The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 194
Someone Asked the Other Day
It caught me by surprise, truth be told. A casual friend asked me if I had written anything on my new book of late. I didn’t even know she knew I was a writer or that she much cared, so that was nice to hear.
I had to tell her no, no I haven’t, not in a couple months. Truth be told I’m too busy doing work for customers in my freelance business. I have what one might call an overabundance of riches right now with my freelancing business, and we need the money. In other words, I have too many customers. Add to that the increasing demands of our urban farm, and I simply don’t have the time to write creatively.
Now I gotta tell ya, I hate that excuse. It’s not that I don’t have the time to write on my new book; it’s that I haven’t allocated the time to do it. I could write during the evenings. I could drop a customer or two. I could probably squeeze an extra hour out of my weekends instead of always doing chores around our yard or out at the farm . . . but so far I haven’t chosen to do so. And it’s going to get worse in April when I spend Wednesdays at the farmers market.
The creative work is on hold and that’s just the real of it. Sooner, or later, I will return to it when I choose to do so. J
What I do choose to do, right now, is turn to the questions for this week. There were only three but this week, at least, quality wins out over quantity.
From Venkatachari M: “But, Bill, I could not understand the discussion regarding byline importance (the second question). What does it refer to? Can you explain more clearly?”
Venkatachari M, the byline refers to your name on the article, telling the world that it was you who wrote it. This is important in the publishing world. A certain number of bylines labels you as a professional writer of some quality. Now of course it depends on the publication. Some online magazine thrown together by an unknown in Topeka, Kansas, will not carry much weight in the publishing world, but if you have a byline from The New Yorker you are a writer with some serious credentials, or so the theory goes.
The more big-time bylines you have, the better your reputation in this industry.
And it’s as simple as that!
When Are We Ready
From Rodric: “Another informative hub. My question for you this time is when do you know if what you have written is ready for print? I think you answered this in one of your other Mail Bags, but I cannot locate it. I assume we can always improve on our writings, but I tend to feel the need to CONSTANTLY improve and never publish. I want to say it is because I am so used to being able to change my work on HubPages.”
Rodric, this is a common problem with many, many writers. Many of us are perfectionists with our work, and that simply means whatever we write will never match the lofty goals. A smaller sampling of writers do not have the confidence to publish because they are concerned with how their article or story will be viewed and judged by others. Still others lack the confidence to go public with their work.
At some point, my friend, you just have to say “TO HELL WITH IT” and pull the trigger. I don’t have some miracle drug for this. I don’t have some self-help guru I can refer you to for this problem. We do the best we can, we edit it a reasonable number of times, and then we hit the damned ‘PRINT” button. If it isn’t perfect, oh well! We’ll get closer to perfection with the next article or story we write. And if others are critical of your work, at least you had the guts to actually publish it, critics be damned!
From Genna: “I've read that the first-person style of writing is more often used by the younger generation these days. Do you think there is any credence to this? I've never tried first person, other than relaying a character's thoughts in italics. I'm trying to work up the courage. You write in both, and so easily.”
Genna, I had not heard that, although it doesn’t really surprise me all that much. The younger generation was raised on social media. Everything about social media is a first-person expression, or so it seems to me, so it only follows that their creative writings would be in first-person.
For myself, I would guess that probably 75% of my writing is in first person. I much prefer it because it gives me the freedom to philosophize through my characters, to point out opinions which quite often are my own. I don’t find that third-person allows me to do those things quite as easily or freely. I do switch to third-person when I want to show a brief glimpse of what another character is doing, and that is usually the antagonist in my thrillers. First person for my main character and then switch to the antagonist and third person; I also did this quite freely in “Resurrecting Tobias.” In that novel the main character was written in first person, but two other characters had their own chapters in third person. It’s trickier to do but it becomes easier with some practice.
Anyway, thank you for the kind, encouraging words. To answer your original question yes, I think there is some credence in that statement.
And That’s It for This Week
I can only answer what I’m asked, and I was only asked three questions, so we are now all free to go do something else with our time.
Thanks to you all for always being here. Your support means a great deal to me.
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”