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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 184

Updated on January 8, 2018

Hit the Ground Running

I, for one, am happy to see the holidays come to an end. They wreak havoc on my daily schedule, and since I’m a creature of habit it was a long month to endure.

So I’m happy. I’m back in my writing groove with renewed energy and a slight shift in direction.

Yes, the Mailbag will continue. The shift I mentioned has more to do with my creative efforts. I think I’ll go back to more reflective pieces when writing for HP, instead of the short stories I’ve been doing. This is a genre I made my bones with when I first started at HP, and I miss doing those reflective pieces.

I also think the novel I’m working on now, “The Magician’s Shadow,” will be the last of the Shadow series for awhile. I’ve grown tired of killing people, and I have a couple other novels I really want to write, so I’ll have Eli Baker and his killing group of friends take a break while I work on a couple books which are much more reflective and introspective.

So that’s where I am. With any luck, I’ll live long enough to see it happen.

Let’s see what we have in the Mailbag.

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

Guilt for Writing

From Dennis: “I do have a question for you. Do you ever feel guilty spending time writing when you know there are several other activities that need attention? I find this happens to me quite often and end up quite conflicted.”

Yes, Eric, often as a matter of fact, or I should say I did feel it until I made a conscious decision to shorten my workday. Up until last year, my writing day stretched from 6:30 2:00 p.m. The guilt was eating me up because I have many more interests which also need my attention, and I was doing a poor job with those interests. So now I work from 6:30 to 11:30 on writing, and then turn my attention to our critters, our urban farm, and other things like the farmers market . . . and, oh yeah, family!

It is working for me so far, so we’ll see how it goes in 2018. All I know for sure right now is the guilt is gone.

Good luck to you, and thanks for the question.

Hp Notifications

From Dana: “Hey, Bill, I see that HP is back to normal and we are all getting our notifications again. What did you do to get them working on that problem?”

LOL…what did I do, Dana? I don’t know how much influence you think I have with the HP management, but I can assure you it is close to zero. I simply sent an email to the staff and told them there was a problem in River City. Evidently quite a few people wrote to them, and forums were started, and finally they figured out the glitch and solved the problem.

I had zippidy-do-dah to do with it all, but thanks for elevating me in importance for a brief while.

Switching Genres

From Bob: “I had this weird idea, Bill, of writing a novel which includes several genres, like Part One would be a western, Part Two a science fiction, and Part Three a mystery, and they would all connect in the end. Do you think that’s even possible, and should I give it a go?”

Bob, honestly, no smoke being blown at all here, I think that is one of the most original and intriguing ideas I have heard in a very long time. Is it possible to switch genres mid-book? In the hands of a talented writer, anything is possible. Do I think you should give it a go? If you don’t I will. Seriously, YES you should give it a go! If you pull it off it would be so cool, and I think it would have great appeal to many publishers out there.

Maybe that’s been done before in literature, Bob, but I’ve never seen it or heard of it. I know many authors who have switched genres from one book to another. I know of many books which could be described as multi-genre in nature, but I know of no novels which deliberately separated sections of the book into different and diverse genres like you described. The concept alone has me excited. I sure hope you try it. Stay in touch and let me know how it goes, please.

Telling the Truth

From Francis: “Bill, what do you think about telling the truth in novels? Does the writer have a responsibility to be honest in his/her writings?”

Francis, the question is a bit confusing. A novelist….a writer of fiction….has no responsibility to be honest at all. He/she is the creator of fiction, which by definition is make-believe.

The author of a non-fiction book has, in my opinion, an implied responsibility to be honest.

The writer of a historical fiction has a 50% responsibility to be honest . . . the 50% which is historical!

But then we enter into the snake pit.

Honesty is always skewered by our point of view, isn’t it? I can see an event and relate that event to you, but my reporting of that event might be a bit different from the retelling of that same event by another person. We are both being honest, but the story comes out differently. Watch network news stations for confirmation of this.

It’s a bit of a sticky wicket, isn’t it?

Read history books written 100 years ago for our education system, and then read history books written last year about the same historical events. I think you are going to see quite a bit of difference in the way historical events are/were viewed. Were the authors of those books being honest? I think, for the most part yes, they were, but their research and viewpoints were colored and lacking, possibly in both instances.

So, telling the truth . . . walk softly and carry a big stick!

A fiction writer? Honest? Truth?

I write fiction!  Don't expect me to be truthful.
I write fiction! Don't expect me to be truthful. | Source

Blog or Hp?

From Sydney: “Which will make me more money, writing every day on HP, or monetizing my blog and writing every day on the blog?

Oh boy!

Another sticky wicket!

The answer I’m about to give is simply my opinion. I do not believe there are any reliable studies which can definitively give a monetary answer to this question, so you’re stuck with my opinion.

And my opinion might surprise a few of my friends on HP.

Given the scenario you just stated (and I know Sydney is talking about a licensed realtor writing articles about real estate) I believe she is better off concentrating on HP if she is looking to make money quickly. Writing keyword-rich articles on HP about a popular topic like real estate should start generating a supplemental income on HP in six months, and a steady income from that point forward. I’m not sure the same can be said about a blog. The problem with monetizing a blog is gaining a loyal following on that blog, and it takes longer than six months to establish a blog audience of any considerable size.

From a business standpoint, I think a combination of both is needed. I know Sydney wants this to be just a part of her freelance writing business, concentrating solely on writing content articles for real estate companies, and in that scenario a professional website with a blog is just good business, but Sydney’s question asks which can generate income quickly, so that’s my convoluted answer and the reasoning for it.

Hp Being Sold

From Bertra: “The big news is HP being sold to Maven. What do you think about it all, Bill?”

I just happened to stumble upon that new, Bertra, and I read the lengthy discussion about it on the forums. Honestly, I don’t care. I joined HP to join a community of writers and not to make money. As long as the community stays together, I’m a happy camper. I know quite a few people are upset by this news, or at least unsettled a bit, but I truly don’t care. I may affect the money I make; it may not. I guess we’ll see. I’m just a writer, Bertra. I leave those weighty, important matters to someone else.

Big news about HP being sold, I guess!
Big news about HP being sold, I guess! | Source

Another One Tucked Away

I always enjoy the turning of the calendar to a New Year. It is a time of revitalization for me. It is a time for reflection and adjustments . . . new goals . . . new challenges.

I wish, for all of you, a breath of new life in your writing endeavors and in life itself. Life is to be lived with gusto. Never become complacent with this gift we’ve been given.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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