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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 195

Updated on March 26, 2018

March 22nd? Really?

Is it the fact that I’m old? I swear, time is speeding up. I know that defies all laws of physics, but I just looked at the date and I would have bet it was March 5th or 6th, not the 22nd. How am I supposed to meet all these deadlines I have imposed upon myself when time is breaking speed records?

That’s how it feels sometimes inside my head. I am constantly chasing deadlines and constantly falling just short of them. Mind you, nothing of any importance will happen if I don’t meet those deadlines, other than the fact that I will feel like I let myself down. I had a mentor tell me once that the most dangerous real estate in the world is located between my ears.


Shall we get started while we still have time? LOL

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


From Kristen: “Great mailbag as always Bill. Short, sweet and simple--straight to the point. I have a question to ask you. Do you ever suffer from Too Many Ideas Syndrome (aka TMI for short)? And what do you do if you have new burning story ideas in your head?”

Kristen, see the section just before this question for your answer. My mind is swimming in too many ideas, and when it gets bored swimming in writing ideas it switches over to farming ideas. This is my life!

What do I do with them? Seriously, I start a new Word Doc for each new idea. I give the Word Doc a title and I write one or two sentences on it to remind me what the idea was, and then I save the document and put it in my Ideas file for later review. This system actually works for me. The trick, again, is in finding the time to go back to that file.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

From Eric: “Hey Bill, do you think your time away from the writing and just being out in life will improve your writing? For me it always seems to. The more vigorous life leads to a fresher mind at the keyboard. How about you?”

Thanks Eric and yes, it always has for me.

I’m in that period right now where I simply don’t have the time to write creatively. I am so busy with customers and with urban farming that I don’t write anything in the creative realm, but man alive is my mind ever preparing for the day when I can once again create characters and weave plot lines. Oddly I don’t have to write any of these observances down; they go into some brain file and stay there until I can retrieve them. Something happened just the other day that went into the file, and the file heading is USE THIS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It will be there when I need it.

This sort of stuff dominates my life right now.
This sort of stuff dominates my life right now. | Source

Best Platform

From Shaloo: “Thanks for another informative mailbag! I have a question. I don't know if it has been asked before. Which platform is better for publishing ebooks- amazon or smashwords?”

Shaloo I wish I could give you an informed opinion, but I can’t. I have no experience with Smashwords. All of my self-publishing has been done through Amazon and I’m satisfied with them for the most part. I find Amazon easy to use, and there is no doubt their distribution network is Primo! I don’t particularly trust them but for now they meet my needs. Perhaps one of my readers will be able to weigh in on Smashwords and share with us their experience.

Weather or Not Lol

From Ann: “Does the weather affect your writing? I find that dull days can make me a little depressed; sometimes they allow me to write instead of going out, other times they just drag any energy and sense from me and I can't get any ideas written down at all. The sunshine boosts me no end but then I want to go out rather than sit indoors and write. So what about you?”

Just the opposite of you, Ann! Sunny days are always calling me to go outside and do chores around the farm. My concentration level is at its lowest on warm, beautiful days. On the rainy, blustery days, I am full-speed ahead with my writing and will, in fact, extend my writing day. It is also perfect weather for my type of novel writing, the thriller/killer/suspense genre. It puts me in a dark mood, and a dark mood means someone is going to die soon. LOL

Someone will die on a day like this!
Someone will die on a day like this! | Source

Editing and No Money

From Rodric: “Next question: When submitting a manuscript for the final draft, is it better to pay for editing or try to do it? See, money is always an issue. I figure if I have a problem with my spelling or grammar I can blame an editor. I, however, can see no benefit to having an editor if the work is published and the embarrassment experienced! I will not work with that editor again, of course. The risk in doing it myself is missing something. Paying someone(s) to guarantee no errors is also a risk. I suppose I have to determine if my work is worth my own investment. I just need to hear you say it.”

Well then, Rodric, you will hear me say it: it is always better to have an editor rather than do it yourself. You are just too close to your own work, and that means you will, inevitably, overlook or miss errors either in spelling, sentence structure, or storyline.

I know all about money problems. You do have other options. Find some writing friends to be beta readers for you. They may not catch every error but they can sure help to narrow down the list of errors for you. You can trade off with someone…they will edit your work and you will edit theirs when the time comes.

Neither of those options are perfect solutions, but they are infinitely better than you editing your own work.

Good luck!

Unreliable Narrator

From Zulma: “I'm curious. Have you ever written anything where the narrator is unreliable? As I understand it, an unreliable narrator is a character who tells the reader the story, but may not be telling it accurately. Therefore the reader may not be getting all the facts. This may be because the narrator did not witness the event and does not have all the facts himself, he has added embellishments that confuse the issue or he is deliberately misleading the reader for reasons of his own. Anything the unreliable narrator says is suspect.”

Zulma, you completely stumped me, and I do mean completely. I had never heard of an unreliable narrator until you asked the question. My immediate answer is no, I have never written anything like that, but now I’m fascinated by the concept. What if your narrator is the main character . . .first person POV . . . and they are telling a story about a crime committed, leaving out details which would point towards him/her as the perpetrator of the crime . . . that would be a fun writing exercise! It would be like a criminal talking about a scenario where a crime is committed, and it’s a real crime that he committed, but he keeps saying “this is just an imaginary situation.” That would be a very fun write for sure.

Anger and Writing

From Sally: “A curious question but short question Billy. Do you ever write out of anger? If so, do you think it improves your writing?”

Sally, that question is a first!

No, I never write out of anger. I write when I’m feeling other emotions, but I really don’t trust myself to write on those rare occasions, and they are rare, when I am truly angry. Now, if I could only learn that lesson with regards to speaking out of anger, I would be in the running for sainthood. J

I Think That’s About It for This Week

Time’s flying, you know, so let’s wrap this up. My birds need me.

I should spend an hour working on my novel for the first time in two months.

I should build a new chicken coop.

I should, I should, I should . . .

See ya next week!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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