The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 183
Happy New Year to You All
Before we begin, I want you to know I'm not getting notifications from HP about articles written, so if I'm missing your articles I apologize. I'm trying to get this resolved through HP.
Now let's begin!
I don’t make resolutions! Just thought I’d toss that out there. My entire life is goal-setting and seeking those goals, so it seems a bit silly for me to add on to that pile of goals. A guy has to sleep occasionally, you know.
Bev and I got each other Fitbits for Christmas. For those of you not familiar with that product, it’s this watch-thingie you wear, and it keeps track of your heartbeat, the number of steps you take, the calories you burn, that sort of thing. Now Bev and I are in a daily competition to see who can walk the most steps. She kicked my butt the first day. I kicked her butt the second, but it sure wreaked havoc on my writing. LOL The sacrifices we make to defeat another human being.
Now I’m working on balance.
It’s always something.
Anyway, I wish for you all a very Happy 2018. May it be your best year yet, filled with love and many moments of success.
Shall we begin?
From Eric: “Bill I would like to ask you about struggle. It seems to me that it is uncomfortable sometimes to write (granted I write mostly in a spiritual realm) And I am a happy loved filled guy for the most part. But sometimes while writing I get a very hard gut check. Joyful yet brutal near pain I suppose. Is it just me, or do you go there? Like your letter series. They bum me out yet lift my soul in admiration and appreciation. I do not do apathy well.”
Eric, occasionally I watch a TED Talks video featuring Elizabeth Gilbert, a best-selling author. I’ll include it so you can watch it if you like. Anyway, she talks about the creative genius in all writers, and the angst involved in most writers, and I can really relate to her talk. There is just something about the creative types. Call it empathy . . . call it being unbalanced . . . call it sensitivity . . . but the true Creatives I’ve met feel deeply and yes, they feel deeply when writing “heavy” works.
So yes, Eric, I feel it. I rarely write articles on political or social issues any longer. I use to write them two or three times each week, but it became too hard for me emotionally. I would find myself sitting at my desk crying in the middle of the day, or depressed for the remainder of the evening.
That’s not good! I already lean towards depression on my good days, so adding to that natural inclination is a silly thing to do. The same can be said for the novels I’ve written. My current series, the “Shadow” series, is filled with violence and an in-depth look at the underbelly of society. I’m currently taking a break from writing the current novel in that series because it was affecting me negatively.
I don’t have a solution for this problem. I don’t believe there is a pill to take to lessen the empathy we feel. I can only suggest what has worked for me . . . taking occasional breaks from the angst.
Q & a Retirement
From Sabine: “Bill, I see HP is retiring the Q & A portion of their website. What do you think of that?”
Amazingly nobody has ever asked me about the Q & A section of the forum section of HP. Thanks, Sabine!
Now, this is just my opinion. There’s no reason to jump down my throat about it. It really makes no difference whether you agree with me or not. It’s not going to change a damned thing.
I have never understood the purpose of the Q & A section or the Forum. This is a writing site. If the questions were all about writing, like this Mailbag series, I could understand, but more often than not the questions are about politics, or social issues, and for the life of me I don’t understand what any of that has to do with writing.
Besides, there are a lot of nasty people who hang out there, and I mean NASTY! I would rather spend my time with positive, loving people than with people who ooze negativity from their pores.
I am a writer! I don’t care what Brad thinks about the new federal budget, or what James thinks about pro life. I really don’t. I managed to get through the entire year of 2017 without once being concerned about the opinions of Brad or James, and I’m guessing I can make it through 2018 just as easily.
So, the departure of the Q & A Section? The sun will rise, the sun will set, and my life will go on.
From Barbara: “I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast. I already have a blog, and I write novels, but I thought a podcast would be a nice, related activity which would help me to make more money. What do you think?”
Barbara, your question makes me nervous for a couple of reasons.
You mentioned that the podcast would be a related activity, and you also mentioned making more money. So here are my concerns.
You are taking on a lot for a writer of novels. In my experience, writing a novel is time-consuming. I can’t write one in less than six months, and that is six months of determination and single-mindedness. Now toss in a blog . . .more time away from the novels . . . and then toss in a podcast . . . more time away from the novels . . .
See where I’m going with this? I’m worried you are in danger of watering down everything due to time constraints. I’m worried your quality will suffer in an attempt to add quantity, and that is a back-ass-wards way of thinking, as my grandma used to say.
The other word of advice I would give you is this: if you are going to do the podcast in addition to the blog in addition to the novels, make sure they are all related in some way. You are the one who mentioned money. If earning an income is important then all of your efforts need to be focused on one subject or topic or skill. Your name needs to be synonymous with one thing. I have a friend who bounces all around the place. Her book is fine, but then her blog is about something completely different, and now she has a podcast which is not related to anything at all, and she is scattered and frustrated . . . and my advice is to focus!
So, do the podcast if you can do it without detracting from your other efforts.
Made up Words
From Mary: “I have a question about using 'made up words'. Do you feel they are now more accepted since the use of technology has thrust many new words into the public domain? Also, would these be better off italicised to show an importance or to tell the reader, it wasn't an error?”
What a fascinating question, Mary!
Here are my thoughts on made-up words. We are writers. That means we create. Fictional writers create stories, so why not create words? Shakespeare did it, so why not you?
We actually use made-up words almost daily in our normal life. Microsoft is micro-computing and software, if I’m not mistaken. Brunch was a made-up word at one time, combining lunch and breakfast. I say go for it if it fits in your story.
As for italicizing, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I do think your made-up word needs to be clear and easily understood, and that is the job of the writer to do that. A writer of some skill can use a fabricated word and make it fit perfectly into a story . . . in other words, use real words to bring out a clear meaning of a made-up word.
Have fun! Create! That’s what we writers do.
What Do You Do If . . . ?
From Lawrence: “What do you do, when you know you've done a good job, but feel it could be better, yet aren't totally sure what needs to change?”
Holy cow, Lawrence, talk about tap into the vein of frustration. LOL
It happens to me in every novel. I have yet to write a novel or novella that I didn’t think could improve, but honestly that’s just me being me. I will never write as well as I think I should. What do I do? I publish the damned thing and move on with my life. What should other people do? Set it aside and give it time. Eventually, if you are normal and not like me, the answer will come … or have a friend read it over, but I have found it is hard to have friends be objective . . . so good luck!
Again, Happy New Year
Bev and I will probably be in bed by eleven on New Year’s Eve. Such is life for the aging. LOL My Fitbit will record how long I sleep and what kind of sleep it is.
Anyway, I’m excited about 2018 and really, why wouldn’t I be? I’m healthy. I have the greatest wife in the world. I’m doing something I actually love doing, and getting paid for it. I’m rolling in clover, my friends.
And that’s what I wish for you . . . your very own field of clover to roll in!
Happy New Year!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”