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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


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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