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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 192

Updated on March 5, 2018

Spring Is Busting Out

This really is a hectic time for me. I’ve got about two-hundred newborn birds to take care of. I need to do my duties as the President of the Board of Directors for the local farmers market. I need to prepare the garden for planting, and do this, and do that, and somewhere in there I need to run my freelance writing business and make money to pay for everything else.

I’m feeling it right now and draggin’ butt!

But it’s an exciting time too! I love it as the weather slowly improves. I love watching the birds grow and planning for the market season, and I love making money doing something I am passionate about.

I’m a lucky man!

Let’s do this! We are approaching #200 and that is unbelievable to me.

Welcome to the Mail Room, where magic happens!
Welcome to the Mail Room, where magic happens! | Source

Outside Influence

From Dora: “Bill, it seems that you had a really full mailbag this week, and I learned from all the answers, especially the one to Kari's question. I have an ending in mind for my Caribbean Story, but I'm feeling a pull that I did not anticipate. This may be a question for the next mailbag. "Should I allow the readers' comments to influence the direction and the end of my story?" Thanks”.

Dora, there are no rules in creative writing. You should do whatever you feel like doing regarding the ending but . . . and I’m serious about this . . . in the end, you have to be satisfied with your story and nobody else. The ending should be the ending you are happy with. If that coincides with the comments of your readers then fantastic; if not, twenty years from now, when you are re-reading that story, you will still be able to smile when it ends because you did it your way.

The fickleness of our audience will change from day to day; our muse will remain the same and always be with us. Write for the muse; if it’s good writing the audience will follow.

My work is valuable and I won't work for less than I am worth.
My work is valuable and I won't work for less than I am worth. | Source

Requests for Your Work

From Flourish: “I'm getting some requests regarding my writing, too. I don't know what to think of some of them. I've recently been contacted by a producer of fudge who wants to use one of my humor articles in exchange for free product. My inclination is to decline and invite them to link all they want to the article ... as well as to send me the free fudge. I'm worried that if the article were used otherwise, even if it's just a "teaser" paragraph followed by the link to my HP article, that it would be tagged as a copy of my original article. Also, my teen daughter urges me only to deal in cold, hard cash. So what do you think? Have you ever gotten unusual requests?”

Flourish, I take a rather hard line on this topic. Yes, I have received quite a few unusual requests, and I’ve turned them all down. I’m with your daughter on this one. SHOW ME THE MONEY! I have worked a great many hours to get to this point, and many of those hours were spent with no payment coming in at all. Now that I am an established freelance writer, and creative writer, I don’t feel like giving away any of my work, or trading any of it for fudge.

Money or byline or both…that’s my mantra! Having said that, if the American Cancer Society asked me to donate an article for a telethon, I’d probably do that, but it had better be a real good reason. My time is valuable and I’ve paid my dues, thank you very much.

2nd Person

From MizB: “I remembered your discussion on writing in second person a couple of maibags back when I ran into the very problem. I was sailing along just now working on the book I'm editing and doing some rewriting for my relative when I came to a couple of paragraphs in which he had switched into the second person. He has done that a couple of times previously, and I've been able to successfully rewrite to the 3rd person. However, this time I can, but I wonder if I should. He goes into a description of how ventriloquism is done: You do this.... You do that.... I see the relevance of this lesson in the book because he is explaining the ways that Houdini told a family member how a seance can be faked. Houdini, by the way, was a friend of this person, so it's all relative -- pun intended. Shall I treat it as a description and convert the paragraphs to third person, or leave it looking like a lesson in ventriloquism? I'm not sure which way looks more professional. What would you do with this? Hope you can answer this Monday. Thanks in advance. I really appreciate your helping us with those decisions in which we need a second opinion. Keep warm, my friend.”

Hey, MizB, interesting question and dilemma . . . how weird that you came across this shortly after our Mailbag discussion.

Honestly, friend, what I’m going to give you is just my gut reaction and opinion. I see nothing wrong, in that particular case, with leaving it in 2nd Person. In fact, to my “ears,” it sounds right to do so. I really can’t give you a definitive reason for that opinion other than it sounds more authentic by using 2nd Person for that section.

You are certainly standing on solid ground if you change it all to 3rd Person, but I just think 2nd works better in this case.

I’m not sure that helps, MizB, but that’s what I’ve got for you.

1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person...we have decisions to make as writers. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses.
1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person...we have decisions to make as writers. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. | Source

FIVERR

From Melissa: “Bill, what do you think of Fiverr for writers to make some money? Is that something I should consider?”

Melissa, opinions about Fiverr are all over the board of public opinion. Yes, you can make money on Fiverr. I know a couple writers who make a few hundred bucks a month writing on Fiverr. Others find it insulting to write, say, a blog post for some company for five bucks. I would be included in that group. But there are many types of commercial writing, like writing catchy phrases for greeting cards, or one-sentence product descriptions.

What I’m saying is that, in my opinion, it depends how much work you have to do for that five bucks. I’m not willing to do too much work for a five spot, but you might be different, in which case I say “go for it!” If you need the dough then join the Fiverr show!

And With That I Bid You Adieu

Thanks so much for joining me again this week. I hope you know how much you are all appreciated. It blows me away that a few of you have been here for all 192 installments. That is true loyalty and I am very, very grateful.

Have a fantastic week of writing and living. May the spirits of Hemingway, Blake, Bronte and Steinbeck breathe new life into your creative minds.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lawrence! I actually do make money writing for customers...barely anything on HP, but that's okay. I love HP anyway because of people like you.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      8 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Some great advice here. I used to write for some sites, and you'll make a little money, but to make serious money you'll have to put in long hours.

      I've learned that for me, writing needs to stay 'a hobby' and if I can make a little money with it as well, that's awesome!

      I found the story about Houdini really interesting, and I think keeping it in the 'second person' would add 'flavour' to the book.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! It was an interesting question on Dora's part, one I think we can all relate to.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for this installment with plenty of useful tips. Somehow I thought I had already commented on this one but I guess not. I liked the question Dora posed regarding the sway of comments. That is a good question and a great answer.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Jo! I'm always willing to help friends, but I won't do work for nothing for a company with more money than I'll ever see.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      9 months ago from Tennessee

      Another great mailbag!! I agree with you that you have 'paid your dues'.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is my pleasure, Kari! Thanks so much for being here.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 months ago from Ohio

      Bill, I love reading your Mailbags. I learn and I learn. Some lessons I need immediately and some I store away for the day I will need them. Thanks for all the dedication you put into writing this for us every week. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Nithya! Thank you!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      9 months ago from Dubai

      Interesting questions and answers. Money matters and being paid in cash is the best reward. Thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      God bless you always, Nikki! And thank you!

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      9 months ago from London

      Thanks for another wonderful episode of mailbag Bill, questions and answers are very interesting, got to know about fiverr.Totally agree with FlourishAnyway’s daughter on hub sharing and with your answer to her question.

      God bless you always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Linda! It's been a very rewarding journey for sure.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks Frank! I see no reason to sugarcoat answers...we are all friends and honesty is called for.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, thank you as always. Regarding that photo I'm not sure I understand what you are asking. Clarification, please!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, I can always count on you for clarification. Thank you sir!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The questions are very interesting this week, Bill. Thanks for sharing the questions and your answers.

      Only eight more mailbag installments to go until your reach 200! It's going to be a great anniversary.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      9 months ago from Shelton

      I really agree with your answer to Flourish .. show me the money... you are indeed a true rare breed when it comes to honesty in your replies.. kudos my friend

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      9 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Your replies regarding first two questions are very interesting and useful. Your advice to stick to the writer's own conscience and satisfaction instead of flowing by readers' opinions is a good suggestion.

      Now, regarding the second question about tone of the writer, I accept your tips. I am wondering at the image chosen by you for it. You arranged those people before clicking that photo (1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person)?

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      9 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      The imperative grammatical mood or mode is usually and normally in the second person, with the "you" absent and understood. It is used to give instructions. "Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix well." "Insert tab A into tab B." "Watch your head."

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rasma! I try to always have a good week, and the same to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is my pleasure, Dora! thank you

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was going to say, Bill, where are you going to find the time? Glad you are here, buddy! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great help, John! Thanks for sharing all that. That is very helpful, buddy! Sounds like you've got it all figured out.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, those rung rays have a tendency to derail our best plans.Best wishes my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Mary, you filled up the next Mailbag all by yourself. Thanks so much for the questions, my friend. I'll get on them soon.

      Enjoy this first week of March!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, I do it because I love it, and quite frankly, staying busy keeps me from drinking...it's all good!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, you make me laugh. Glad I could support your laziness! LOL As for your weather, you are cruel even mentioning it. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathy, that muse of yours just needs a vacation. Be patient, my friend. It happens to us all.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky, I hear you about the physical limitations. I have been lucky, but even I have a hard time getting up all the time,and these old bones creak more often than not. Thanks so much for being here.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to help, Flourish! Luckily, quail do not require a lot of land.:) As for your daughter....I like her attitude!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      9 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for some more awesome tips. Hope you have a great week.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, thanks for your very sensible answer to my question and to all the others. I continue to learn from you.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

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

      Hello Bill - Happy Monday mailbag. Good to see he questions and answers still rolling in.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      9 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Great job with the mailbag this week. Hard to believe you are closing in on 200. I don’t think I’ve heard of Fiverr? Will have to check it out although I really don’t have the time for another site. Have a great week.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Great mailbag, Bill. I was particularly interested in Flourish's question and your answer. As I make most of my money from Fiverr I may be able to help a little with the question about it. $5.00 is now just the base unit of currency there. It is up to the seller to stipulate what they will provide for $5.00. For me, I write up to 100 words for $5.00 but hat also depends on the degree of difficulty and if there is any research involved. You can now create custom offers and you state how much you will do a "gig" for up to $1000.

      Some people have heard that you get everything for $5.00 well they get disappointed when they get knocked back. My average selling price for one poem is $14US. I do get customers who only want a 25 word poem and I still get $5.00 for that, so I have no complaints.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      9 months ago from Oklahoma

      You're better at budgetting your passions than me.

      These rug rays crawling around, I'm lucky to get one thing done a day:-)

      I am enjoying the improved weather, though.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      9 months ago from Brazil

      Bill, you should forget selling your eggs at the market and bottle your secret formula for getting everything done. It'd be worth a fortune to people! LOL

      As always, fascinating questions and answers.

      I don't know if this has been asked before but why is a byline in a publish article given more credibility than an online byline? (Stop laughing), I'm not referring to a flaky personal blog but an online site with clout.

      With HP raising its standards, do you feel that having articles on their niche sites will, in time, give authors a portfolio that will give them leverage in the traditionally published arena?

      One last question, do you think that traditionally published print magazines are a thing of the past, much as we are seeing independent movies, recording artists, and self published authors succeeding in a once closed system?

      Have a wonderful week.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      9 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Well damn it! I accidentally removed my own comment! Drat! What I said was, Mz. B. you aren't kidding. Every time I even imagine Bill's schedule, I need to take a nap! God love him.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      9 months ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, 200 baby chicks! We can barely take care of the one little pullet we have left. (An animal carried off the other four, and we finally trapped and carried off the offending animal, a possum.) You are one busy man who makes me feel like a sloth! Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I think I will leave it in 2nd person because it will make the author happy, and I didn't want to take the trouble to rewrite it in the first place. I was looking for a second opinion to back up my laziness. Thank you my friend, 73 degrees and sunshine here today and I'm stuck in the house. Have a good rest of your busy week!

    • KatWin profile image

      Kathy Burton 

      9 months ago from Florida

      Happy Monday Bill!

      I enjoyed this episode of The Mailbag. I learned something new. I have never heard of Fiverr. And, byline or money--I got it. Now, if I just could get my writing muse to come back...

      Kathy

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      9 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      I enjoyed this very much. I always learn something from these great articles about writing. I feel for you, having so much to do. I am trying to get 2 new raised garden beds set up. I want to plant a veggie garden in my yard. I figure 2 new beds a year is a good way to get it where I want it, without too much work or expense all at once. I told my kids I wanted gift certificates for my birthday, at Lowes or Home Depot, for getting the dirt and supplements.

      I am getting old enough that I have problems getting back up when I kneel down to weed. I got a tractor seat on wheels to help with this and it is working with the roses. I live in the desert, and need to set up automatic watering, because I forget to water every day. Too many years of living where it rains every day, lol. I do enjoy living where the air is easier to breathe, because it is not pure liquid. I really hate humidity with a passion.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      9 months ago from USA

      200 chicks? Are you factory farming on your postage stamp of an urban farm? Kidding.

      Anyway, thanks for answering my question, Bill. I'm not about to give my writing away for fudge or anything else, but it was fun entertaining the prospect. You and my daughter have similar mindsets: if the bank don't take it, then neither should I. Writing is not a hobby for me; it's what I use to pay my bills. Besides, it would've really cramped my style with that whole veganism thing and all.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Chitrangada Sharan. I stay busy to stay healthy. It's as simple as that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      True enough, Shannon. I like it the way it is; can you imagine how many comments I would have to answer if this were syndicated? I'd be a crazy man!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh God, Melissa, I'm so sorry. Here's hoping that snow melts quickly and you can finally enjoy some warm sunshine.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions, Heidi, but I expect nothing less. I have never used Fiverr...maybe one day, although I have more than enough work right now.

      Spring is here...thank God!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      9 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Your opening paragraph is so impressive! You are a person with so many talents.

      Enjoyed going through this installment as well. Good questions and helpful answers.

      Thanks for sharing this engaging series!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      9 months ago from Texas

      Don't you know people will still be here for installment 200 and beyond? You should totally have this series syndicated the world over.... Except then you'd be in trouble for duplicates. LOL

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      9 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! Glad spring is coming your way. As I type this, we went from the 50's this weekend to supposedly bracing for a foot of snow today (they even canceled schools ahead of the storm). The only good news about spring storms is that the snow doesn't last long...Have a great and productive week!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      9 months ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Monday!

      Re: Fudge or Finances? I'm with you (and Flourish's daughter). Show me the money!

      Re: Fiverr. I sell my editing services on Fiverr. And, no, I don't work for $5. Services are usually sold as multiples of $5, although I've seen some crazy, uninitiated, folks offering services for a flat $5.

      I'm not there to devalue my work or as a desperate move. Rather, I'm there because the system of project tracking and communication is great. Plus, I appreciate being in a larger marketplace for these services than my own website could draw.

      That being said, take time to think about how to price and present your services (the more narrow the appeal of your service, the better) so you don't get a bunch of strange, low paying gig requests you don't want (cancellations can hurt your rating). In my entire time there, I've only had to decline two projects, and it was because these people didn't read my service description.

      Have a great week! Looks like we might get some messy weather here in Chicago later today... but nothing like a nor'easter!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! This is where the cool kids hang out and I always wanted to be cool. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Recover well my friend. Best wishes, Manatita, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do think we see much more of it in fiction, Tim! I'll touch on that more in next week's Mailbag. Thank you sir!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is my pleasure, Mary! I get to hang out with great people like you every week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Kristen! Thanks for your opinion.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A great way for sure, Janine! I wouldn't have it any other way, my friend. Thank you!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I'm thankful that in the midst of all that you have on your plate, you still take the time to instruct us. Thanks dear friend. You are appreciated.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      9 months ago from london

      Ah... it feels short this week. Perhaps it's because of all those chores waiting for you. Love to Beverley. Recovering from the Flu. Peace!!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      9 months ago from Escondido, CA

      I appreciate the advice on mixing 'person' with writing. I remember reading back awhile about it in your Mailbag. Do you think that question applies more to fiction than informational? I confess that is something I don't pay attention to and realize I should. I imagine those QAP readers do pay attention.

      Thanks for another great Mailbag! Hoping spring arrives with the time change.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Looks like Spring has come and you're into it in a big way but also able to still do a mailbag. This is the key to the 192 and I'm really happy you keep it going as I learn so much from these. It is like am being in a writing class.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      9 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag as always, Bill. You're a busy man with a full plate on your hands. I've heard mixed reviews on Fiver and stayed away from it. I rather make more than five bucks for any freelance job (even for Upwork.)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      9 months ago from New York, New York

      Sounds like you are indeed busy, but in a great way totally. Just had to stop in and wish you the best Monday and week ahead now, my friend :)

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