. You made us smile with your description of the HP scoring system. It resembles tarot reading and the betting wheel game. Your opening paragraph is also a good point that required mention.

      I appreciate your humor and knowledge.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Venkatachari M, and I appreciate your loyal following and friendship.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 4 months ago from Fresno CA

      Okay, I can so visualize Bert and Maxine that I almost want to apply for the job. I was actually taking note of which floor to get off the elevator on. But it is sort of incomprehensible. My score fluctuates between 89 and 95 on any given day and it isn't about the writing because I haven't written anything new in over 4 months. (I know, I know, I need to get back at it but I was feverishly working on my Master's degree thesis and now that it's done and I'm a Master... I have no excuse.) The point is I have no idea what makes that score rise and fall. If I did, I'd do more to make it rise. Perhaps that's the point. They don't want us to know or we'd do more to make the numbers go up. At any rate, your story was inspired! Thanks for a laugh this morning.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      I'm a big advocate for funding the arts program into the education system. I believe:

      1. It costs less to support the arts then it does to rehabilitate persons who get into trouble because of drugs, crime, etc.

      2. Offering a selection of arts to students not only releases their dormant creativity, it's well documented that a person's self-esteem and confidence are elevated. A personal, emotional need in all of us can be filled which promotes

      The arts contribute to student achievement and success. The arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children.

      Six major types of benefits associated with study of the arts and student achievement are:

      1. READING AND LANGUAGE SKILLS

      2. MATHEMATICS SKILLS

      3. THINKING SKILLS

      4. SOCIAL SKILLS

      5. MOTIVATION TO LEARN

      6. POSITIVE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

      Sorry about ranting on. It's difficult to step off my soap box when it comes to this subject.

      Great mailbag as always.

      love,

      audrey

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      p.s.

      Forgot to mention how very much I love your interpretation of hub scores. Brilliant! When you added the line about the Russians I wet myself! :)

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 4 months ago from Europe

      Yeah, Bill, the HP scores :) This discussion will never end I guess. Good idea to give Burt a dart board! The scores are not as complicated as they seem. Burt has maybe many different coloured and weighing darts. Maxine is maybe appointed to rotate Burt's board when he's going to the toilet...

      Wish you a great week, Bill.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Well, rarely do I lol reading the mailbag, but today I did! I share your concern's for the cuts in art. Trump hates Hollywood and anything connected. He loved his show until the ratings plummeted. Thanks once again...

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 months ago from Norfolk

      Glad you were able to start this Monday with a little humour. Perhaps the real story about Hub Score will emerge one day but I think not but at least you can in the meantime play your part in faking what really lies behind those scores. Happy Monday Billy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, I don't think we'll ever really know how those scores are determined, and maybe it's just as well that we remain ignorant. :) Thanks for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      He is a strange duck for sure, Ruby. I suspect he's smarter than he appears...cunning in fact...as most sociopaths are.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, I'm laughing...when he goes to the toilet...great addition to my whimsy. Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh my, Audrey, I'm sorry about that. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No, no, Audrey, rant on! I read someone on Facebook yesterday, and they were saying evidently the Left would rather we drop our defense budget and be attacked, but keep the budget for painting and sculptures. I don't even know how to deal with that kind of ridiculous comment. Why does it have to be an either or? And what good does it do to attack someone who doesn't believe in the same things as you?

      I don't understand people, Audrey!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 months ago

      Great mailbag this week, Bill, my friend. I especially enjoyed Louise's question and your answer. However, you forgot to mention that Burt was blind and Maxine lost one hand in a hunting accident. Love it anyway.

      Don't get me started on cutting out the arts. My blood pressure would skyrocket! See you next time.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, thank you! I'm clueless about those scores, have been now for almost six years. It shall forever remain a mystery in my life, and I can live with that. :)

      blessings always

      bill

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 4 months ago

      Dear billy,

      HP makes no sense when it comes to scoring. I write because I love to write and I love the friends I have made here. Many of my articles have been pegged for other sites , but HP wants me to add links, and honestly I just don't have the patience. The site is meant for those who want to be a part of a writing community. As fa as the Russians are concerned, I am positive the have been manipulating my scores!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, I've been keeping close tabs on your scores, and it wreaks of Russian interference for sure. Seems like there must be something we can do about that, but I just don't know who to call. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Not another word from me, MizB, about the Arts. We don't want that blood pressure of yours to spike.

      Thanks dear friend....lost one hand, eh? LOL

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's sad news about the proposed budget and the arts. Thanks for sharing your suggestion for dealing with it, Bill. Thanks for the entertainment in this article, too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      If the Russians do not have the know-how on hacking into HP, does that mean that the HP systems managers are super smart? Thanks, Bill for another great mix of information and entertainment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Smarter than our government, evidently, Dora! LOL Thanks so much for the laugh, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I'll be by your latest soon. Have a great week!

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 4 months ago from Chicago, IL

      What a great Hub- or collection of Hubs! Great answers and advice. Don't know how long it will take me to backtrack but I intend to do so! Thanks for giving me a whole new list of things to read for my reading list. Where do you get the question by the way (perhaps this is covered on an earlier Hub but it will be a while before I read back to one!)

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I think people seek out news they want to read, that which supports their own views.

      Regarding the hubber score, I use to worry about it, but I reckon you're spot on in your description.

      Hope your week is going well.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, at one time, I think we all worried about the score...now it's a source of humor for me. And you are right on with regards to news sources. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Natalie! People leave questions in the comment section, or email me at holland1145@yahoo.com

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 4 months ago from Chicago, IL

      Bill - I hope you agree with the saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I have taken your example and intend to begin a series answering questions I receive through this site and others about psychology. I hope you do not mind. It will be called The Psychology Query. Thanks again for a truly amazing series. You are a great model of how to write successfully on topics that are of use to your readers and how to do it well. Looking forward to many installments to come.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Natalie, I don't mind at all. I'm flattered. Thank you for the kind words, and best of luck with that new series. I'll be by to watch it grow.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 4 months ago from Oklahoma

      Been on vacation due to creative burnout. Playing catchup here. Another wonderful article:-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Larry! I hope you had a great vacation!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      I've occasionally been tempted to put my statistics hat on and try to crack the code for HubberScores but if the Russians can't do it, what would make me crazy enough to think an I/O Psychologist could do it? Also, if the Russians are any model, bad things happen (like falling out of windows, poison) to people who know too much. Revel in the surprise. I like that it changes so frequently. I was once a 100 but am now in the low 90s. Occasionally I get as high as 94. It's a numbers party.

    • jo miller profile image

      jo miller 4 months ago from Tennessee

      Very interesting mailbag this week. I would, however, like to defend journalism. I believe that good journalism is still being taught and practiced. Not all of the people in the media, however, are journalists. As my husband likes to say, they have all of these hours to fill up, so some of it is just nonsense. It is our job to learn to tell the difference. Listen to Margaret Warner on PBS News Hour. She'll restore your faith in good journalism.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, for sure there are still unbiased journalists, but I do also believe that, as a general rule, especially on the national stage, and television for sure, most reporting is slanted....but bravo to those who report "just the news" without slant. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is for sure, Flourish, and thanks for the laugh this morning. I'm at 84, can't seem to get about 87, and I'm fine with that.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 4 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      It is always a pleasure to read your mailbag posts. I like your sense of humor about the hub score and the advice you give to us writers. Well done

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Nadine! When it comes to the Hub Score, it just makes good sense to laugh.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - I see that Russian humor is taking over the HP. I heard the Taliban destroyed the arts when they took over a country. Go figure.

      You may have stumbled on to the Secret of the HP Score. There can be no better system.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, I heard that about the Taliban too. One has to ask why they would do that? Obviously they feel the Arts are important for a culture. Who am I to argue with them?

      Thanks buddy!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 months ago from Central Florida

      I love your response to the Hubber score question, Bill. Your answer was so eloquent, someone who doesn't know you may have taken you seriously!

      Thanks for the laugh; I really needed it today!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I aim to please. I'll be playing this club all week, so come back and visit again. LOL Thanks my friend.

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