The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 238
Happy New Year; Now Let’s Get on With It!
Speaking as just one man, thank the gods the holidays are over? And who in their right mind would schedule a holiday in the middle of a work week? LOL Talk about diabolical! For two solid weeks now my schedule has been completely topsy-turvy, thank you very much. I am so happy to get back to normal.
No, my name is not Scrooge. I’m just a guy who needs structure.
And no, I do not do resolutions, unless you count trying to improve as a human being and a writer, but those two are with me 24/7, 365!
Let’s do this thing we call the Mailbag!
Embrace the Past
From DreamOn: “My question to you among a world of others. Why do people try to bury their past. Run away from it as fast as they can. When their past helped mold them into the person they are today. Why don't more people embrace the day. I think I covered what I wanted to say.”
DreamOn, this is a question better suited for a psychiatrist. I’ve seen it all my life, even in my immediate family. There were parts of my mother’s life she would never talk about…period, end of story. I suspect it is shame with most people, or by not talking they hope to lessen the pain. I can understand that motivation, to keep things hidden, but it is a slippery slope to navigate because secrets can eat you alive. Shame darn near killed me, so I get it . . . but having come out the other side of that dark tunnel, I can truthfully say I much prefer living with the truth.
From Mr. Happy: “So, I was thinking about my last message to You and how my question was not really much of a question. I suppose there were some questions among the frustration with bad writers, or bad writing but I tried to focus on those thoughts in the last 24 hrs and I came-up with one, specific question: "what responsibilities do writers have, if any at all?
“I just read a piece of writing on Hub-pages yesterday making all sorts of claims and no source cited. There were no proper quotations, or citations. This to me is quite infuriating. I do not go easy on things of that nature. In my world, there are no "alternative facts". Anyway ... I'm stopping here before You hear more of my frustrations but I'm happy I narrowed down the question about responsibilities. I'm interested what You think.”
Mr. Happy, what I think, and what is reality, are miles apart, and I find that sad and yes, infuriating.
I’m reading a fascinating book right now by a man who was a reporter for the NY Times during the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, and he speaks to this exact problem. Most newspapers today cannot afford to have reporters out there doing in-depth investigations, the sort of thing that might take six months to a year to thoroughly investigate. Consequently, the really important investigations do not get covered by reputable reporters, and what we are left with is left-or-right-wing nut jobs writing op-ed pieces from their man caves which have no veracity whatsoever, and we have millions of people reading those pieces of garbage and believing them to be the truth.
Of course we see it here on HP. HubPages is just a microcosm of a larger problem. It is much too easy to publish dog doo-doo rather than actually investigating for the facts.
Do I believe writers have a responsibility to the truth? Most definitely! The kind of false muckraking we see today drives me crazy, but I’m afraid we are going to see more and more of it, because the internet has given all the world an accessible stage from which to rant, and has opened the door to yellow journalism, and that door cannot be closed. The internet is a giant soapbox, and the disreputable will use that soapbox to say anything they feel like saying, the truth be damned.
Depression and Writing
From Rodric: “ I know you don't have all the answers, but I will ask anyway because I think you could point me in the right direction if you cannot answer yourself: How can I use my knowledge of mental illness to support my writing? Did not Ernest Hemingway use his trials with depression to produce art?”
That’s a tough one, Rodric! I wouldn’t be so sure I can point you in the right direction on that one. I did a similar thing regarding alcoholism, for awhile. I started a blog about alcoholism, I wrote probably ten articles on HP about it . . .and that’s about all I did.
There are, of course, online support groups talking about mental illness. Chat rooms, that sort of thing. There are national magazines about that topic, so I guess you could submit articles to those magazines, or guest blog on someone’s mental illness blog.
It is very difficult to build a platform about any topic. It takes time and dogged determination. Is it that important to you? If so, get started. Build a foundation, frame it, and put a roof on, from the ground up, no shortcuts.
And if you can figure out that metaphor you win a stuffed animal. lol
So Many Hubbie Awards
From Trish: “How does it feel, Bill, to have won the Best All-Around Hubber Award for six years in a row? Quite frankly that kind of blows me away. Congratulations, by the way!”
Trish, I am humbled, and I am also embarrassed. I am humbled because each of those awards came from my peers, so they mean a great deal to me. I’m embarrassed because I don’t like notoriety of any sort. I’m perfectly comfortable in the background doing my thing, wading through the deep grass without my head showing.
One other thing I wish concerning the Hubbies: I wish the HP staff would take it a bit more seriously. I thought some of their categories this year were ridiculous. If they were shooting for funny they missed the mark. Those awards were, at one time, a really big deal to HP writers. This was, at one time, a very tight-knit community where everyone rooted for each other and shared in each other’s successes. The HP staff could go a long way towards making this a community again. They could make things like the Hubbies a big deal, complete with awards video and some sort of personal statement by the HP staff or management. Instead they feel the need to make a joke of it.
I think that’s too bad. There are a lot of talented writers here on HP who spend a great amount of time writing articles and poems, pieces which make HP money. I think HP needs to reciprocate in some way other than paying pennies on the dollar to those writers.
But what do I know?
Sign of Success
From Flourish: “Comments are often a sign of success that you are good enough, but do you ever become overwhelmed or exhausted with the volume of them?”
Flourish, a year ago I would have said no to this question. I have always loved comments. I can still remember the very first comment I received, seven years ago, and how important that comment was to me. Every single comment I receive, and I’ve received a whole bunch of them, is important to me.
Having said that, I feel frustrated that I don’t have the time to respond in-depth to each one; I respond to each one, but often it is a quick fly-by of a response, and I’m embarrassed to say that.
Hopefully I’ll find the time to do a better job of commenting in 2019, because I think comments are important in building community here on HP, and we need more community here on HP and in the world in general.
Time to Run
And that’s what it feels like lately, for me: always running, trying to get too many things done in too few minutes.
Or maybe, because I am now seventy, I am feeling the natural time crunch of a man running out of minutes.
Where are the psychologists when we need them? LOL
I wish, for you, a brilliant week ahead, and I hope 2019 is all that you want it to be. I leave you with The Boss and “Born to Run,” just because . . .
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin' out over the line
Oh-oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”