The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 233
I Don’t Have Time to Waste
At least once each day those words cross my mind: time is running out, Billy Boy; you don’t have time to waste.
I was told that as a young teen, at my grandmother’s funeral. Expressing sorrow to my dad, why do people have to die, that teenage angst type of mourning, he told me: “We are all dying, Bill. Living is the process of dying from the day you are born. There is no time to waste!”
And so, each day, I take a look at my mental “to-do” list and dive into it. I feel like a shark on some days, unable to stop because to stop is to die. Some of you understand that and applaud its wisdom. Some of you think I’ve lost my mind. LOL Either one is possible!
And so it is Friday morning, 7:56, and time for the Mailbag to be created for the 233rd consecutive week.
Thank you for joining me!
Updating Book Covers
From Mike: “OK here is a question I am curious what you think. I have wondered if updating the book covers of aging titles has any merit. I guess I could put that in the form of a question, but I think you get it.”
Mike, good question! I’ve noticed major publishing firms do that with some of their 2nd and 3rd run printings of a book, so obviously they feel it has merit, but I think that merit is greatly discounted when you are talking about Average Joes like you and me. Would it make any difference if we changed the book cover on Amazon? Would it increase our book sales one iota? I doubt it, but here’s my opinion on it: what do you have to lose by doing it? How can it possibly hurt sales, for you and I, to change the book cover?
I think it’s a good idea! If I had the time to devote to it, and cared just a little bit more about book sales, I would do it.
By the way, if any of you out there want a book cover done for you, Mike here does good work and has done all but two of my novels and novellas. Hit him up but I need to mention he does charge for his work.
From Eric of course: “Long way around; How much self editing do you do first. I hate "bidding" against myself.”
Eric, bidding against yourself has to be better than betting against yourself, right?
I usually self-edit a book three times. I could do more. I could do less. The truth is I had to set a random limit on editing or I would worry a book to death and never publish the damned thing. So for me it is three times and publish!
With articles for HP the number is two, and really those edits are just run-throughs to check on spelling more than anything else.
I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, Eric, so I have had to train myself to accept less-than-perfect with my writings. Otherwise there would be nothing to read from me.
A Personal Struggle
From Bob: “I'm going to put you on the spot with this question, Bill. You know how my heart is in short fiction. I have been struggling for two years to write a novel. I hate the process. The story is worthy, and after all this time, I should finish it. But you and others have said before that there is no market for short fiction. Do I just bow to the fate of writing for the rest of my life, for I must, yet finding no audience for my work?”
His name is not really Bob; I changed it to protect the innocent, but the question is one many of us can relate to.
Bob is a short story writer. He loves writing short stories. He loves writing, period, but he really loves writing short stories. The problem is, there is not much of a market for short stories. Bob knew this going in, but I suspect, like many of us, he figured he would still attract a following and make a meager income by writing his stories.
That was not the reality and so our friend has a dilemma.
To me it is no dilemma. Bob really doesn’t need a writing income. He has a full-time job and his bills get paid every month. Writing is what he does for enjoyment and that, my friends, is the reason why I don’t think there is any dilemma. Bob is a very good writer. I’ve read quite a few of his short stories over the years, and they are entertaining and high quality.
In other words, Bob is doing what he enjoys doing, and he is entertaining others.
Why would he change?
Forget about that novel, Bob, and get busy on your next short story. I need a fix!
From Rodric: “Here is another question for the next mailbag. How do you know if your voice is appealing enough? What if people hear your voice and it turns them off?”
I laughed when I first read this question, but then I realized it was a very valid question.
Where do we turn for an honest appraisal? Family won’t be brutally honest with us. Good friends won’t be. Even on HP, after seven years, I have yet to see one person say “I can’t stand your writing. Your voice really turns me off,” and yet there have been quite a few bad writers on HP over those seven years.
So where do you turn for brutal honesty?
If I didn’t have the money to pay an editor to give me an honest opinion, I think I would turn to online writer forums. There you can share writings and, on many forums, actually get an opinion not shaded by friendship. Just beware of this before you do it: make sure you really want brutal honesty!
That last sentence wasn’t aimed at you, Rodric, but a general statement for all. I was in this position once a couple years ago. An online friend asked me to read her manuscript, and she asked me to set aside our friendship and tell her like it is.
I did, and she no longer speaks to me!
Lesson learned for both of us.
And for the record, Rodric, your voice is not annoying.
A Side Note
So I was talking to Bev the other day, telling her about my latest novel, and I explained to her that I still didn’t have an ending for it despite the fact I’m halfway done with it. After she got over the shock of that news, she made a suggestion and you know what? It was perfect! She had the absolute perfect conclusion for the fifth book in the Shadow series, and I couldn’t be happier.
You just never know where inspiration will come from.
I Gotta Go; Time Is A’wastin’
I’m seventy for God’s sake. I wonder when I’ll determine that it’s all right to waste some time?
If you want more discussions about writing, you can follow my blog if you have a hankering. Here is the link: https://artistrywithwords.com/
Let’s close with Dan Fogelberg’s “Along the Road”. . . it seems appropriate . . .
“Cursing the quest
Measureless nights forebode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road.
Along the road
Your steps may tumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way.”
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”