The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 234
Time Marches On
I never know what I’m going to say in these introductions until Friday morning when I finally have time to answer the questions. I just assume my muse has pondered the task which lies ahead, and she will handle it when it is time.
Four-and-a-half years . . . that’s how long I’ve been doing the Mailbag. During that time a couple friends have died, I found out who my biological family was (all dead), and quite a few acquaintances have also died. Now before you start thinking I’m obsessed with death, let me assure you I am not. But it’s a bit strange, this “getting older” thing. It’s strange being the “last man standing,” as it were. All family dead, most of my childhood friends dead, so many of the entertainers and musicians I grew up with dead . . . and here I sit, in my little writing studio, still kicking out words and feeling like I’m twenty instead of seventy.
It’s just strange!
I don’t sit and ponder the why me of it all. It’s just the way the pickle squirts, as my dad was fond of saying. “Them’s the breaks, Billy Boy, some are born today, some die, and the rest of us are killing time until it’s our turn.”
Dad was partially right. Them’s the breaks, but I’m not killing time. I’m busier than I’ve ever been and loving every minute of it, so let’s get this Mailbag thing going.
Short Story Success
From Ann: “For that short story question: would it not work if one published a book on a theme and had short stories around that theme, with some sort of link like a character or a place? So it could be a novel in disguise... What do you think? I've only just had that idea and I think I might use it myself!! Where did it come from? My muse of course! Seriously, though, is it workable? Sort of an easy way to create chapters!”
Ann, it is not only workable, but I’ve seen it done by several of our HP friends. Heck, I actually did that with my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.” Probably 30% of that novel is pieced-together short stories I had written for HP. I just glued them together into a story line and published it. Easy-peasy! Not really, but it sounds easy now, four years later.
Yes, Ann, your idea has merit and I think you should follow your own advice.
Chris, you are the one who originally asked that question. Are you listening?
When Is Criticism Valid?
From Mary: “Which leads me to a question. How do you know if a criticism of your writing is valid?”
This appears to be such a simple little question, but it is packed with angst and hurt feelings. Lol
I do think that getting someone else to critique your work, especially a novel, before publishing is very helpful. The problem arises, however, regarding the validity of the critique. Most of us ask this same question. If you have friends and family read it, and they don’t want to hurt your feelings, they most likely will not give you an honest critique. And what about those negative critiques? Are we willing to listen to them with our hurt feelings?
Mary, there are quite a few writer groups online where members are invited and encouraged to share their works. After the sharing, members then critique the works. My opinion: if you hear the same thing from several of those members, there is a good chance you should pay attention. The beauty of those online “critique clubs) is that they are comprised of strangers who have no agenda regarding your writing. They are there to share, and receive, honest feedback and as such can probably be trusted more than friends and family.
That’s my two-cents worth on that matter.
Other Writing Sites
From Rodric: “Okay, not to be a hog here, but I do have another question. I am trying to expand my writing past Hubpages. I have checked out several writing sites, looking for ANOTHER Hubpages! I, of course, cannot find one. What would you recommend as a way to expand?”
Your timing is bad, Rodric! At one time, about five years ago, there were quite a few options similar to HP. Most of them, however, have fallen by the wayside. There are a couple I’ll mention, though, so you don’t feel like I’m ignoring your question.
Try the Writers Café . . . writerscafe.org I think . . . you might like what they have to offer. And there is also a group made up of HP writers called The Creative Exiles. Check them out, all good people, many friends of mine and an easy site to post on. I’m sure they would love to have a new member.
And, of course, I’m sure someone will have another suggestion in the comments section below.
Those Pesky Links and Hp
From Rodric: “Another question: Each time I write an article in a series where I want to guide the reader to another article with a link at the end or in the beginning, my article is unfeatured on Hubpages. I wrote two articles yesterday that became featured when I removed the link. I have literally over 200 articles with links that are not unfeatured for the same reason. How do I keep my articles featured when they are part of a series? Do I need to recap each article previously and leave off the link or is there some other way? I am starting to believe it may be certain moderators who dislike linking because again, most articles are featured with the link.”
Rodric, I’m afraid you aren’t going to be very happy with my answer. I don’t link on my articles simply because it was such a hassle, early on, trying to do it correctly that I just gave up. Besides, I don’t much care. Lol Seriously, this is just not on my give-a-damn meter.
That is not to discount your concerns, but rather to tell you I understand your frustration. I found this video for you to check out, and I have no doubt someone will help you in the comment section, but linking is not my strong suit on HP.
The whole featured/not featured thing has me totally confused, so I tend to not pay much attention to it all. I just write. If they want to feature my work, fine. If not, also fine with me. That’s just how I rock n roll, my friend.
Sorry I can’t be more help. Hopefully someone will have a good answer down below.
More Lyrics From Fogelberg
I’m all done, so let’s enjoy a master songwriter and some more of his beautiful lyrics. This is from Dan Fogelberg and his song “Leader of the Band:”
A quiet man of music
Denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once
But his music wouldn't wait
He earned his love
A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls
Took me years to understand
The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band
Have a great week!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”