The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 203
Here I Go Again!
My apologies to Whitesnake! I have no idea why that just popped into my head, but that’s just how my brain works. I didn’t particularly like that song when it came out, and I’m certainly not a life-long member of the Whitesnake Fan Club (if there is one), but, well, welcome to my world! Which of course reminds me of an old tv show with William Windom in it called “My World and Welcome To It” about a cartoonist, loosely based on the cartoonist Thurber, I believe.
This is how my mind works daily, a blizzard of random and yet connecting thoughts, each one leading somewhere else, many of which lead to story ideas.
Am I the only one who thinks like this? I suspect not! I suspect a great many of you suffer from the same blizzard-like malady.
So, Whitesnake fans, shall we see what the mail has for us this week?
From Mary: “I don't know if you have heard about 'cockygate'. There is a romance writer who has copyrighted or trademarked the word 'cocky' as many of her novels use this in the title. She has sent letters to other romance writers telling them to change their titles or they will be sued. Surely this could have far-reaching ramifications in the publishing world. What are your thoughts on this?”
Oh, Mary, you really opened up a can of worms with this question.
I’m fed up with this kind of b.s. in society in general.
I do have a problem with using the exact same title, and plagiarizing portions of someone else’s book irks me to no end, but the word “cocky?” Can things get any more ridiculous?
We are a society which seems to be obsessed with keeping lawyers in business. I saw a sign at the railroad crossing the other day that said “Caution: Trains Travel at High Speeds!” Really? Is there someone on this planet who does not know that? Is there someone on this planet who is not aware that a fast-moving train will win a collision with a human being every single time? And yet we see those types of warnings every single day in order to prevent lawsuits from people with the brains and moral fortitude of a fruit fly.
Give me a one-way ticket back to when I was a kid. If you got hit by a train people would look at your remains and say “there lies a stupid s.o.b.” Sue someone for using a common word? How about we meet out back and duke it out. Last man standing gets to use that word.
I’m fed up! Can you tell?
Writers Need Shrinks?
From Eric: “Here is a weird one for you. Up until 30 or so, several times a day I would ask myself what my mom or dad would do or say about something. Now on my last hike I got myself into one or two plus jams. I actually asked myself how I would write about it. It worked. My writing self is wiser than my "actual self". I have other reasons but on that reason alone should I see a shrink?”
I know you’re being mostly facetious about this, Eric, but seriously, I’m pretty sure many of us could benefit from a little psychoanalysis.
I was going to say that my mind doesn’t work like the mind of a normal person, but that seems to me to be a shallow cry for distinction. In fact, a trip inside the brain of any of us would reveal quite a horror show. We are not unique that way. We all have bizarre things going on inside our brains. A mentor of mine once called my brain the most dangerous real estate in the world, and I happen to think he’s correct.
I do think “Creatives” have a unique way of looking at life. I know some Creatives who talk about their muse as if he/she were a real person. They are so empathetic that they will burst out crying while at the park on a sunny day because someone stepped on an ant. They write a story about a serial killer and then can’t sleep for weeks. They read a news story about sex trafficking and go into a depression. Like above, they play word games with seemingly meaningless phrases, and somehow novels emerge from the tangled web of syllables.
Sure, I probably should go see a shrink but dammit, Eric, I’m having so much fun the way it is; I’d hate to throw good money away, you know?
More About Dialects
From Julio: “You talked last week about dialects, and how the dialect should never detract from the story. But how do you know if it detracts? What should you look for when using dialects?”
Great question, Julio! This is a case where I have to trust some good writer friends. If I suspect I’ve gone overboard on dialect, I will consult them and ask their opinion. The overriding rule in the case of dialect is that it must not detract from the flow of the story. If I’ve created a character who speaks in a foreign dialect, and it is a difficult dialect for the average reader to follow or understand, then I have to be very, very careful. But the problem arises that I may be too close to my novel and not realize that the dialect is confusing . . . thus I consult a friend!
From Lori: “You've probably answered.it. what costs do you put out for publishing with create space,? That would include the 1st.shipment of books. Thanks Bill. Lori”
I’ve published what, seven novels and five novellas, on CreateSpace, and none of them have cost me a penny during the process. The cost of actually having a book printed and shipped to you is dependent upon the length of the book, the size of the book, and the type of cover and color/black and white….one of my novels, printed and shipped, costs about $4-$5 depending on those factors. Something like a photo book with color and hard-cover would cost considerably more.
Another Short One Today
And that’s fine! Not all Mailbags are created equal. Perhaps I should put a disclaimer at the top of this one: Beware, this Mailbag may be too short to please everyone. That way I won’t get sued for being under 1,250 words. LOL
Have a great week of writing!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”