The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 204
Odds and Ends
As some of you may know, I help manage and run a local farmers market every Wednesday. It keeps me pretty busy and it is definitely not a one-day gig.
I recently received an email from a local author asking if she could rent a booth and sell her books at the Market. I had to smile when I read her email. Last summer I tried exactly the same thing and I sold one book in five weeks.
Not exactly a profitable undertaking!
But you never know unless you try, and that’s my message to you. If you never try you can count on zero results.
I don’t know how that woman is going to do at our market, but I hope she sells hundreds of her novel. She should be rewarded for getting out there and taking the risk.
Great questions this week . . . let’s do this thing!
From Ann: “How does a writer contain the obsession? We need it to keep writing but if we go on too much, it destroys us and bores or annoys the reader. In other words, how do we give ourselves a day off? So, how do you know where to draw the line and how do you make yourself have a day off?”
Ann, I’m laughing as I read this. I’ve been forced to step away from my writing obsession by other responsibilities. I haven’t written anything on my novels in over six months. In that same time I’ve probably written a total of maybe five short stories. I’m having serious withdrawals from my creative writing, and I can tell you without any hesitation that the obsession does not go away. I may not be able to write at this time, but the obsession screams at me almost daily, and my muse is still paying attention and filing away information for when I do finally start writing again.
Contain the obsession? I’m not sure it is possible and, in all honesty, I’m not sure I would want to. I love being a writer. I love crafting the perfect sentence, and I love affecting people positively.
And I miss it terribly!
More on Dialects
From Nikki: “As with dialects, I agree with you, they work very well until they don’t seem to be difficult to understand for a reader. I’ve a question, how do they effect the story to make it more interesting and how to make some great dialects language to put more spices in the curry?”
How do dialects affect the story to make them more interesting? I think they add authenticity to a story but again, I caution everyone, only use dialects as long as they can be understood and they don’t distract a reader from the story. Some dialects, like an Irish brogue, or a Liverpool dialect, are fairly easy to comprehend over the span of a book….the same can be said for Cajun in Louisiana . . . but . . . step lightly into that swamp. Always remember that the story is the central focus and not the dialect.
How to make great dialects? There are actually computer apps and programs which will translate a sentence into a particular dialect. I have not used any of them, but I do know they exist. Truth be told I’m a pretty lazy writer when it comes to research like that. I prefer to write my stories using good old English. I might toss in a little variation based on a particular era, or a spattering of southern dialect, but no way am I venturing overseas and tackling some of those dialects.
Are There Boundaries?
From Eric: “You fight for good. What are the boundaries in your mind and teaching? Oh let us not forget your condemnation like when our Black man went north and our beloved steer wagon friends went with his family. You attack social ills. How? Without being a jackass of sorts?”
Eric, I have always been concerned that I might sound like I’m preaching on those social articles. Pontification is something I abhor in writers, so I’m always aware of it. And buddy, to some people I am always going to sound like a jackass, so not much I can do about that.
For those of you fairly new to my show, I used to write social commentary articles. It was my thing for a couple of years. Now I tend to toss social commentary into my stories. I’ll have the main character expound on my beliefs. That way I don’t get in trouble or have people hate me. LOL Sneaky devil!
The other thing, Eric, which you share with me, or I share with you, is the fact that people basically like us. I have a pretty loyal gathering of friends, and even if they disagree with what I am saying, they will be respectful in their comments. I love that, I really do. Hell, it would be boring as hell if everyone agreed with me. I encourage people to disagree with me. Just be respectful when you do it.
Now, if you want the names of a couple jackasses on HP, who are never respectful in their comments, I’ll be happy to share them with you. J There are two in particular I can think of immediately.
Our Duty as a Writer
From Pam: “What do you think is the Number One duty of a writer? I guess I should clarify that and say the Number One duty of a fiction writer.”
Fascinating question, Pam! There probably are going to be as many opinions on this as there are fleas on an old hound, but to me, the primary goal of any fiction writer is to tell a captivating story. Fiction writers are entertainers. That is our job, to entertain our readers. We are the storytellers of our generation, practicing a craft which has been handed down from generation to generation by other storytellers. We captivate. We spin tales which suspend reality for a period of time. We allow readers to escape their troubles and become immersed in a fictional world.
And I think it’s important that we do our jobs well. The world needs entertainers and storytellers.
It is a grand and sacred calling.
And, as a bonus, I’ll toss this into the mix for non-fiction writers: the main goal of a non-fiction writer should be to tell the truth as best you can. Of course, then we get into a hornet’s nest concerning what is truth, and is your truth the same as my truth, and are my sources accurate or are they “fake news.”
Thanks a bunch, but I’ll stick with fiction.
And Now It’s Time to Say Farewell
Just for a week so no worries. I’ve got chickens to feed and fences to mend, so I need to get myself in gear.
I wish you all a successful week, no matter how you define success. If you are writing this week, remember to enjoy it. Writing should be a fun activity, for goodness sake. Open your heart to your muse and turn her loose!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”