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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 244

Updated on February 20, 2019

Back to Normal

My truck is dug out of the snow, the roads are passable, and life is returning to normal here in Olympia. I gotta tell ya, that series of storms were whoppers. The city just basically shut down for an entire week. Now all those kids who were having fun in the snow are facing a summer vacation starting in July. Since I no longer teach school, I can’t really say I feel too sad for the little rug rats. LOL So cruel, Bill!

One good thing: I got caught up on a lot of indoor chores. There is always a silver lining if you look hard enough. Of course, I think I also gained about five pounds, so there’s that to consider too!

We have a big Mailbag today, so enough about our weather. Let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt!

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

Life’s Experiences

From Pamela: “I had the same thought that Peggy expressed. I wonder if most writers incorporate their life experiences in their first book. We certainly do that at least to some degree in our articles.”

Pamela, I obviously can’t speak for other writers, but for me, incorporating life experiences seem to happen in everything I write. By the way, “Resurrecting Tobias” was not my first novel. That designation goes to “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” and that, too, is oozing with my experiences. I just can’t help myself, Pamela.

A Farming Book?

From Mary: “I know you have your farm blog but have you written a book about farming or perhaps one with a setting on a farm? I'm sure you'd have lots to draw on.”

Mary, if I did that, it would have to be a book about what not to do on a farm, since I’ve made just about every mistake possible. Seriously, I just blunder along doing my thing. I should start a “Trip, Stumble, and Fall” forum, with me as the deserving chairman.

But what I lack in talent, or know-how, I more than make up for with a willingness to try and a dogged determination. I’m a big believer in dogged determination.

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll actually give it some thought.

Hp Editing

From Peg: “Questions for you - How do you handle the ongoing "robust" editing (not just the snips) of our creative work on this site? Do you accept their changes, edit them or revert to your original text and photos? Do you see their cookie cutter format as an improvement? Do you think an editor should be authorized to add their own content to an author's work?”

Peg, I understand where this question is coming from. As a writer, our work is our offspring, and Momma don’t like anyone messin’ with her youngin’. I get it, I respect it, and I agree with it. I know people are upset when HP editors mess with their work, and I support their being upset . . . it’s just that I don’t care if they do it to my articles. I’ve got big issues to worry about and, for me, this doesn’t qualify as a big issue in my life. We choose the battles to fight in life, and this isn’t one of my choices. I’m too busy writing and raising chickens to worry about some HP editor snipping one of my Mailbags.

Since earnings seem to be up in recent months, I am going to assume that all that snipping is doing some good in views . . . but then I don’t have proof of that. Is it an improvement? I don’t know, Peg. I can see why others consider it an annoyance, and I can see why others are upset over it. I just consider it the cost of belonging to HP.

Backing up the Back-up

From Liz: “Do you also have your files backed up on a hard drive or some other device? I admire your filing system. I have good intentions which never quite come to pass.”

Liz, I’m horrible about this, so I’m not going to be of any help regarding hard drive backups. My wife is constantly reminding me to back up my work, especially now that my laptop is showing signs of giving up the ghost, but as of this writing I have not done it. Thanks for the kind words about my filing system, but I’m afraid my backup system is horrible.


From Mary: “This mailbag spoke much to me. Complacency is my problem. You named it. Is it because I am not passionate enough or is it because I am too comfortable. My suspicion is that I push myself towards something I m not really passionate about.”

Gosh, Mary, I don’t have a clue. We human beings are complicated creatures. Maybe it shouldn’t be called complacency in your case. Take my wife for example . . . hard-working woman…extremely passionate about many things . . . but she gets hung-up on the follow through. If there are ten steps to completion, she is gang-busters for eight or nine of those steps, but then can’t quite finish it up. I don’t have a clue why that is. I know it bothers her at times, but I find her passion adorable and admirable.

I doubt seriously if you are complacent . . . maybe it is a passion thing. Maybe, if you find something that really rings your bells, you will see it through to the end. I’m sending you positive vibes.

My biggest influence!
My biggest influence!

My Influences

From Lori: “Hi Bill, hope you're staying warm. Bill, I'd like to know who are your favorite writers? What kind of books do you like to read? Which ones have influenced you the most as a writer? Also, when did you catch the writing bug? Like when did you first see that writing was something you liked to do? Have you had any education that's helped you be a better writer, other than the school of hard knocks?”

Sheez, Lori, thanks for the question. I find myself so boring at times. I’m always surprised anyone wants to know what I think, or what motivates me. I’m just a guy in Olympia, Washington, you know?

I’ve said this many times…Harper Lee is, by far, my favorite all-time writer. She is storytelling personified in my opinion. I love mysteries most, however, and my mystery influences were James Lee Burke, John D. MacDonald, Lee Child, and Lawrence Block.

I caught the writing bug as a sophomore in high school. Loved writing short stories back then, but then life got in my way and booze derailed my journey. Now I’m back!

I had a great education, private schools from K through college, but formal education does not make a good writer. Living life, paying attention to life, learning from life . . . pain, joy, agony, loss, ecstasy, these are the things that make a good writer . . . the ability to experience empathy . . . to show compassion . . . to notice nuances . . . these are the things that make a good writer.

From time to time I watch YouTube videos of Leo Buscagia giving lectures on my favorite topic . .. love! The man’s passion is infectious and that, too, makes a good writer.

Just random thoughts . . . thanks Lori!

Back to Nature

There is something awe-inspiring about Mother Nature when she unleashes her might. I mean, eighteen inches of snow in a weekend is pretty impressive. It makes you sit back, with jaw slack, and take a moment to just marvel at the majesty of it all.

I leave you with the lyrics of Dan Fogelberg in Wild Places:

“So many mountains before us, so many rivers to cross
Where is the wisdom to bring back the vision we've lost
Can we gaze with the wonder of children into the deafening night
Has it gotten so dark that we cannot remember the light

When you sleep on the ground with the stars in your face
You can feel the full length of the beauty and grace
In the wild places man is an unwelcome guest
But it's here that I'm found and it's here I feel blessed”

Have a great week!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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