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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 230

Updated on November 12, 2018

The Holidays Are Coming, the Holidays Are Coming!

I’m not as excited as that subheading makes it appear. In truth, I’m not a big fan of the holiday season. My approach to the holidays is to grab hold of my butt, tightly, and ride it all out for six weeks.

There are a variety of reasons for this dark approach to what should be a happy time, and most of them are related to psychological and emotional stimuli from the past. No matter how hard we may try, it is practically impossible to run away from the past, or so I’ve found.

Growing up I loved the holidays. It was a magical time of year and my fairy tale childhood embraced that magic. But my dad died when I was twenty, during the holidays, and his death seemed to swallow up the joy of that time in following years. Then you can toss in my alcoholism, and how it affected holidays, and guilt, and sadness, and my entire family then dying, and on and on and on we go.

So I do the best I can from mid-November to the first of the year. Luckily Bev is very understanding and loving. We made a deal years back where I do as much as I can to support her happy holiday time with her kids, and she gives me the space I need to just make it through another season. It works for us and that’s all that’s important.

So let’s get started on this week’s questions, shall we?

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room!


From Shannon: “So....buddy, ol' pal....I believe it's been a couple years since you issued a challenge, judging by the date on the one I did for your last challenge. Think you'll do another one any time soon?”

Shannon, this is an easy question to answer: NO! I really would love to do that. I happen to love challenges, issuing them and taking part in those issued by others, but I have to prioritize if I’m ever going to publish another novel, and dropping challenges was part of that prioritization I’m afraid.

My HP friend Ann has issued some dandies of late, as I’m sure you know, so I’ll let her be the torch-bearer on the challenge front.

That and Which

From Linda: “Here's a simple question with perhaps not so easy an answer. Are the words "that" and "which" interchangeable, and if not, what is the rule?”

Shame on you, Linda! I answered this question five weeks ago. And where were you, young lady? LOL I’m teasing you and I’m sure you know that. I would be very happy to answer this question once more because it is a question many, many writers need a refresher on.

Here's an easy way to remember the difference between that and which: If removing the words that follow would change the meaning of the sentence, use "that." Otherwise, "which" is fine. Some people will argue that the rules are more complex and flexible than this, but I like to make things as simple as possible, so I say that you use that before a restrictive clause and which before everything else.

Example . .. dogs that bark frighten me . . . . . . . . . . and . . .dogs, which have very unique personalities, are a joy for me.

Wordpress Blogs

From Lori: “Hi Bill, I notice your blog is with Wordpress. I very much want to do the same and started but I found it so complicated I gave up. Was it easy for you? Do you know of a resource that explains it for extreme tech dummies like me?”

Hi Lori! WordPress is easy for me, but I’m not sure it is an easy site to navigate or I’ve just used it for so long it has become easy. Yes, I use it exclusively, and truth be known I only work on customer websites which are WordPress. I literally, during any given week, will post about twenty-five articles on a WordPress site. So yes, I find it easy to use.

Without really knowing what is giving you trouble, it is hard to answer your question. I’ll attach a couple videos which will hopefully help you out, and if you want to email me a specific question I’ll be happy to answer that as well.

And if you follow this link I think you will find an in-depth tutorial on how to start a blog on WordPress. I read the entire tutorial and found it to be pretty clear.

Political Writing

From Shaloo: “And talking of politics, have you ever written something related to politics? A political piece can give rise to much discussion and trolling. How to deal with it?”

Shaloo, your question made me realize just how long I’ve been here on HubPages, and also the fact that many of my followers have no idea of my “firebrand” days on HP. There was a time, four or five years ago, when I wrote almost exclusively political articles and social commentary articles. Three or four times each week I could be counted on to pick up the torch for some topic and ride my trusty steed into battle.

But I stopped! It just became too tiring and scarring for me, emotionally speaking, and I had to move on. Writing about sex-trafficking, or sexual abuse on Indian reservations, those types of articles can take a toll on a person, and it was definitely taking a toll on me.

Is your question how does one deal with the discussions, or with writing the articles? If it is the latter, I dealt with it by eventually quitting. If it is the former, I dealt with negative comments in a very generic way. I simply thanked the person for their comment and opinion and that was all. I refused to be dragged down into a nasty online argument which no one could win. I didn’t join HP to argue and be divisive. I joined HP to help build a writer’s community, and even today, after all these years, I have remained true to that course. I will not debate politics or social issues on HP. Period! End of story! And I also will not promote, nor condone, negativity and rudeness.


There are quite a few trolls on HP, and they are not worth my effort or time.

No more for me, thank you very much!
No more for me, thank you very much!

Why Hp?

From Brian: “Bill, you’ve been here on HP for what, six or seven years? Why do you stay here? I hear so many other writers complaining about HP, how it is hard to make money, how the editors ruin their work, etc…why do you stick around?”

Brian, that’s an easy question for me to answer: this is my writing family, and family supports family.

I don’t get involved in all that negativity. I pretty much ignore the HP staff and editors. I’m not on HP, nor have I ever been here, to make money. I’m just a writer who likes hanging out with other writers, and it is as simple as that for me. I wouldn’t even be a writer today if it were not for the support I received here on HP long ago, and that support meant the world to me.

Again, for me, it’s as simple as the concept of loyalty.

Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays in Advance

I might as well say it now and quit denying and avoiding it. I do hope all of you have a safe, happy, and blessed holiday season. Thank you so much for your friendship and support.

And if you have a question for the Mailbag, you can either include it in the comment section below, or you can email me at

Thank you all!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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