The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 173
Last Full Week of October
And the leaves are falling . . . and the rains are falling . . . and the temperature is falling . . . a whole lot of gravity happening as we approach November! I know, I know, falling temperatures have nothing to do with gravity, but I thought it sounded clever, so there you go.
Someone asked me recently if I ever run out of ideas. The answer is no! Sometimes my ideas fall like a thunderstorm, a furious torrent of rain, and other times they fall like a gentle shower, almost like a mist, but they do keep falling, and my job is to trust in the process and allow them to fall at their own rate. I already know I’m creative, so there is no reason to panic and try to rush the process. It will happen when it happens and not a moment before.
One plug for yours truly . . . I published my new novel in the “Shadow” series, this one called “Shadows Fall On Rosarito,” and it is available in paperback and as an ebook through Amazon.
And now, on to the Mailbag!
Advice for New Food Series
From Flourish: “I wanted to encourage everyone to stop by and read the new weekly cooking and food Q&A column by Linda Lum (Carb Diva). Maybe offer some specific advice and encouragement on how to ensure success ... ?”
And I want to also encourage people to visit Linda’s food question and answer series here on HubPages. You can find the second installment by following this link. Linda also has a blog called The Creative Corner filled with great ideas for artsy-crafty people. Check her out and thank you, Flourish, for the suggestion.
As for offering specific advice and encouragement on how to ensure success, I’ve been doing this for over seven years now, and I’ve had some fair success, and my number one word of advice, in case anyone is interesting, is to do everything in this business with determined hard work. There are no shortcuts to success in writing. You have to slowly build your platform, build your audience, and continue to kick out quality work.
The Writing Bible according to Bill Holland!
The Joy of the Journey
From Eric: “And so I ask you. Is your journey of writing better than getting finished? Sometimes I kind of fall in love with writing. And so it is almost like an empty nest syndrome when I am done. Do you get that feeling?”
I get that feeling, Eric, after every book is completed. I actually just posted on Facebook that I love the process. I am thrilled when I start a new book because I can feel the creativity flowing through me, like heroin to a junkie, or that first sip of 30-year old malt to an alcoholic. It is a serious high for this guy, and that high comes crashing down when the book is completed. That’s why I rush right back into the process and begin a new book as soon as possible. I’m a junkie at heart and I’m always looking for my next fix.
Photos and Hp
From Tamara: “On my Song Lyrics that have had the honor of being sent to Letterpile, HP keeps removing the photo I add to these Song Lyrics posts, and using their own generic photos. I have used high-resolution photos that I had thought were on the subject of my Song Lyrics, but even as I keep trying different photos to see if they will accept them, they continue to snip them out, and replaced with their standard photos. So, my posts have no Featured Photo. There have been about nine posts of Song Lyrics that have gone to Letterpile in which they have removed my featured photo to replace with their own. (LOL). Do you know why this would be?”
I’ve got two words for you, Tamara, and these two words are always my answer to HP related questions: Christy Kirwan! She is pretty good about getting back to you about HP questions, so drop her a note. Anything I would say would be supposition. I gave up trying to understand how HP works about six years ago, and I’ve made no attempt during that time to learn. They frustrate me and I’m sure I frustrate them, and that’s just the way it’s going to be going into the future.
The Beginning of the Mailbag
From Nancy: “Hi! I remember when you started this series, and congratulate you on your success with it. How did it begin? Do people email you through Hubpages, or send actual letters by mail?”
Hi, Nancy, and thanks for a look back. How did the Mailbag begin? It was just a whim; nothing more, nothing less. Some people had emailed questions to me that first week, and rather than writing individual responses I decided that we could all learn from those questions and answers. To my surprise that first Mailbag had a great reception, and there were requests to keep it going, and so I did. And here we are, 172 weeks later.
The questions are asked via email (email@example.com) and in the comment section of each Mailbag.
And that’s how it’s been done in the past and how it’s done today!
Getting Into Your Character and More on Location
From Anusha: “I am more curious than before though. Do you think a person who is too gentle should not consider himself or herself fit for this job? I mean, strength and control on one's psyche during the creation of such perverts would be a must? Does meditation help? There was a discussion about the importance of location in the Mailbag too. Does location also help with the creation of villain?”
Thank you Anusha! For the audience, this is a continuation of a discussion Anusha and I had recently about creating villains and how difficult it is to do . . . and what effect that kind of “darkness” has on the psyche of the writer.
I think a truly gentle person would have a very hard time creating a fictional “monster.” I know my wife would never be able to do it. It would just be too disturbing for her. I also think there has to be a certain amount of “darkness” in a writer’s soul to create a disturbing character. Somewhere in their past they had to either encounter darkness or be the instrument of darkness. I’m talking about a Hannibal Lecter-type character . . . that type of darkness is very hard to create without some sort of “inspiration.” I’m sure there are those who would disagree with my opinion and that’s fine. I never claimed to be the All-Seer!
As for location in the creation of a villain, my personal opinion is I can create a villain in the middle of a forest, in a crowded city, or in a suburban village. I can create a villain in an orphanage, a hospital, or a retirement home, so for me, the location does not aid in the creation of the villain/monster . . . but . . . I think a carefully-chosen location can add to the creepiness of the story and the creepiness of the villain. Having a psychotic villain roaming through an orphanage is, to me, scarier than having that same villain roaming the streets of New York.
Does that make sense? That’s why I’ve always considered Ted Bundy to be the scariest of the scary . . . he was so normal . . . his location was so mundane . . . and his murders so horrific . . . the combination of those three things made him truly horrifying.
Disclosure or No Disclosure?, That Is the Question
From Bill: “Bill, just a question maybe for the mailbag. I have an idea for a short story that involves an old man reflecting on his life. There's a sad mood about it. Just asking your opinion. Would the story be best if the reason for the sadness was left untold allowing the readers to draw their own conclusion, or would the readers feel cheated because the story was left undone? Thanks in advance.”
Bill, this really is an interesting question, one I’ve faced in the past. It really comes down to preference and talent. In the scenario you outlined, my preference would be to leave the reason for the sadness left untold, but leave enough clues which will allow the readers to draw a number of conclusions on their own. I’ve seen this done masterfully by other authors and I think it not only adds intrigue to a story but also adds great depth.
Again, though, that’s just my preference and the reasons for it.
The Falling Leaves Drift by My Window
That was one of the first songs I learned, “Autumn Leaves,” when I started taking organ lessons as a young teen. I played it many times at church recitals. Talk about a horror scene! LOL
If you want to meet a true villain . . . Evil himself . . . check out my new novel
Thanks for the question. I hope you found the answers satisfying.
Hopefully I’ll see all of you next week.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”