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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 223

Updated on October 1, 2018

Finding Balance

I’ve had this week marked on my calendar for at least six months now; it is the week I can return to creative writing, and I’ve been pretty excited about it.

And then one of my best freelance customers waved a new contract in front of my face . . . literally two days ago . . . meaning more money for Bev and I . . . meaning more time spent on those soul-sucking articles rather than on creative writing.

And so I debate!

I’ll spend this weekend debating. And by the time I publish this on October 1st, the decision will have been made.

On the grand scale of life, this is not terribly important. It has no effect on victims’ rights or sexual predation; it certainly has no effect on those still suffering in the Carolinas from the last hurricane. It’s just one of those struggles we all go through in life, and no matter what I choose to do, life will go on.

And you know what? My life is damned good! I mean seriously, my life is fantastic. I am healthy, I am loved, and I have found the path of least resistance upon which I can flourish. So I’ll make a decision, move on, and smile my ass off in the process.

Let’s do this thing called the Mailbag!

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

Should Writers Read a Lot?

From Shannon: “Here's a mailbag question for you. I'm not sure if you've been asked this before, though, but here goes. You know how many writers say it's necessary to read a lot? Well, I love to read and do so quite often. I just find that sometimes it cramps me more than it helps. I was wondering what your personal experience has been?”

Shannon, I’m a voracious reader, and I’m convinced that has helped my writing, so there you go.

Having said that, I know a writer here in Olympia who rarely reads, and she has no problem writing despite that character defect. Lol

So here’s the bottom line, and we all love bottom lines in black and white, right? The bottom line is whatever works for you is the plan you should follow. Writing is a personal quest. Being a writer only requires one thing: a willingness to write. How you get to the end of a story or novel is not terribly important; what is important is actually writing.

In the words of a former mentor, me thinks you think too much!

Preparation by Depression

From Eric: “Yesterday I found myself getting pumped down to write. I mean I was writing about a bummer and so I found myself getting prepped by getting depressed. Really weird I think. What do you think?”

Eric, if that’s weird, then you have company in the Looney Cell, because I’m right there beside you.

As some of you know, I’ve written a series of novels called The Shadow Series. These novels are about serial killers. They are not for the squeamish or mild-hearted. I do not tip-toe around gore in those novels. And to prepare for writing one of those novels, I read about former serial killers like Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer.

Talk about a bummer!

I think I mentioned last week that I call this method writing, piggybacking on method acting in film and stage. I have to get inside the head of a monster in order to achieve realism in my novels so yes, I get it completely.

Now there may be another way to prepare for that undertaking, but this method works for me and that’s all that’s important. So continue pumping down to write, if necessary.

Preparation by depression for most of these books of mine
Preparation by depression for most of these books of mine | Source

Protagonist Vs Antagonist

From Bruce: “Hey, Bill, I was wondering, can a protagonist be his/her own antagonist in a novel? Do you need to have two separate entities, or can they both be in one person? Does that make sense?”

It makes perfect sense, Bruce. I’ve heard it called “man against himself,” and it can be a very powerful character study/novel. I read one writer describe it as the antagonistic force within the protagonist and yes, the struggle can be very powerful and compelling. Think of a novel where the protagonist suffers from clinical depression, and continually does things which torpedo his chances of success . . . or a story about an alcoholic or a drug addict . . . there you definitely see the struggle alive within one person.

Every character potentially has an internal struggle going on.
Every character potentially has an internal struggle going on. | Source

Too Much Backstory

From Alice: “Bill, is it possible to have too much backstory? I know backstory is necessary for a reader to understand what is going on with characters, but it also seems to me to be possible to overdo that. I know I would have a tendency to overdo it for fear that I wasn’t explaining it all in an adequate manner, you know?”

Oh my goodness yes, Alice, it is possible to have too much backstory. I’m reminded of a manuscript I proofread for a friend. I hesitated to do it because this woman had worked so hard on it, and it was so important to her. The thing was something like 1,000 pages, a sprawling historical fiction spanning a couple hundred years; it was her first attempt at writing a novel; and my proofreading it did not go well. She had included so much backstory that I became seriously bored and eventually annoyed with the story. It turns out the storyline was pretty good . . . compelling as a matter of fact . . . but one had to be pretty damned dedicated to find that storyline.

So I told her all that, and I trimmed something like 200 pages from the manuscript, and we are no longer friends.

Such is life!

The best storyline is told in a series of hints until it is absolutely necessary to share the main backstory in order for the reader to understand. Remember that the purpose of backstory is to help the plot to progress smoothly and to allow clarity for the reader, so it’s a balancing act to find that perfect amount of backstory.

Crystal clear . . . crystal blue . . . crystal blue persuasion . . . Tommy James, thank you very much!!!

And Now I Must Go

It’s time for me to shut it down for the day, put on my farmer’s hat, and go feed the chickens. While I’m out at the farm I’ll ask the birds what they think I should do regarding the writing dilemma I mentioned earlier. Chances are they will be non-committal about it, but in their own way they will be helpful as well.

Chickens are like that. I can’t really explain it. It’s kind of like crystal blue persuasion. I have no clue what that song title really means, but it makes me feel peaceful when I hear the song.

Go figure that one out and get back to me . . . it’s like the song Louie Louie…does anyone really know what the lyrics are to that song? And yet it is an anthem, of sorts, for the entire rock n roll movement.

Very strange!

Did you see that Marty Balin, one of the founding members of The Jefferson Airplane, died? He was not as well-known as lead singer Grace Slick, but if you ever get the chance, check out his lead (look under Jefferson Airplane on YouTube) on a song called “Today.” It is beautiful . . . as are you . . . thank you for being you, all of you!

Have a great week, my friends. Thank you for the questions, thank you for the comments, and thank you for the sense of community you bring to the Mail Room.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      There you go, Lawrence. I can agree with the immersion method. :) Thanks as always!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      'Preparation by depression'?

      I get the meaning, and I think good writing comes from when the writer gets 'immersed' in the story!

      I know that's how I have to do things.

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, you made me laugh. Thank you for that. Life is definitely good, my friend, as long as I allow it to be.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Reading your intro made my heart smile, Bill. Life is good.

      The Backstory can be challenging. We want to engage readers in our characters, but when does it become too little or too much? Your friend is lucky in that she had your expert editing skills.

      I was sorry to learn of Balin's passing. It was nice listening to his soulful tenor voice in the music video, "Today."

      And good luck with your writing dilemma...may the chickens be with you, my friend. :-)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That was sweet of your son, Zulma! But i understand about laptops. Me, I'm longing for a larger screen.

      Yes, most definitely, to your question. I'll elaborate next week.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the well-wishes, Nithya! I appreciate it very much.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      7 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill. Sorry I've been quiet lately. My computer seems to have slipped into a coma. My son rigged up his laptop for me till he can figure out what's wrong with the workhorse. A sweet gesture but I really, really hate laptop keyboards. Anywho…

      I like the idea of the hero being his own worst enemy, but I'm not sure I understand. It seems like your saying a character flaw can set the protag up for defeat. Can his environment, upbringing, social circle etc. also work against him?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Heidi! I know all about busy weeks. I just appreciate you finding the time on a Sunday to visit...thanks for sharing your expertise. Samurai sword...great laugh from that line.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 months ago from Dubai

      It is great that you have got such a contract and am sure you will find a way to balance creative and commercial writing. I love to read and many times it has inspired me to write. Great mailbag as always.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 months ago from Chicago Area

      Sorry so late to last week's Mailbag! It's been a busy one. Had two book manuscripts to critique and we welcomed a new (old) pup into our home. She's 9 years old and an absolute sweetheart. But, still, there's always a lot of work with that.

      Re: Readers are Writers? I read daily. Probably because I mainly write nonfiction, my reading of both books and blogs gives me new insight and ideas. But I suppose there are people who can do it without observing others. I think, though, that this could only be done if the person has read in the past, as they were learning their language skills. How would you understand what to do? To each his own.

      Re: Too Much Backstory... Or Just Too Much. OMG, how did you ever deal with a 1,000 page book? And as a friend? Yikes! I find the "War and Peace" length books with new and unskilled writers. That's when I have to whip out my samurai sword and slice and dice the manuscript into art.

      Even though you've got some new work coming, I do hope that you can get to your creative bookcrafting soon. Cheers!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, thanks for commenting so thoroughly despite not feeling well. Rest up, my friend. Don't Overdo it. This world needs you at full strength to spread more love.

      Peace and love always

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Li-Jen! I'm happy I amused you. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's coming tomorrow, Shannon, rhetorical or not. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      7 months ago from london

      That piece of intro was awesome, Bro. Great writing always get me buzzing. Not like 'shadows' or 'billy the kid', but still a masterpiece.

      I hardly read anything non-spiritual. My soul can't take it. But to Shannon I still say read, read, read. Practice, practice, practice. I read an aweful lot as a child and it stayed with me. But if it's not her thing that's ok too.

      That must have been some novel to edit and without gratitude at the end. We say in poetry circles that writers are very sensitive people.

      An American friend asked me for help with editing once. His spelling and dates were pretty bad. Yet he screamed at me for pointing out just one error.

      Right there in the middle of Manhattan, I was made to feel so bad! Yet I remained peaceful and took it all. So many years later, he is speaking to me. But I had to make the effort.

      I would probably take that job and yes, perhaps you and Bev need the money. Vivekananda never charged for his spiritual teachings, but one of his disciples did.

      When it was reported to Vivekananda, he said that the disciple was sincere, but needed the money to survive. Funny old thing, life.

      Sorry I'm late, Bro. In Germany and not feeling my best. Peace, Bro.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      7 months ago

      Hey Bill. You are amusing as always. I like the Mailbag idea and the picture of the Mail Room in every article. Your closing is what makes your article unique too. Thanks for sharing.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      7 months ago from Texas

      Oh. I was being more rhetorical than anything else. But, hey, I look forward to your answer! I'm sure it will be interesting, as always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very kind, Rajan! Thank you kindly!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      He was indeed, Lori! Fodder for many years of writing.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's an interesting question, Shanno, one I'll tackle in the Mailbag...you've got me thinking with that one.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such an insightful comment.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for underlining the importance of reading and more reading. It certainly shows in the class of writing. Thanks for such a superlative mailbag.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      7 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Howdy farmer Bill. Wasn't Bundy once your paperboy?

      Another good mailbag to learn from. Happy trails.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The pleasure is all min, Eman! Thank you so much.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Always my pleasure, Dora! Thanks so much.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Never a nut, Rinita! It's just your preference, neither right nor wrong. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do believe, Rodric, that laying hints throughout is the most effective way to give backstory....but I've seen it vomited in total early on, so what do I really know? lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No it isn't, Devika, but for a writer, it is unusual not to read, me thinks!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Go figure for sure, Bill! You and me both.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for the visit, Kara....yes, it can be tricky for sure...luckily I'm not prone to long fits of depression.

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      7 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you so much, Mr. Holland, for this interesting article. I liked reading it.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      7 months ago from Texas

      The comments about romance are hilarious. Not all romance is bad, though the genre has a bad reputation. I've read quite a few really good ones. Of course, not the "dime store" generic stuff, which generally is lower quality. I'm thinking of plot lines that also involve a love story. I recently finished reading a crime thriller. The emphasis of the plot was not on the romance, but the damn book shocked me at the end with the death of a main character. Who does that? Reel me in hook, line, and sinker, and then BAM! Probably didn't help that it happened to be the last book in the series. I was unaware of that fact at the time. Until I went looking for answers about the gut punch ending. Turns out the ending left an opening for another series involving the other main character.

      But anyway.... I majorly digress. It's interesting to read the comments about reading. I do love to read. I just try not to be influenced too much by another author's style to the point it stalls me. That's the tricky part of editing, too, when I am not the editor. At what point does it no longer feel like my voice speaking and when is it still my voice but better?

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 months ago from The Caribbean

      You do have some very interesting experiences as a writer. Thanks for sharing them.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M.....interesting scenario you pose...I'll have to give that some thought. Thank you for the question and peace be with you this week and beyond!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know what works for others, LIz, but for me, reading is mandatory.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I did reach that decision, Linda, one I can live with. Thanks so much!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you had me laughing with the IKEA instructional manual line. Thanks for the laugh. I have read exactly one-half of one romance novel. I found it a good way to learn how not to write!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, Happy Birthday, buddy! Thanks for the question. I'm afraid the quick answer is no...a failing of mine for sure. lol

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      7 months ago

      Wonderful to read, always, your mailbags. Reading is soothing, whether one writes or not. I am glad you were able to find balance between client's work and creative writing. I must say one thing though, maybe I am the only nut here, but I enjoy reading a detailed backstory, unless, of course, it is poorly written. Thanks Bill.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony 

      7 months ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Bill, this is, of course, another hit with me. I have had to work through my backstory issues. My problem is I want the reader to know my characters like I do and love them or hate them as I do. Giving hints compel the reader to want to find out more. Why does a character respond a certain way? I want to read on to see if it is revealed later. One of my friends did what you did to your former friend to me. Instead of vomiting the entire history of my main character, I spread hints throughout the book. Some are coming in the next book. Everyone loves a little bit of mystery.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Reading is to gain knowledge and further improve grammar etc, but reading is not for every one.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, there's a treat my chickens have never had. No way am I introducing them to almonds. lol I'll go broke buying them nuts....but great idea.

      Enough with the rain for you folks. I don't want it, but you can send it eastward with my blessings.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! I start working on it tomorrow....let's hope I haven't lost the touch.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes you must, Nell...soon so we can all hear about your adventures. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! I can't imagine writing a 1000 page novel....by then all my characters would be killed off and there would be no one. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela! I don't think I've ever read "Gone With the Wind"....strange omission...I might have to rectify that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I always smile when I see you return...thank you for that smile, and may the angels carry with them good news to you and your family.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Intereating dilemma you have. I’m sure you will figure it out and proceed accordingly. I can’t imagine being a writer and not enjoy reading. Go figure. Have a great week.

    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 

      7 months ago from Maine

      The preparation by depression sounds like a tricky method, at least it would be for me. When I get depressed, I don't want to write (or do anything else for that matter) even if I have a dark storyline to write.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      7 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Good answers to the questions asked. You deal every question so tactically and also add some humor to smile upon there. A very nice way of answering things.

      I am confused with that backstory question and answer. If it is a narrative story, is there the possibility of some backstory in it? Suppose a story centers around one main character and you tell the story chronologically from birth to death of that character. You will present all those characters involved in his life as and when the situations demand. Do you call the presentation or description of their features or the characteristics and the relationship with the main character as a backstory?

      You may explain it in detail in your next mailbag.

      As for reading, I read much more than writing (I think). And, I enjoy most of what I read with much appreciation.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      Fascinating question and answer session as always. I always took it that a voracious reader fed the writer in you. But then again I guess it's possible to get over-influenced by a favourite writer's style. Maybe the key to avoid this is to read widely.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I always enjoy reading about your experiences related to writing, Bill. Thank you for sharing them. I hope you reach a decision that satisfies you in relation to the dilemma that you're facing.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      7 months ago from Brazil

      It's interesting about the author who doesn't like to read. I read daily. When I had temporarily lost my mind and thought I could be a romance writer, I asked a friend to bring me a few romance books so I could get a feel for the genre.

      I felt like I should dissect these for inspiration but was irked at the quality. An author, who had written multiple books and sold several thousand copies through a well-known publishing house, stopped me in my tracks when I read the line.

      "She walked into the beautiful room and on the table were beautiful flowers."

      Does this woman not own a thesaurus?

      Anyway, my romance stories sounded more like an IKEA instructional manual so I decided to shelve them. (pun intended)

      I agree with your soul-sucking definition, I just mentally can't write something I'm not enjoying.

      You have a great week up there.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Way bicthin cool dude. I am a little taken aback at learning that many folks do not read very much. Doris taught us that whatever will be will be. Que Sera Sera.

      Bill I am kind of tired having to look up words in a dictionary. My automatic edit, just as here, discount and don't know a danged complicated word.

      (I do believe that the concept of grammerly (sp) is just plain added to the list of sins) Note please that there is no correction for "grammerly".

      So what are your thoughts on this. My phone is great in making a quick note to another. I think that is OK in texting, which I do about 1 time a day. (exception when mom gives a honey-do-list)

      But seriously, do you use such editing mechanics?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I just decided to balance my days a bit better and squeeze out the time needed to do my creative writing. It will work out if I want it badly enough.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks William! chickens fed and happy for another day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy to hear that, Mary! Thanks so much. I'll keep doing them, knowing people like you enjoy them.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! Great summary of writing with the 26 letters. Truly amazing. I am still in shock that I have some semblance o talent in writing...probably always will be.

      Happy Tuesday dear friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, that sounds like a wonderful book club; especially the meal. :) Thanks so much. Showers but mild here; all in all not bad. :)

      Wishing you a brilliant week ahead, my friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy, nice to hear from you, as always. I have not heard of Charles Aznavour. Thanks for the tip. I'll check him out today. Beautiful voices need to be heard, even after they have passed on.

      Peace and blessings to you always

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      7 months ago from Beautiful South

      Good evening, Bill. I finally made it to your mailbag today. I can't imagine a writer who doesn't like to read, but to each his own, I guess. Interesting problem you had editing that writer's book. I guess you learned the hard way that we editors are the most despised people in the publishing industry.

      I know what my chickens would answer if I asked them a question. "Want nuts, want nuts." I have spoiled them rotten by giving them crushed almonds for treats, and they say that to me all the time. They come to the back door begging for nuts.

      We are 13 1/2 inches over our average yearly rainfall. Our rain gauge was overflowing past the 6 in. mark. I estimate at least 7 1/2 inches last week along. And back up into the high 80s again. Have a good cool dry week, my friend.(And give those chickens a treat for me!)

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Bill - My guess that 'Shadows' novel is working away in a corner of your mind, just waiting to get down on paper. That is something that likely only a reader can accomplish. We both know it is not going to be a thousand page novel. Just the act of volunteering to edit a 1,000 page book deserves a medal. And last:

      It's Monday already?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 months ago from England

      Great advice as always Bill, and I must get some Chickens so that I can commune with nature when I have a problem! lol!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Those chickens will definitely know the answer to your dilemma, Bill. I'm sure they'll help you decide.

      Regarding the backstory question and your experience in editing, like you said, "Whatever works for you." Apparently that writer liked a lot of detail; a thousand pages is a lot. Wow. Impressive in so many ways.

      Jefferson Airplane and Marty Balin - now, that brings back a lot of memories. All the good ones seem to be fading out. Listening to "Today" right now.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I think the variety of topics was so interesting today. I cannot imagine not liking to read, but wanting to write. I remember reading "Gone With the Wind" one summer when I was about 13, and I thought it was a huge accomplishment. I have always read.

      I like the way you explained the use of the backstory, and your comments on the other questions. I look forward to reading the mailbag on Mondays.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 months ago from sunny Florida

      Your best advice to answer of question#1..."whatever works for you"...absolutely....there are no hard and fast rules about that which makes it such a lovely thing to engage in. Hope your decision came to you with ease. Angels once again are on the way. ps

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Melissa! The plan is to go ahead and just juggle my time a bit more efficiently. The Magician's Shadow is still tentatively scheduled for the first of the new year...crossing my fingers!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 months ago from Central Florida

      Great mailbag, Bill. I kinda befuddles me that someone who doesn't read would be interested in writing. I got the writing bug because I love to read. I love to be swept away to another place by the written word. If you don't read, how do you know what that feels like?

      So, the big question is: what did you decide to do about the contract?

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      More good stuff, Bill. Thanks for our weekly dose of education. Now, get back and feed those chickens!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I always learn from the answers to the questions but what I appreciate more are your intro and your goodbye statements. Today, it is very uplifting...thank you for being you, too.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, this was a really, really great mailbag. All of them hinge this week on writing that great novel.

      I thoroughly enjoy reading. Isn't it amazing that we all have the same 26 letters of the alphabet at our disposal but the combination of those 26 characters is limitless? Some do it so well, others create negativity and hatred. Some create such touchingly vivid images. I'm presently reading a biography that has had me laughing out loud at times not able to continue reading because I'm gasping for breath guffawing (and I'm not easily amused).

      I have a friend who has been asking (pleading) for me to edit her manuscript. I think I should share your comments with her. I'd hate for that friendship to come to an end, but I fear that it would. Writing is so personal.

      I wish you well with your decision.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      7 months ago from SW England

      More super questions and answers, bill! I find it fascinating that we can all have differing problems - then we realise that actually we all have the same problems but in different ways! I think...

      Great sunny day; hope it is with you too. Life is good and I love being among my HP friends.

      I love reading, in fact there's a book club meeting this week - but I didn't like the book! Never mind, we have a good discussion, then we digress to all sorts of things, and all over a meal - wonderful!

      Have a magnificent Monday, bill!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I'll bet that was scary, John! Quite often they will die of fright in a situation like that. You got lucky. Chickens are pretty good flyers, by the way, better than most people realize. Here's hoping yours will stay home from now on.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I feel the same way, Pop! Here's to inspiration!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Verlie! I hope I don't crack! lol

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      7 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! So, what did you decide? Do I have to wait a little longer for the next Shadows book?

      In regards to reading, I've heard a lot of people that are voracious readers but when in the middle of writing their own novel, they avoid reading in the same genre, or anything too close to the subject they are writing about. I guess they are worried that other people's ideas might creep into their own work.

      Hope you have a great and productive week!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "It turns out the storyline was pretty good . . . compelling as a matter of fact . . . but one had to be pretty damned dedicated to find that storyline." - Haha!! Ya, I'm not the dedicated type. One can lose me in the details if they're excessive.

      "I trimmed something like 200 pages from the manuscript, and we are no longer friends." - Ohh damn LOL ... It's really difficult to deal with fragile egos. Ohh well, what can You do? lol

      "Did you see that Marty Balin, one of the founding members of The Jefferson Airplane, died?" - No I didn't and my first thought was: "That's sad." Second thought was: "It was about time." And that second thought had no ugly intention in it. It's just that time flies and our favorite classic rock singers/bands are getting up there in age.

      I don't know if You ever heard of the French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour (the French Frank Sinatra) but he passed away today. Another beautiful voice gone with the wind.

      "Today" by Jefferson Airplane is a great song! : )

      Have an awesome week and thanks for sharing your thoughts here - cheers!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I love reading Bill, but lately most of it is online articles, stories etc. I used to love picking up a big fat novel and spending the best part of a week readin* it, I need to return to doing that and soon. I have so many books on my shelves and stored in boxes that I’ll never finish them in my lifetime.

      I went to feed my chickens today and they were missing from the coop. One came running when it saw me with food, but no sign of the other. Then I heard a squawking next door and saw the hen bein* chased by the neighbours dog and even in its mouth.

      I raced next door and rescued the hen....she seems ok, though lost a lot of feathers. I have no idea how they got out.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      7 months ago

      I read constantly, and I find that the more I read, the more inspired I get.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      7 months ago from Canada

      Good morning Bill, thanks again for the great discussions, words, and music, you are a good egg!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alyssa and Happy October to you! Did you make any decisions about moving to another state?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Shannon! I guess that friendship wasn't as strong as I thought it was. :(

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      7 months ago from Ohio

      Happy October! Another great mailbag! I, too, love Jefferson Airplane and was sad to see the news.

      Good luck with whatever you decide and have a great week! :)

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      7 months ago from Texas

      Thanks for taking the time to answer, Bill. I doubt I will stop reading any time soon, even if it does interfere sometimes. :) Really stinks that you lost a friend over an honest favor. All she had to do in that instance was get another opinion.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish. Time will tell, but right now I feel good about my decision.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That is sweet of you, Janine. Thank you! I think I've worked out a good compromise I can live with.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

      It’s a good problem to have when customers won’t leave you alone and you may have to decline business. I’m sure you’ll make the choice that’s right for you. Happy writing!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      7 months ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I had a similar thing happen last week with designing for a client. It was a split section decision, which I grabbed onto and took. In the end, I had a blast not only working for the client but also made a nice sum of money, too. So, it reminded me why I had done this in the past. That said, we all need to make the choice that works for us in the end. I am hoping you have made the right decision for you and your family. I am also pretty confident you did. That said, Happy Monday once again :)

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