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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 243

Updated on February 11, 2019

Be Careful What You Wish For

A week ago I was musing about the winter that wasn’t here in Olympia, how mild our winter had been, record high temps, all that nonsense. Since then our first snow arrived, another snowstorm is due in this afternoon (Friday the 8th) and yet another one due Monday. It appears winter was just a little slow in arriving, because the Pacific Northwest now looks like a winter wonderland.

Shows you how very little I know.

By the way, my chickens are not happy with the snow and fifteen degree temps . . . not happy but doing all right . . . chickens are hardy birds, so no worries on that front. And our dog Maggie loves the snow and is oblivious to the cold, so there you go.

An odd lead in to the Mailbag . . . you never know what you are going to get in the Mailbag . . . shall we get started with the questions?

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

Writing and Reading

From Shaloo: “As most of the writers are voracious readers too. I wonder how much you read everyday and who are your favorite authors. Any books you would recommend to your readers?”

Gosh, Shaloo, I used to read quite a bit. For whatever, reason, this past year or so, I’ve pretty much stopped reading. I think I’m just too tired at night to read, truth be known. My favorite time to read has always been around ten or so at night, but now I open a book at ten and fall asleep by ten-fifteen. LOL

When I was reading I was reading for an hour or two each night, and almost always mysteries. I cut my mystery teeth on John D. McDonald and his Travis McGee character. I then moved through the Spenser series, the Scudder series, and the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke. You name a mystery writer and I have probably read him or her. But now I tend to gravitate towards non-fiction. I think I’m trying to gather as much knowledge as possible in the time I have remaining on this planet.

My favorite author will always be Harper Lee!

Getting Cocky?

From Liz: “Interesting topics and great advice. Should we be worrying if, as writers, we lose the self doubt? Does that mean we are becoming over-confident and taking less care with our writing? I can see how planning is key for consistency in a series. Thanks for the taster of your new novel.”

Liz, this is actually a fascinating question. What happens when we are no longer apprehensive about publishing? Does it mean anything? I really don’t think so. I’d hate to say yes, it is over-confidence, and then hurt someone’s feelings. And I do believe we can find a comfort level and still strive for the very best.

There’s nothing wrong with confidence, but there is a great deal wrong with complacency. Always strive to be the best you can be and that effort will be reflected in your writings.

The Good in Everyone

From Linda: “Here's a question. Does everyone, no matter how depraved they are, how rotten and loathsome, have a smidgen of good in them, something that makes them a tiny bit human and not 100 percent monster?”

Sheez, Linda, why don’t you get all serious? LOL

If I’m not mistaken, one of the traits of a sociopath is the complete absence of human emotion and empathy. Does that make them a monster or simply a sick human being?

I was watching a documentary about the BTK killer in the Midwest. This guy completely fooled his daughter and friends and church members. I mean they had no clue that this guy was brutally killing people. They believed him to be a loving father, husband, and friend. So what was he, a great actor, or someone with a sliver of good in him?

I don’t like the word “monster,” but I do not believe they are even a tiny bit human. I think they are the consummate actors with very twisted brains . . . no feelings . . . no emotions . . . no empathy . . . no compassion.

Is there good in everyone?
Is there good in everyone?

Filing System

From Eric: “Now Bill do not take this wrong but you seem quite fastidious. My self on the other hand is more "pull it out of thin air". There is room for both our fashions I believe. But help me out on organization. How do you store your writings? My organization skills stinkaroo. (I know this kind of is more about computer use than writing but if I have trouble in this area I get all confused about order and it scrambles my creative mind) Perhaps just age.”

Shoot, Eric, I’ve been called a lot worse than fastidious. That’s mild compared to what some have called me.

How do I store my writing? In files on the computer1 I have files labeled for all manner of writings and organizations and topics and whatever. It would probably appear random to some, but it works for me. My computer desktop page looks like a blizzard of files.

Resurrecting Tobias

From Peggy: “The first book of yours that I have read is Resurrecting Tobias. It is such a fabulous book! The characters stay with the reader long after the last pages of the book are closed. I would highly recommend reading it to everyone! I am guessing that a significant part of who you are as a person was incorporated into the character of Toby. Am I correct in that assumption? If you did readings as Toby did in many places around the country, I would envision many of the same things being spoken out of your lips.”

Peggy, thank you so much for those kind words and that recommendation. “Resurrecting Tobias” was a joy to write. It was also cleansing and forgiving. Yes, there is a ton of me in Toby. I needed to address my lifetime and several of my personal demons, and that novel was the result. It is a very personal book. It was hard to write but it was necessary, and it was hard to publish it, for all the world to see, but again it was necessary.

I’ll leave it at that!

What we are dealing with lately....brrrr!
What we are dealing with lately....brrrr!

Be Safe and Warm

While we all dream of spring, be safe and warm in the grips of winter. Snow means walks with Maggie out at the farm. Snow means memories of childhood days that never seemed to end, when youth was forever and reality was suspended. It means fires in the woodstove and keeping our chickens alive. It means snuggling under a pile of blankets and embracing the wonder of it all.

It means life and love!

By the way, a writer friend of mine recently interviewed me. You can find that interview on Shannon Henry’s blog here.

Love to you all! May this week be all you want it to be, plus a bonus!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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