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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 161

Updated on July 31, 2017

Here We Go Again

I need continuity. I have such a compulsive personality that continuity provides a degree of peacefulness for me. I don’t expect everyone to understand that. It’s not terribly important that they do. For me, having certain things happen at the same time, on the same day, is important in combating the personal demons I have.

So the Mailbag is important to me. I like the fact that it comes out every Monday at the same time. It gives me something to build the rest of my week schedule around, and again, that’s important . . . to me.

So I’m happy that all of you enjoy the Mailbag. You are doing me a great service by doing so.

So let’s get to it so I can get my weekly fix of continuity.

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

Gut Instinct

From Eric: “If you do not like a "who done it" you are nuts. Which brings me to my question. How much of your work is just like the cops? "a gut instinct". In my area of writing here it is more gut than brains. But my "ghost" legal writing is way more brains. Do you have an on and off switch?”

It’s an interesting question, Eric. I’m a “seat of my pants” kind of guy. I have tons of experience in my life to base most of my actions upon, so I really don’t spend a lot of time planning out an action, and that’s true in writing as well. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do outlines for my novels. Most of the time I don’t have a clue where a novel is going until I’m about halfway through; I don’t recommend that approach for other writers, but it works for me and that’s all that’s important for this writer.

That answer is revised a bit when talking about my freelance work. When I’m writing for a customer, much of my work is based on their needs, so gut instinct takes a back seat to those needs.

And when I’m building a chicken coop, all bets are off. LOL

Look at this old man! I don't have time to revise all of my articles.
Look at this old man! I don't have time to revise all of my articles. | Source

Revising Old Articles

From Sally: “One of your earlier hubs popped into my mailbox earlier today and read it with enjoyment and then this new mailbag arrived a little while later. It made me curious so I went looking to see whether all of your mailbox hubs and or writing have been moved to the niche sites! You have written 1,238 articles here to date! That sure is some accomplishment especially since I have not even reached my first 100 and I know how much effort I have had to put in to do only that. My excuse is of course that I have to do all the work and take all the photos before I can put pen to paper:) This leads me to a question. Do you or have you visited all your past hubs to make them comply with all the changes which HubPages have asked for over the years or have you not bothered? I don't think I could cope with having to write new stuff and keep on going back to my work if I had so many hubs. Happy Monday Billy.”

Sally, this is one of the easiest questions I’ve had to answer in a long time. No, I absolutely refuse to go back and revise my articles to make HP happy. That’s not why I’m here. I’m simply here to socialize, have a public forum for my articles, and help others. I never joined to make money, and I could care less what money I make here. I do quite well in the money department without HP’s help, thank you very much.

Having said that, I think it’s important to point out that if your goal is to make money on HP, it is absolutely necessary to revise your articles. “How to” articles really need to comply. Someone recently announced on Facebook that they just reached over five million HP views. Blew me away since I still haven’t hit one million, but considering the types of articles she writes, I guess it’s understandable, especially if she revised her articles to keep up with the whims of the Google gods.

You seem to be doing quite well with your “wet felting” articles. Could you do better on HP if you revised all those articles? Maybe….probably….but whether you do so depends on the personal drive you have, your goals, and the desire to play that particular game with the HP staff.

Nature is my MFA
Nature is my MFA | Source


From Zulma: “What are your thoughts on MFA in Creative Writing? Do you think a structured programme like this could interfere with the creative flow? I'd be interested in your take on this as a teacher and a writer.”

I assume, Zulma, that MFA stands for a Master in Fine Arts, correct? It’s the only MFA I know about, so that’s how I’ll answer the question.

I really think it depends on how the program is structured, Zulma. I don’t see it as very different from any advanced course. If a program is structured to embrace creativity, then I think it would be beneficial. If it is too structured, and the emphasis is on structure and grammar and other terribly mundane facets of writing, then I can see it being an impediment to creativity rather than an aid.

As you might suspect, I’m huge on education, but I should revise that and say I’m huge on helpful and inspired education.

Having said all that, I would venture to guess that a great many legendary creative writers never had an MFA. I’d go as far as to say many of them never had formal training, beyond the basics, in creative writing at all, so that speaks volumes about the value of the creative process which is just naturally there in some people.

Those are just my random thoughts, and I hope some of the readers share their opinions.

Photos can be easily downloaded on CreateSpace using templates provided
Photos can be easily downloaded on CreateSpace using templates provided | Source

Createspace Templates

From Bill: “Well Bill, another great week of Q's and A's. You mentioned to John that CreateSpace has a template which allows for pictures as well as text. Where do I find that. I've never seen that before, but I'd be interested in checking it out.”

Hey, Bill, good to hear from you. If you follow this link I think you’ll find what you are looking for. In addition, there are a number of good articles about formatting the interior available on the CreateSpace website.

I hope that helps, buddy! Have a great vacation and hopefully we’ll catch up with each other when you get to western Washington this week.


There we go. I’m a happy camper, continuity has been achieved!

I mentioned on my blog last week that my dad worked at a crap job for twenty-five years, supporting our family, and I never once heard him complain. I find that amazing, quite frankly. I’ve worked crap jobs before, but you can bet I quit them as soon as possible.

Which brings me to my final point: those of you out there, like me, who write for a living . . . we are so incredibly lucky! We get to do something we love, get paid for it, and isn’t that just damned amazing? I look forward to my work week. I look forward to creating. I look forward to continuing a noble tradition established many millennia ago, and I am thrilled to know that long after I am dead, my writings will live on, an eternal legacy by yours truly.

Too cool for words!

Have a great week of creating!

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, that is frightening! Knock that off, please! LOL As for MFAs, I have a bit of that snob in me,too.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No complaining from me either, Jo! I'm just glad whenever you stop by. Thank you!

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      18 months ago from Tennessee

      I like the continuity of your Mailbag, Bill. It always makes me smile. And, I usually respond to your mailbag about a week late. I have too much crammed into my days, but as long as I love the life I'm living, I'm not complaining.

      You're an inspiration.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      18 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - I am just under the wire, before tomorrow's mailbag. The snob in me thinks the MFA will be more benefit to those that eventually teach, than those that will actually write. My youngest with her MA knows all the rules, but when I ask what she is writing, I never get a satisfactory answer. I compare it to knowing how to build a chicken coop and not building one.

      Oh, about HP. They sent me a notice regarding so edits. After fuming I looked at their changes and agreed with them. Yikes, what is the world coming to?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Peggy, I'm with you 100%. This whole thing bothers me on a molecular level. LOL And unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks as always, ChitrangadaSharan! We all have different reasons for being on HP, and those reasons will dictate how much we are willing to do to be acceptable by their standards.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Linda, and I like the continuity of having you visit each week. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's always interesting to read about your ideas and opinions, Bill. I'm glad you like the continuity of the Mailbag!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      18 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Lot of useful information in this mailbag!

      The question asked by Sally is quite relatable. So many changes have been made by HP lately that it has become an uphill task to revisit the hubs to suit their requirements. The latest one being , all capsules full width.

      This takes lot of time and the enthusiasm of writing is lessened by the time I want to start writing something new.

      I understand why your approach is different from others. It's not the question of earnings only but I do want my hubs to remain featured.

      Thanks for sharing another useful installment!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      18 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Regarding revising old hubs and the new changes...I am so busy at present! Unfortunately some of my photos if moved from the right column to a full page format look pixelated and from what they said, that will happen after the 90 days. With hundreds of hubs that is cutting into my time working on my own website.

      In my case it is not a matter of making money. It would bother me to think that the hubs would not appear pleasing to the eye. The artistry in me would rebel at that. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well MizB, first of all, congratulations on that retirement! Well-deserved, my friend. Thanks for the information and your thoughts on the MFA. I tend to agree with your points, as any wise man would.

      If you are like me, retirement does not look like retirement. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Rasma! I'll have to do some research on that one.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, that is so very sweet of you. Thank you very much.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm with you, John! Whatever happens, happens. I'm a writer, not a Google expert wannabe or SEO techie!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I am rather late getting to read this week's Mailbag, Bill, but then I am behind in all my reading at the moment. Better late than never though, as they say. Wonderful questions and answers once again. With the new policy of HP that they are only having full-width capsules they recommend we go back and revise all our old hubs. You have got to be kidding me...I have over 300 and you have mine will just have to endure whatever these changes do to them.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      18 months ago from The Caribbean

      I like your take on helpful education. There are so many lettered writers who obviously are not helped by their training. I love your goal of eternal legacy. You're my role model.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      18 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Another informative mailbag. Lately I have been please to note that quite a few of my poem are being sent to the niche site Letterpile. Now comes my question How much exposure does our work get in the niche sites?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      18 months ago from Beautiful South

      Hi Bill, as of last Friday at 4:30 pm I am officially retired, and I've just now on Tuesday found time to read your Monday mailbag. I hope life doesn't continue this busy!

      I would like to comment on Zulma’s question about an MFA and creativity. I say if a person desires an MFA, go for it and don’t worry about it stifling creativity. Here’s why I say that. My MA in journalism comprised several creative courses, including magazine writing, feature writing, loads of writing about events and even editorial writing. At the time I wasn’t considering creative fiction, so I didn’t include any of those as electives, but I did get in some speech and drama. I found that these encouraged creativity, and any structure that was included in the classes taught some discipline, which ALL writers can use. First learn how, then break the rules, I say. Somehow I see a MFA from the right school as a valuable asset, not a detriment. In my new retired state, I’m considering taking a class or two in play writing. I am old enough to attend the state university free, so why not?

      Oh, I gave up on revising my hubs. It wasn't worth my time.

      Glad we can be of service to you by reading your mailbags, my friend. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Larry! I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't understand what HP is up to, but it seems nitpicky to me, and I just don't have the time or desire to do it. I'm impressed that you have that kind of patience. Good for you. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      18 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks for all your good advice. I wish I could be like you and stop revising every time HP changes the rules. It's getting really annoying now because making a change, even fixing a typo, can result in a "review." And then HP may snip something. Then I have to go back and edit again because another part of my hub no longer makes sense because of their snip. I want to write new stuff and it is really annoying to have to spend a lot of time just to conform to new rules--like the latest one removing the half-size capsule. I used that a lot for sidebars.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      18 months ago from Oklahoma

      Always helpful and inspirational.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad I could help, Bill. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for your insights and thoughts, Venkatachari M. Very helpful when we all share our thoughts.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Zulma! The heatwave arrives today. Me, no chance of going back to school. I'm just not interested and besides, I have a craft to hone. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Ann! Writing isn't for everyone, and we can't all be good at the same thing.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, those pesky clients, Melissa! Don't they know you have something more important to do? LOL Happy Tuesday my friend, and thank you!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      18 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! Unfortunately my morning mail bag was rudely interrupted by some ornery clients...but better late than never! I can't imagine going through and updating old articles, much rather just move forward! Hope you have a fantastic week!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      18 months ago from SW England

      Meant to add about the writing qualification thing - there's nothing like life experience, sheer slog and a talent with words. If it's in you, nurture and practice; if it isn't then don't worry, you'll be good at something else! That's my purely personal point of view; just needed to make the point!

      (very late on a Monday eve.... :)


    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      18 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Bill, for your insight on education. The key is helpful and inspired education.

      When I first started writing I thought a creative writing course would be useful. Now I'm not so sure. I'm pretty solid when it comes to grammar (Catholic school education) and over the years I've developed my own way of putting my thoughts down in some semblance of order. I don't think I have what it takes to sit in a classroom anymore.

      Oh, and, yes, I was referring to Master in Fine Arts. Have a great week and try to stay cool.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, just let me say this: we are in the same boat, but we both have an ample supply of paddles, so no worries. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree with your approach, Flourish. If I wrote hubs like yours I would do the same.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      18 months ago from USA

      I constantly revise my hubs simply because of their nature. It also seems to help with views. That's just me. I like some level of pedictability like you.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      18 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very nice questions and great answers in this mailbag also. The question from Sally is a good timely asked one relating to the revision of articles according to the changes in rules and the decorum of HubPages.

      I have just revised two of my unfeatured articles today out of which one got featured and the other one still in QAP. But, I will go and check all the featured one also in near future and see that they satisfy the HP rules amended recently. I recommend it for all others who can afford to spend time. I think, in your case, it may not be possible with so many hubs and mostly they may be having the only one issue of right floated capsules in them.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      18 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Another fun and educational mailbag, Bill. Thanks for sending along the link! I'm on it.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      18 months ago from SW England

      Well I'm really looking forward to that, bill!

      Ann :D

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, this will be fun, Ann, since I'm going through the same thing. I'll tell you what I have decided regarding myself, and I'll let you draw parallels with your own situation if there are any.

      And a melodious Monday to you, as well.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great points, Mary, and I agree with all of them. I know some of those perpetual students and I wonder when they will ever hit the "start" button and get on with their dreams.

      Anyway, wishing you a wonderful week.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      18 months ago from Brazil

      Oh, you gave me a laugh! When you said you don't know where your novel is going until you're half way through, I had visions of your Oregon Trail party veering off down the trail to California.

      Interesting question about MFA. I think the western world is turning away from specialization and going more for 'the jack of all trades'. I read about many entrepreneurs who keep reinventing themselves, learning new things and advancing. Yet there are others who are in careers so specialized, they are almost unemployable. Robert Kiyosake author of Rich Dad Poor Dad highlighted this issue.

      I also think that some people prefer to stay students, permanently, instead of pursuing their dreams. It can be a good excuse as to why they haven't accomplished anything in their lives. I also believe that education, especially now, is available through many different avenues, not just sitting in a classroom.

      Have a wonderful week.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      18 months ago from SW England

      I understand what you mean by continuity though I don't need it as such. It's the feeling of satisfaction that a job is done regularly and gets better each time. I'm satisfied when I publish a new hub and I get restless if I haven't done one for a while.

      Having said that, I feel lately that my writing is slipping - I get the ideas but the 'umph' behind them doesn't seem to come through.

      So I have a question for you. Am I failing as a writer or is it that I can't see them through the eyes of another reader? I don't want reassuring, I want to know if you've experienced this and what you do about it. Continuity is not easy at the moment so I could use that as an excuse but I don't think that's it. It's not writer's block either as I have plenty of ideas. It's just the delivery. This is not fishing for praise either, in case anyone thinks so, as I know you tell it like it is! Sorry that's a bit of a ramble but, as I say, delivery is not my strong point right now!!

      Great mailbag; you always deliver and we don't even need any stamps!

      A melodious Monday to you, bill!

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Love you succinct responses, Heidi, every one of which I agree with. Thanks a bunch, stay cool, and have a great Monday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I couldn't agree more about triple digits, Linda! What a strange year for weather, my friend.

      Thank you and stay cool and healthy.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      18 months ago from Chicago Area


      Re: Revising Hubs. I don't actively revise my hubs either. However, I do have a pretty good idea of the topics I've covered. And when there's a development that impacts one of those topics, then I'll go back and tweak as needed.

      The only other time I'll go back to old hubs is to "recycle" them in current email marketing or blend them into a new book I'm writing.

      There's gold in the old. But you need to know what and why you're mining.

      Re: MFA. In my opinion, it only matters if you're trying to get a teaching gig. Otherwise, I'll pursue a "Marketing For Authors" education that could make me more dollars in the long run.

      Happy Monday and have a great week ahead!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I have no clue why continuity works that way, but I'm grateful I recognize it and use it to my advantage. Thanks for the question, buddy!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Why in the heck does day to day routine consistency keep our demons at bay but also allows our "non-routine" creativity thrive? Kind of like meditation it allows us to be free from body/mind thinking so we can, well.... be free. Or I reckon choose not to be.

      No question our brides give us the spontaneity to keep our hearts pumping. Interesting about an MFA.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      18 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I am always happy to see your mailbag on Monday. It's a good start the week and gives me a kick-start. Thank you for your advice and encouragement. I hope you and your poor little critters survive the week ahead. Triple digits belongs in Death Valley, not here.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, I saw early on a definite niche for you, and if you worked at it you would have dedicated followers. I'm happy I was correct.

      Thank you for stopping by. Peace be with you this fine Monday!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      18 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy, thank you for answering my question. In fact, I have edited many of my hubs to please HubPages and even today I was updating some which have not yet found their way to the niche sites. I think I am lucky that I figured out quite early on that I had a niche which would work for me and I have stuck with it. I now have a loyal following of Feltmakers throughout the world. However, I sometimes long to write some of the stuff which does not pay here:)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, with two young girls, if you are able to achieve continuity then you are Wonder Woman! LOL Thanks for being here...Happy Monday! 100 degrees here on Wednesday and Thursday. Just shoot me now.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      18 months ago from New York, New York

      I am so with you on continuity, Bill and trust me I need it here, as well. I thrive on it in all honesty. That said always happy to see your Mailbag here each and every Monday. So, appreciate all your help and advice here always. Happy Monday now, Bill and wishing you a wonderful week ahead, too :)


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