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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 227

Updated on October 22, 2018

The Flea Circus

I was doing some research the other day on the history of the flea circus. I know, weird, right? And it was a random quest. It just popped into my head and I had to find out about it.

Welcome to my mind, folks!

The first recorded flea circus dates back to Italy and the 1820s, and amazingly there are still a couple flea circuses still in operation, one in Munich and the other, I believe, in London.

Now flea circuses are of two types, those with real fleas and those using intricate machinery instead of flea, giving the appearance that fleas exist when in fact they do not.

It’s all pretty cool if you ask me, which you didn’t, but it got me thinking about creative writers. The really good ones can tell a story, and create characters, which seem totally real when in fact they are simply figments of the writer’s imagination . . . you think you see fleas when, in fact, none exist!

Again, welcome to my mind!

Shall we see what the readers have on their minds today?

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

DETOUR

From Ann: “On a tangent to that, have you ever gone off-track when writing and come up with a completely different and better story than the one you started?”

In fact, Ann, my entire “Shadow” series of novels began with exactly that happening. I set out with an idea and actually wrote ten-thousand words on that first novel when I realized the book was not going to work with the premise I began with . . . so I tossed those ten-thousand words and “Shadows Kill” was the result. The rest, as they say, is history.

It was a strange experience, to say the least. I was certain, starting out, that I had a vision, but my muse obviously had different plans for that book.

I do so love my muse!

One path may lead to another
One path may lead to another | Source

Borrowing a Muse

From Rodric: “My question is, is it okay to use another person's writing as your muse? Does it mean that I am not a natural writer if I don't have that writing-it-self-story experience? Like today, your reference to piss and vinegar gave me an idea for a story. Even your experience of peacocks swiping the chicken feed gave me an idea for a story. Is that muse? My apologies for the length of this. I am still behind on my mailbags because I was looking for 224. I will get over it.”

Actually, Rodric, what you surmise to be “using my muse” is, to me, inspiration. I get writing ideas from a variety of sources and, at times, those sources are something I have read. I still consider that to be my muse. It’s my muse who sees a storyline in a random paragraph or during a drive to the grocery store.

My wife explains it this way: she says I see things that other people don’t see, at all times in life, and that, she says, is my muse. I think you’ve got it and, if I were you, I would stop questioning it and ride it as far as possible.

Time in a Bottle

From Zulma: “I can't remember if I asked you this before but how do you mark time in your novels. Years ago, I entered a mini-saga competition. One of the judges said that there was no indication of time passing in the piece. I thought it was a ridiculous comment considering you were limited to 30 words. How much time did she think was going to pass in such a short tale. I couldn't ask her to elaborate as she didn't show up when it came time to announce the winners. Perhaps, you could explain how I could have accomplished this?”

Zulma, in my opinion, that judge would have benefited by trying to write according to her stringent guidelines. Thirty words? I’m not sure how that’s possible.

I’m probably not the best one to ask this question of since I write novels. It’s fairly easy for me to mark time by simply saying “the next day” or ‘later that morning I took a drive.” But thirty words?

The toughest task I ever undertook regarding time was in my novel “Resurrecting Tobias,” because I was using flashbacks throughout the book. I finally just gave up and marked each chapter with a date. It was the simplest solution I could find and I took it.

I have heard writing teachers say “show, don’t tell,” the passage of time. I understand what this means, but it is not easy to do . . . but then good writing shouldn’t be easy, should it? I’ve also read that the scene itself will mark time passing. In other words, if one scene has the protagonist running to and fro around town chasing whatever, the reader will intuit that time is passing because the reader understands how long it takes to drive somewhere and do the things the protagonist is doing.

None of these things I’m telling you answer your question about time passing in thirty words and for that I apologize.

Rocky Ending

From Lori: “It seems most people want a happy ending to a story. I know that is my preference, however, life is not often wrapped in a pretty bow. Have you written any stories that did not have an ending where things all worked out in the end? Do you have any thoughts on how to write an ending that is not happily ever after, where life did not turn out as hoped, but will not leave the reader disappointed? Thanks for all you do. Blessings friend.”

Lori, as stated, your question is a tricky one. Yes, I have written stories which did not have a happy ending, and I heard from some people that they did not like the bleak ending. People naturally want everything to work out in the end. I would venture to guess 90% of readers want a happy ending . . . but . . . if you do not have a happy ending, you can still keep from disappointing readers by doing one hell of a job of writing the entire story or novel. In other words, brilliant writing will, I think, overshadow any disappointment over a sad or tragic ending.

I’m reminded of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” I read that in high school, and I remember cheering on that old man, hoping he would get that damned fish back to shore in one piece. He didn’t, of course, but the story was so well-written that it overpowered the disappointment I had. In that same vein, my favorite book of all-time, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” does not end happily. The black man is convicted . . . that particular outcome is tragic . . . and yet the book was brilliant and I was satisfied with the ending.

I hope that helps!

Happy endings are not necessary...good writing is!
Happy endings are not necessary...good writing is!

And Now, My Friends

I release you to go visit YouTube. I want you to watch an actual flea circus. I’m sure they have them on YouTube. Everything else can be found there, right?

And after you watch that video, I invite you to sit down and write your own flea circus. Dazzle your audience with words. Create excitement out of nothing. Carry on the rich tradition of showmanship; it is our legacy as writers to do so.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I never read the sequel, Zulma, but I'll gladly take your word for it regarding its quality. I've seen that happen before with other authors. They just don't know when to leave well enough alone.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      7 days ago from United Kingdom

      Bill, I must agree with you about not writing for the fanbase. Many years ago, Stephen King wrote 'The Shining', easily my favourite novel of his. Then, after being asked by the fans whatever happened to the little boy, he wrote a sequel. (sigh) I wish he hadn't bothered. It was not the same calibre as its predecessor. It wasn't terrible, but it was disappointing. Tedious in some places, confusing in others and a bit of a slog to get through. OK, maybe it was terrible.

      I think he should have ignored the fans and left the fate of the survivors to the imagination.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, I completely agree with you. In the end, it is the writer who is in charge of the story, and the writer must listen to the muse, not the reader.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      7 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I've written two novels with what I thought was two different styles of ending, one was a happy ending (with a couple of intentional loose ends) and the other was a cliffhanger.

      The feedback I got from readers was they loved the books, but "Can you hurry up and write the next in the series, we want to know how it ends!"

      Truth is, I don't think the writer can really win with the reader, there's always going to be someone wanting a different end, the main thing is did they enjoy the journey?

      As for this novel, I have to finish the 'loose end' but we'll see what the ending is like because I have no idea at this stage.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      9 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Alyssa, I'm howling with laughter. That could be a new sort of prison, where prisoners are forced to watch Hallmark movies for years. lol

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      10 days ago from Ohio

      An interesting mailbag this week. I've never given much thought to a flea circus, but now I'm intrigued. Haha! Inspiration often strikes me at odd moments.. I always keep a pen and paper handy or the notes app on my phone to write down ideas. As a reader, I always get a little sad when a captivating story comes to an end. I never want to say good-bye to my favorite characters or have to leave that world.. it's always been that way. But as I get older, I think I appreciate a more real ending to a story versus a predictable happy ending, where everyone gets what they want. This past week, I was forced to watch a Hallmark movie with family. I was thinking that very same sentiment of wanting real versus a predictable story line that had already been done a bunch of times before.. how many times do we need to see a movie about twins who switch places, break the 'no romance' rule, and after a few hiccups, end up living happily ever after? That's two hours of my life I'll never get back. Actually, that might be a good story.. someone who is forced to watch Hallmark movies until they rediscover the magic of Christmas.. A sort of Groundhog Day meets A Christmas Carol. haha! See? Inspiration comes from everywhere. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I hope you had a great time on that cruise,something I have never done, so I'll live vicariously through you on that experience.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Welcome back, Suhail. It's always good when you drop by and visit. I appreciate you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Rajan! Inspiration, for sure, often when you least expect it.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Your mailbag is always an educative read. Inspiration can strike from anywhere and when you are hardly looking for it. Thank you for keeping this series going.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Bill,

      I came back to hubpages after spending 1 month long adventure travel trip to Pakistan where I was able to do lots of photography as well.

      The discussion on time is interesting as keeping a track of it during my small or large trips is essential. It seems I am obsessed with it. But during this trip, I was in a such a great vacations mode that I lost track of it LOL.

      It feels great to be back reading the mailbag series.

      Regards,

      Suhail

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Sorry I am a few days late reading this Mailbag, Bill. I was away on a South Pacific cruise last week and just returned Friday, invigorated and refreshed...hopefully inspired. Anyway, I really enjoyed the questions and answers in this mailbag. You answered Rodric’s question about the muse perfectly. You never know where their inspiration will come from, and it is sometimes from the least expected source.

      I used to be intrigued by flea circuses as a child and wondered why the ones I watched I could never actually see the fleas, only what they were doing. I was amazed how fleas could be trained to do those things. But fleas are small and hard to see, right? Now I know .. there may not have actually been real fleas involved haha.

      In regard to Ann’s question. I have often written a poem and then thought of a better direction, and scrapped the whole thing and rewritten it. That is better than rewriting a novel though I must say. In fact just now I have almost finished a poem about my time on the cruise but think I will scrap it and make it an essay instead.

      I also have a related question that I will email you. Well, I am so late that there is another Mailbag due today, so I will happily await that and try to be one of the first to comment. Cheers.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate your kindness, Devika! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      No foo-foo raincoat for Maggie, Zulma! She roughs it just like her owner. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy! I wish I remembered dreams but then when would I have the time to write about all o them? lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thanks for stopping by and yes, Go Sox!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Bill your great mind works wonders with the series of mailbags and other stories too.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree, Dora. I've seen that on many of my short stories.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I'm mighty glad to hear that, Eric. Thanks a bunch, buddy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for sharing those, Rinita. Good recommendations.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      3 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      Out of curiosity, Bill, does Maggie have a little doggie rain coat too? Or does she prefer to rough it like a real dog?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Devika, I would email you if I had an answer, but truly I never know what it takes to make HP happy...1250 words, three photos,and two videos. That has been my winning combination and it continues to work.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Zulma! The weather has suddenly changed and the real Olympia has finally appeared. Time for the rain coat.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree with you, Venkatachari M! I know o no other way to adequately portray time passing in so few words.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point, Lori! I loved that about that book...somehow, Harper Lee gave us hope at the end.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      It is always interesting to discover what some people find to be interesting and others not so much. Writers and artists are much the same in my opinion. Some of my most creative art ideas have come from my dreams.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You may have stumped me on that on, Rasma, but I'll do some research on it. Thanks for the question and good luck with that book.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the Hemingway trivia, MizB. I did not know that, so thank you! As for the Advantage II, I'm afraid that might ruin the show. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, they are a thing for sure, Rodric, and quite ingenious if I do say so..for sure check one out.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Too funny, Mary, white bread and Disney....oh yes, I remember those days for sure.

      Enjoy the heck out of your week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Heidi, the Jurassic Park reference is one I think of often. Nice catch, my friend. Have a great week, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing your process, Kristen. Best wishes on that novel you are resurrecting.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Been away for a few days so have some catching up to do. I like your opening to this mailbag. I was not aware that the flea circus started in Italy so I learned something new today. Have a great week. Go Red Sox.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Bill. I love your perspective on book endings. The plot is one thing, but good writing is not limited to jolly stories. Sometimes on HubPages, readers comment on the happy outcome and seem to ignore the writing skill in the presentation. All great answers!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The worst thing about series on film or in a book is that you know for sure the leading character will always make it. I would not change that though.

      I definitely do not see things like normal people. I get some mighty strange looks if I comment on them too much. Again I would not change that.

      And as many conclude time changes differently for each of us.

      I very much enjoyed this mailbag.

      Thanks

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      4 weeks ago

      The flea circus comparison to writing was great. This was a brand new concept for me, I intend to do a research of my own.

      'Mill on the floss' - George Eliot, 'Villette' - Bronte, some of my favorites of great writing but tragic ending.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Liz! Always a pleasure.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Peace and love, Manatita,always my brother!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, I think it's a fascinating approach to a book...ending first....and I also think it calls for some masterful writing to do it well...so best of luck with that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Emese, I don't think I've ever seen one in person, but I remember seeing one on tv when I was young, and I thought it was fascinating.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you William! Most definitely, in that regard, books should imitate life me thinks.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Bill just a question about my hubs. I have tried effortlessly to have it featured and just so difficult. Each attempt I fail. Please how can you help me fix these issues or any suggestions? email fancy1606@gmail.com

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      4 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      No worries, Bill. The judges that did turn up couldn't elaborate on marking time in a mini-saga either. lol

      Yes, flashbacks can be tricky. I remember a character in one of Stephen King's novel was rehashing old events while repairing a roof. King marked the passage of time by simply having the character look at his watch at the end of his reverie and noting that 45 minutes had passed.

      I think happy endings are great as long as it doesn't insult the reader's intelligence. Your example from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a perfect example. Yes, it would have been satisfying to hear a 'Not Guilty' verdict, tears of joy and high fives all around, however, given the time and place, it would have been unrealistic.

      Thanks for the input, Bill and, if the weather is still holding up, have a lovely walk with Maggie.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      It is one more wonderful mailbag.

      You shared those wonderful thoughts about the flea circus that I never came across. Now, I learned about it by reading the post at Wikipedia and also by watching some videos in the youtube.com just some minutes back. It is an amazing fact really most of us do not know. Thanks for sharing that with us.

      The task of indicating the passage of time in 30 words is really a challenging one posed by Zulma. I do not think any better way than mentioning it clearly like "after 30 years..." or "it was 30 years since..." so that you can tell the passage of so much time within 3 or 4 words and cover the story in 30 words

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      4 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great mailbag questions and anwsers. I can relate to Ann's and Zulma's particularly. You mentioned To Kill A Mocking Bird in your answer to my question and it is my all time favorite book and movie. A brilliant work. And the ending was not tidy but it worked for me. There was a little reference to the future that there would be struggles, but somehow it feels to me like there will be learning and growth in the future and Atticus being their father you know will be a stable presence in their lives as well as learning from his wisdom. Thanks Bill.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      4 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      Most interesting and I must say unusual since it began with a flea circus. Now I must also find my own flea circus. I am in the process of working on my second book of poems. So far the publishing company doing the formatting sent me what they had completed unfortunately the PDF for the paperback had quite a few corrections to be made and I have sent it back. He also sent me the Kindle version which on my PC translate to as a MOBI File. Well, I told him I hoped he had a copy of the Kindle version so he could correct that too. Once both these are sent back since I do not have a Kindle is there any way I can open the Kindle file and take a look at it myself?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      4 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      A flea circus, now you've got us all scratching -- our heads, but a little Advantage II or Revolution should do the trick. At least it works on my cats. For us here in Arkansas, it is of interest to know that Hemingway wrote part of A Farewell to Arms while living with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, in Piggott, Arkansas. He met her in Paris, but her wealthy parents were living in Arkansas and supported him while he wrote. The city has the Ernest Hemingway Museum in his honor. I guess I'll have to make a point of visiting it someday.

      https://www.today.com/popculture/no-farewell-hemin...

      I didn't really have anything to comment this week except that you are still doing a great job with the mailbag, so I thought since you mentioned Hemingway, I'd add to the bone pile. Have a good rest of the week, my friend.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      4 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Thank you for educating me on the muse. I have one! You cannot help but teach. It is in your soul. You may have retired, but you still educate.

      I did not know flea circuses were a real thing. I've only seen them in cartoons. Now I need to see one!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      4 weeks ago from Brazil

      I was raised on white bread and The Wonderful World of Disney, so everything has to have a happy ending. I can't stand it when the main character dies at the end. I tend not to watch the Coen Brothers, as they don't stick to the Pollyanna rose tinted themed world I choose to live in.

      Hope you have a great week.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Hey, it's still Monday and I'm in the Mailbag. Okay, I'm feeling accomplished so far this week.

      Re: Flea Circus. Whenever I think of the flea circus, I think of the dialogue between John Hammond and Ellie in Jurassic Park where she tells him he's still running the flea circus. Okay, random musing.

      Re: Rocky Ending. I don't think a story ending has to be happy, just satisfying in terms of giving the audience closure.

      That's all I got today. I'll forego the YouTube watch of the flea circus. Got too much going on this week. Hope it's a good one for you!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      4 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Better late than never, Bill. And I've missed last week's mailbag. I might have to go back to that one this week. Per Rodric's mailbag question, my muse mainly comes from dreams 85%. The other 15% comes from TV/movies, novels, and the news. As for Ann's question, that has happened to me too. I'm currently "rehabbing" a novel I wrote 6 years ago and changed the first chapter by cutting some old boring stuff out. (My 3 betas loved it!)

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 weeks ago from UK

      As ever, a fascinating and useful article. I especially liked your switching of muse for inspiration.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I like that one, Pop. I'm scratching as we speak.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I guess I'm stuck with this mind, so it's nice that it entertains others.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I would never think you were trivializing the Mailbag. Some weeks are like that.

      I wish you a brilliantly foggy day as well. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 weeks ago from london

      Ha ha. A bit like what the saints call Maya, this flea thing. We take the illusion to be real, when in fact it's a mere shadow.

      England, you say? Worth seeing, perhaps. I'll let you know. Halloween soon, I suppose. Scary! Peace, Bro.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I'm slightly surprised by the number of readers who didn't know about flea circuses. What the heck? I thought they were rather famous, the stuff of legends. Shows you what I know. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I absolutely love that quote, Pamela. Thank you for sharing.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      4 weeks ago from Texas

      Oh, geez, you just made me literally laugh out loud reading your opening statement. It's amazing to think there is another mind out there that works in a similar fashion to my own. Hahaha. I knew there was a reason we get along even when I spring the most random of things on you. ;) I like the observant comment from your wife. It seems to me that a lot of people who enjoy writing or, in my case, are told they are "deep thinkers" are simply seeing things differently than the next guy.

      I'm intrigued by your answer to the question about happy endings versus sad ones. I've been working on a particular story for years now on and off that I already know will involve a sad ending. See, it starts off at the end and then backtracks, so that's a given. I'm just concerned with whether or not I can do the middle justice as I bring the tale full circle back the beginning. If that makes sense. Hahaha. Maybe I should say bring the tale back to where I started telling it.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      4 weeks ago

      Fleas and writers both have an itch that needs to be scratched.

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      Emese Fromm 

      4 weeks ago from The Desert

      In one of the novels I read as a child (in Hungarian, that's all I read at the time), I remember the author writing about a flea circus at some point. While he was funny, he used it as a metaphor for something more serious, though I can't remember what or which book I am talking about. But I still remember the way I imagined the flea circus, though I was sure it was a figment of the writer's imagination. But I asked around and I found out that they were a real thing. So that's how I know what you're talking about when you say flea circus. :)

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      4 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi, Bill. Another great week of Q's and A's. Referring to Lori's question. I have seen movies (not quite the same as reading) that ended tragically. The ending left me feeling cheated at first. Then I began to realize that's life. Tragedy takes place every day. It's in the papers. It's on TV. Why should a book always have to have a happy ending? Just my rambling thoughts, but your answer was great. Thanks for another informative week.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The link between a flea circus and writing is very interesting, Bill. I love the way your mind works.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Melissa, I will assume you have seen the new "Halloween" movie then. That would be a must-see for you, right? Thanks for the compliment about my brilliantly quirky mind...I happen to love quirky.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      4 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! You have a brilliantly quirky mind! A fleas circus....never would have crossed my mind... until now, of course.

      In regards to the mail questions, I really like the "not-so-happily-ever-after" endings. But that might be attributed to the fact that I am a fan of the horror genre--lots of not-so-nice endings....lol

      Have a great and productive week!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, you have my mind racing this morning. Artificial fleas, and then I think of drones. A scene marking the passage of time, and then I recall the series "24". Happy endings? Actually, I view them as contrived and unnatural. In life, there is never a point in time when all of the loose ends are fashioned into a neat-tidy bow. Create excitement out of nothing and display showmanship. I think I'll bake a souffle for dinner.

      I don't mean to trivialize this mailbag. The questions were so random, and you can only answer what you are given (and although you have a brilliant imagination, I don't believe that you're making this up). It was a fun ride. Thanks for allowing me to sit in the passenger seat. As always, have a great day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you are greatly appreciated. Thank you and enjoy that flea circus.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Verlie, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the question. It's a good one and I'll tackle it next week. In the meantime, look up flea circuses on YouTube, and enjoy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ann! I think they said the one in London is only open at certain times for certain events, but perhaps that information was outdated.

      I'll have to look up MIchael Bentine. Thank you for the recommendation.

      As always, wishing you a spectacular week ahead.

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts, Eman! Blessings to you always!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 weeks ago from sunny Florida

      O Bill...never didappointed when I stop here. Your writing always causes me to 'read on'. Flea circuses, who knew? I will have to research them now because now I am curious. And I totally agree..brilliant writing does overshadow an unhappy ending. You know, your writing has a way of making me think...and I like that. Take care of you...blessings and love on the way via Angels this morning.ps

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      My oldest grandson's birthday was yesterday, and he loves philosphy, computer programing etc. He laid a Nietzsche quote on me while we briefly discussed politics. Hope I have this right, "Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn't hear the music". Just maybe writing is dancing to your own tune.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      There's always something to ponder about writing when I read your mailbag, Bill. It is always encouraging, inviting me to keep on, listen to my muse. Stories always come to me when I look around while driving or walking or watching people from my balcony but they are often forgotten when not written immediately. Time to watch one of those flea circuses.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      Dear Bill, fleas circus? Oh man! I've never heard of this before. Enjoyed reading writers' questions once again. All helpful as usual. I have a question today. I recently wrote a Sonnet, and had a very good poet read it and fine tune a couple of lines to correct the missing, or extra beats. Now I'm wondering if I should, or how I should acknowledge her editorial assistance? Just throwing that out there.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      There might be indeed, Rochelle! LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, you are better off pondering my random thoughts from a distance. lol Happy Monday my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 weeks ago from SW England

      Hi bill! You seem to have a similar mind to mine! Thanks for answering my question. I used to be stubborn and stick with what I envisaged but not any more; going with the flow is much more fascinating, exciting and usually totally unexpected!

      There used to be a comedian called Michael Bentine (one of the Goons) who had a television show in which he featured a 'flea' circus. It was mechanical of course and was presented with an hysterical commentary as only he could do. I was enthralled! Not sure I would want the real thing though. I know nothing about the one in London.

      Long live our muses on this sunny Monday and beyond!

      Ann

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      4 weeks ago from Egypt

      Welcome to my mind. I love the circus. I was watching circus shows on television when I was a kid and I was very impressed and I was watching other programs at the local level in Egypt. Cirque is based on talents and individual skills. Flea Circus depends on the skill and genius of imagination to convince others that what is happening is real and this is harder but I still prefer the traditional circus shows with some renovation. I always learn new writing skills when I read your articles, Mr. Holland, and thank you for this.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      4 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      If a story makes you itch, there might be fleas.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Nicely stated, Rochelle. Yes, they were clever, but that's about it. I want some more bang for my buck.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      That’s something I’ve never before pondered: a flea circus. Interesting random thoughts you have going on. I’d also prefer a realistic end or twist at the end, like in “Of Mice and Men.” Happy kinda lets me down as overly neat and packaged.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Janine, and Happy Monday to you.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      4 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      I remember seeing a flea circus at an amusement park side show when I was a child. It was obvious to me that there were no fleas, it was only a complex machine.

      I went in as a skeptic and came out feeling cheated. Perhaps it was a lack of imagination on my part, but this is a good analogy for storytelling. Convincing the reader/observer that there are fleas requires more than good mechanics.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      4 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I agree with Bev and don't question it; just go with where your mind takes you. That said wishing you a wonderful Monday and week ahead now, too :)

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