The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 187
Who Would Have Guessed?
Having a puppy is good for me!
Who’da thunk it?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, she wears me out at times. There are days I’m convinced I’m just too damned old to train a puppy, but those days are pretty few in number.
For the most part, Maggie is a joy, and she has forced me to get out and exercise by taking her on walks. We have two walks built into my schedule now (Bev works full-time away from home so this is my task) and each day I walk about five miles with my six-month old in tow . . . make that me in tow of the six-month old.
And on those walks I’m forced to stop and smell the roses of life, because Maggie is intent to sniff and smell everything within her reach, meaning our walks consist of a lot of erratic stops and starts. So I notice my surroundings on those walks. I observe life around me. And I meet people. Maggie, it turns out, is a babe magnet. LOL I joke that it’s too bad I didn’t have Maggie with me when I was twenty and I couldn’t buy a date. Seriously, women stop us all the time on our walks and ask if they can pet Maggie. I should be offended that they don’t stop to pet me but hey, I’ll take any attention I can get for whatever reason.
All of this is to say that a damned puppy has me outside, in the winter, in the rain, enjoying the hell out of life.
Thank you Maggie!
From Eric: “And as always a question, I hope your followers aren't turned off by my esotericness. (not a word they tell me hmm but has my given name in it) Sometimes I withdraw with my key board and writing. I mean I have at least 100 articles not published. Because they were just meant for me. Does that seem totally looney Tunes to you?”
Eric, if it’s totally Looney Tunes, then I’m as crazy as you.
After I received your question I went into my archives and counted the unpublished articles I have . . . 72! Some of them I would never say to another human being. Some of them are to my Republican friends, a venting of sorts which allows me to relieve my blood pressure without losing friends. And some of them are a journal of sorts with memories and some soul-searching which are just too personal to share.
So yep, I’m right along with you.
From Mary: “I have a question for a future mailbag. Brian mentions Grammarly as an aid. What are your thoughts on using this or other grammar checkers? Are they making writers lazy or more productive?”
Mary, you managed to make me think hard on this one. My gut reaction is not the response you’ll receive, but it’s a great question.
I don’t use Grammarly nor do I use any of those apps. For me, the reason for not using those apps is simply because I’m too old-fashioned to change my ways on this topic. Sister Mary Elizabeth did a pretty good job teaching me English many years ago, and I rely on her counsel even today.
I don’t really have anything against apps like that. I really don’t think they make writers lazy. I see them like any other tool to be used to better our craft. Having said that, I do think there is a large number of lazy writers out there who don’t want to do the work necessary to improve their craft. I think there are a lot of writers out there who are only interested in making some cash by writing content and really don’t care what trash they publish. And I think there are a lot of lazy writers who are self-publishing novels now which I wouldn’t feed to my son’s pigs. (This has nothing to do with Grammarly or other apps)
I’m on a roll now!
The internet is being flooded with crap in 2018, in my opinion. It is getting harder and harder to find quality writing, and what really disturbs me is that seems to be all right with the average reader. Our standards are lowering at an alarming rate. It’s like anything else in the consumer world. People flock to WalMart to buy a $25 cabinet made of particle board and glue. Meanwhile, a craftsman who makes remarkably detailed and beautiful cabinets, can’t make a living because people either can’t, or won’t, spend the money for quality.
So, anyway, Mary, I’ve got nothing against Grammarly. LOL
From Alisha: “Bill, I’m having a hard time connecting with my readers. I had an editor tell me that my writing lacks depth and emotion, like I was writing a recipe instead of a novel. While that review did hurt, it also made me take a close look at my work, and I found that editor to be correct. Since you are known for your ability to make emotional connections with your readers, I was hoping to learn your secret. Care to share?”
Alisha, I do care and I will share.
I’ll tell you what I was told fifty years ago. Put yourself in the place of your characters, and ask yourself how that situation would make you feel. Think of a similar situation you were involved with. What did you feel when it happened to you? If you can tap into those feelings and then relate them to your readers, using words, you will have hit the Mother Lode of Writing!
This is something far too many writers fail to realize or remember . . . we all share similar events in life. Almost all of us have lost loved ones. Many of us have suffered through other losses. Many of us have had a crisis of conscience. We have all experienced pain. We have all loved. We have all been ecstatically happy. These are the emotions you need to remember and tap into.
Writing should be emotional . . . even much of non-fiction . . . to be effective. I learned that lesson reading Bruce Catton’s historical fiction about the Civil War, and also by reading Leo Buscaglia’s books about love and living. Form a bond with your readers, with commonalities as the foundation, and you will build something special.
Advice for Hp
From Travis: “Hi, Bill, I’m new to HP and I was hoping to pick your brain for advice on how to make money on this site.”
Travis, the cynic in me wants to tell you to go somewhere else if you want to make money.
But I won’t do that. A serious question deserves a serious answer.
I do believe it is still possible to make decent supplemental income on HP. You have to follow the HP guidelines and suggestions in writing your articles i.e. 1250 words, three photos, two videos, etc . . . and you have to write articles which are SEO friendly. How-to articles are popular. Craft articles are popular. Making money articles are popular. Learn the SEO game, Travis, learn it well, and then start publishing. And then follow the advice of the bestselling book . . . Write, Publish, Repeat!
Time Is Up
Maggie wants to go for a walk, so that’s it for this Mailbag. Thanks for stopping by. It’s amazing to me that there are some of you who have read every single one of the 187 Mailbags. I thank you from the bottom of this old heart.
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”