The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 226
Chili for Dinner Tonight
It’s one of those rituals of fall. The weather turns colder and I start getting a hankerin’ for chili. I don’t much like chili in July, but October it’s my meal of choice. Go figure!
Life is full of those little quirks. I’m full of them. I’m certainly full of something and that’s for sure. My dad would laugh at that; he always said I was full of something for damned sure. My mom said I was full of piss and vinegar. I was never quite certain what that meant, but she always smiled when she said it, so I guess it wasn’t a bad thing.
I’m also full of love, and I suspect both Mom and Dad knew that as well. After all, they taught me all about love, so I figure they knew it. I miss them. They brought comfort to me; they brought wisdom; and they brought love.
And so I pick up their legacy and I try, now, to do all things in love. I fall short at times, but the intent is there and that has to count for something, right? Hey, truth be known, they fell short at times too. We all do. We are human and that means imperfection, and pointing fingers at others is the activity of a fool in my opinion.
So I’m all about love, thank you very much.
Let’s see what the Mailbag has for us today.
The Battle Within
From Zulma: “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?”
Zulma, in my mind yes, those can all be the antagonist in a story, as can the inner struggle we all have with good vs bad. I’m reminded of that agonizing novel “Crime and Punishment.” Now, in my opinion, that novel was about five-hundred pages too long but it was, and is, a perfect example of the internal struggles of man.
Actually, my novel “Resurrecting Tobias” was all about that inner struggle. Toby was the embodiment of our better angels doing battle with our darker inhabitants. It is a struggle I think we all have daily…but then I might just be full of it, too. Lol But seriously, doesn’t that make sense? I can even make an argument for a book like “The Old Man and the Sea.” Yes, the huge fish can be seen as the antagonist for eighty-four days, but at its core that book is about the lifelong internal struggles of Santiago.
Or maybe not! Hemingway liked his rum, so maybe that was just a fishing story and nothing more.
It Will All Come out in the Wash
Also From Zulma: 'It will all come out in the wash,' I haven't heard that saying for years. I didn't know what it meant then and I don't know what it means now. Can you explain it to me like I'm five, please.”
Oh God, Zulma, my mother drove me nuts with that saying. Her meaning, and the meaning I have always attributed to that saying, is that over time things will normalize, that things are never as bad as they seem, and to just hang in there and wait for things to improve. Now it just so happens that I believe that to be true, but I’ll be quite happy if I never hear it again.
Oh my God, I’m turning into my mother!!!!!
From Eric: “So I ask you straight up. When you are doing a chore, even writing for clients, does your mind do a multitask and create an idea. Possibly worth writing about? Probably just a quick answer here would work.”
Eric, I swear to you this is true, my muse never shuts up. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was feeding the chickens. Every day I have to chase the peacocks out of Chicken Town because they love to steal the chicken feed. Actually I’ve trained our dog Maggie to chase them out, and she’s good at it, provided there is a treat for her when she finishes her task. Anyway, I was tossing out the grain on the ground, and thinking about those peacocks. There’s no reason to get mad at them, just as there is no reason to get mad at coyotes when they attempt to kill one of my chickens. They are just doing what they were born to do; there is no malice in their actions, unlike with some people I have known, and that got me to thinking about a possible article.
And that stuff literally happens all the time to me. I see life as some chapter in a book which hasn’t been written yet, and really I think that’s pretty cool. I hope my muse never abandons me, because I kind of like having her around.
A Little Bit of Me, a Little Bit of You
Two From Rinita: 1. “Do you think it is bad to include a little bit of you in whatever you pen down? For example, if I write anything fictional, there is at least one character, not necessarily the protagonist, who shares some of my own characteristics or experiences in life. If you think it is not good, how do you suggest getting over it and not put any part of you in your work?”
Rinita, I don’t think there is anything wrong at all in doing that. I do that all the time in every story or novel I write. I’d be surprised to meet a writer who does not do that, so I would be hard-pressed to tell you how not to do it.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would want to eliminate that from their writing. I’m sure there is a reason for not doing it, but I can’t think of it. Just keep doing what you are doing. If you are satisfied with it then that’s all that really matters. First and foremost we must please ourselves with our writings.
2. “This is a lighter question. You answer all of our questions, is there anyone who answers yours?”
Rinita, absolutely no one! LOL I joke a bit. I don’t mean to get all philosophical on you, but life is my teacher. Actually it always has been, but for years I wasn’t receptive to the answers. All of the valuable lessons, and all of the valuable answers that I need, were taught to me long ago. Now all I have to do is recall them and live by them.
And if you were talking about writing questions, I have a small group of trusted writer friends I can always turn to for insight.
And That’s All There Is
It’s foggy this morning as I write this.
I love the fog.
I love the distortion is brings to the norm.
I love the mystery and uncertainty it brings; the perfect metaphor for life in general.
Only one real message for you today, and that is to do all things with love as you go about your day. We may not be able to make major changes to this world with a single action of love, but cumulatively, over time, I have to believe we make a difference. “And, in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Thank you Paul and John!.
Love to you all!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”