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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 258

Updated on May 27, 2019

Building a Fence

I just finished building a fence in the backyard. It only took me ten years to figure out how to do it. Hey, I never claimed to be brilliant!

Seriously, ten years. The problem was a lack of money. Having someone else build it for us was too expensive. Doing it myself was daunting. Buying all of the posts, digging the post holes, making sure everything was plumb and square . . . I got a headache every single time I started thinking about it . . . and so yes, ten years of procrastination followed as I told myself other projects were more important.

And then it dawned on me, like one of those light bulbs turning on over the head of a cartoon character. There was already a chain link fence in place. It was already plumb and square. What if I just attached wood slats to that chain link fence?

And it worked! From our side of the yard it looks like a regular wood fence. You really can’t see the chain link fence it is attached to.

Problem solved!

Writing is a bit like building that fence. I’ll let you ponder that as we tackle this week’s Mailbag.

And thanks to all of you who shared your mother’s favorite sayings. Some of them were classics!

Welcome to the Mail Room
Welcome to the Mail Room

BLOGGING

From Rodric: “I finally started blogging. So, thanks for that encouragement a while back that I did not take because I was not interested in doing that at the time, the blogging. Now that I am blogging, how often should I do it? I know once a week is standard, but if I want to get readers to read my stuff, should I do it every other day in the beginning for a while to get the crowd going?”

Great question, my friend, and it’s one which should prove interesting for a number of people reading this.

When determining how often to post a blog, remember this: consistency is rewarded by Google; inconsistency is punished. Whether you post once a month, once a week, or once a day, be consistent about it. The added bonus is this: consistency establishes an audience and keeps them coming back.

But you asked how often, so let’s look at that. From a Google standpoint, shorter and more often is better in the SEO world than longer and not so often. Put it another way: a blog of 150 characters, three times a week, will be given more attention by Google than a blog of 700 characters posted once every two weeks.

My suggestion, for what it’s worth: since you are just starting out, I suggest you post at least three times a week, and post reasonably short blogs. Once you have established a following, and once Google recognizes your blog, you can cut back to once a week if you want to.

Hope that helps!

Choose a direction and a purpose for your blog
Choose a direction and a purpose for your blog

Another on Blogging

From Katrina: “Why should I blog? I write articles for HP, and I make a little bit of money, but I don’t understand the advantage of blogging. Can you enlighten, please?”

Shoot, Katrina, don’t blog if you don’t want to. I can’t tell from your question, but is there someone suggesting that you should blog? My question would be this: for what purpose?

If you want your own public forum where you can expound on a topic you are passionate about, I think blogging is a great place to do that. If you want to establish yourself as a professional writer, I think blogging helps to build that platform. If you want another source of income, you can certainly find that by monetizing a blog. But blogging just for the sake of blogging? I think a walk in the park might be a better use of your time.

Establish why you should blog before you do blog! That’s my advice and I’m sticking to it.

I have two blogs I’m fairly consistent with. I have them for a variety of reasons. The reasons are valid plus I just enjoy the interchange with my followers about those topics, so for me, blogging is a good thing. It might not be for you.

Your choice!

How to Post a Question

From Brenda: “How do I post a question for the Mailbag?”

First, Brenda, welcome to the Mail Room. It’s always nice having a new member of the writing community join us.

You can post a question in the comment section below, or you can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com. Either approach works. I would also give you the option of calling me on the phone, but I never answer the phone, so that option probably wouldn’t work too well. Lol

Bring it on, my new friend!

What to include in a memoir?
What to include in a memoir?

MEMOIRS

From Robert: “You mentioned you are now writing your memoirs. How does a person do that? Is there a particular format for memoir writing? I’m a fiction writer, and writing a memoir just seems so monumental to me. I’m fifty-eight years old. How would I ever shrink my life down into book form? And what is important to tell in those fifty-eight years?”

Join the crowd, Robert, because it seems monumental to me as well. As for how to do it, I really have no clue. I’m winging it as I go. LOL Welcome to my life!

Okay, seriously for a moment, remember this important point: in a memoir, you are the tour guide. You get to decide which “attractions” you are going to lead people to, and which do not warrant mentioning. I would suggest that in a fifty-eight year life, a lot of what you did is not worth writing about, and yet a lot is. You need to decide what is important to the central theme of your memoir and what is not.

If it all seems a bit monumental, I would suggest you do this: start small. Sit down, once a day, or once a week, and just write about one thing that happened to you during your life, or one event which you consider to be important. Do that for a few months and then look at the individual pieces and see if a common theme has begun to rise from the rubble. I’m guessing it will.

My memoir is titled “And the Blind Shall See.” The title is a reference to the fact that I was still blind at the age of nine month after being shuffled around nine different foster homes . . .and I weave that blindness theme throughout the book, which is actually about me, an adopted kid, trying to figure out just who the hell I am as a human being. It is a grand quest in search of self.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on that matter. Thanks for the question.

Now That the Fence Is Completed

It’s on to the next project on my to-do list. It’s a pretty long list, so I’m confident I won’t run out of things to do in this lifetime. At least I finally figured out who I am, so that project has been crossed off the list as well.

I wish, for all of you, answers to your most important questions. Sometimes the answers will never be found, in which case I wish you all, at the very least, a grand quest!

Have a great week! Do all things in love!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's very kind of you, Genna! Thank you very much.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Bill...I loved that fence analogy, and the tour guide for writing a memoir. I can't wait to read yours. Judging from the title, and what we have gleaned from your wonderful hubs, this book will be an amazing, must read.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And your thoughts are appreciated, Lori! Thank you...yes, this is definitely a memoir. As for the fence, if I remember yes, I will take a picture.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Bill! There was no way I was digging eight holes for fence posts. Another solution had to be found. :)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      2 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Hi Bill, sorry I'm late. Like everyone else has said, congrats on the fence and love the analogy. Any chance you can post a photo next week on both sides of the fence?

      My understanding of an autobiography is a chronological history of one's own life. It's less personal. Whereas a memoir focus' on a specific part of your life, such as an illness, addiction/recovery, grief. So as you said, a lot of stuff is left out of a memoir that is not related. The memoir goes more into feelings and struggles in a specific subject. It's much more personal, and in my book, much more powerful. A memoir is intimate. Just my thoughts.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ten years, Zulma! That might be a record for cluelessness on my part.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Chitrangada Sharan. Yes, they are different for sure.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the clarification, Venkatachari M.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy! "Master" might be a stretch, but I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! It isn't professional, but it is functional.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alyssa. Good luck with that plan to do more blogging and writing. I hope nothing derails you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you always, Eman!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, I think you need to cut back on the midday cocktails. lol

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. I like the title to your memoirs. I was not aware that you were blind for the first nine months of your life? Amazing! As for the fence, I helped a nephew put up a fence years ago and it is back breaking work. Good for you for finding an easier solution to the problem. Have a great week.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 months ago from United Kingdom

      Isn't it always the way. I tend to overthink things and often miss the simple solution that was staring me in the face the whole time. lol

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks for sharing another edition of the mailbag.

      Congratulations for the completion of your fence. It must be a wonderful feeling to finish a work.

      Many people, who are not regular writers, believe that blogging and writing articles, is the same. But, they are different. Good that you explained the distinction here.

      Thank You for sharing.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Factory colony means the colony in which quarters are provided to employees by the management. I worked in a government cement factory those days.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Figuring out the fencing and figuring out who you are as a person seems to be quite the accomplishment! Congrats! You are a master of many things.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Congratulations on finishing the fence, Bill. I like the way in which you did it!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      2 months ago from Ohio

      What a wonderful edition of the mailbag! I enjoyed your tips on blogging.. I'm always looking for ways to improve mine, and with summer break starting on Saturday, I am planning on devoting more time to my blog and writing in general. Congratulations on finishing your fence! I hope you have an amazing week!

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      2 months ago from Egypt

      A very interesting and helpful article as well.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 months ago from Texas

      LOL! . . .Oh look, it's back now! I swear it wasn't there earlier. If you tell anyone I'm hallucinating, I'll have to haunt you when it does me in.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      it was some philosophical reflection, Shannon, heavy with a touch of cream. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M. Factory colonies? I'm not familiar with that phrase. I'll have to do some research on that.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 months ago from Texas

      I was trying to remember all of what I said to you and now I can't find my original comment. So weird! You're welcome for whatever it was I said. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ahmer!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Zulma! The solution was so simple I was kicking myself for taking so long to see it. :) Happy week to you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, James, for mentioning e-newsletters. I'll tackle that one this Monday and hopefully have some useful information for you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I like your style, John, wait and see! 50/50 on costs would be wonderful. Here's hoping he/she goes for it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very kind, Liz,and I thank you. Google Adsense confuses me as well, so you have company in the confusion. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good suggestion,Brian,and I thank you for it. Something to ponder for sure. I'm in uncharted waters for sure, so all suggestions are helpful. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks MizB. Yes, I've seen those slats used here as well, but I couldn't find anyone who carried them. This ended up being a bit more expensive, but it is worth the cost.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shannon! Nah, it looks fine from their side.They are happy for the privacy as well, so everyone is pleased. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Pamela. It is an interesting process,writing a memoir, and I'm approaching it like I do my novels...I'm just turning my muse loose and allowing her to do the heavy lifting.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Tuesday, Melissa. I hope you are finally able to enjoy Spring weather. Did you get the notice about my book being available as an ebook? I hope so. Have a great week!

    • Ahmer Ayaz profile image

      Ahmer Ayaz 

      2 months ago

      Striling Residence is a perfect place to live and enjoy your beautiful moments of life with your friends and family. Striling residence is a place where your dream comes true. Stirling residences has a number of reemarkable panaromic sights, while provide you best facilities what you offers.

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    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's one more interesting mailbag, Bill.

      Your fence leads me to my life in the factory colonies during the '80s and '90s. We used to maintain the link chain fences with a wooden gate in the front. We had to intertwine it all around with the barbed wire that has thorns in it so that animals couldn't pass through it. But, now, I am living in high apartments and there is no question of it at all.

      Your tips about blogging are very informative and intelligent enough.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 months ago from United Kingdom

      Kudos to you, Bill, on building that fence. (clapping) How clever to just build upon what was already there. On to the next challenge.

      Hope you had a great weekend. I'm still waiting for mine to end.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      2 months ago from The Great Midwest

      I have the same question about doing an e-newsletter as Rodic asked about blogging. I haven't started it yet so I'll figure it out then. I liked the insight on google search. Have a nice holiday.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      And the mail keeps being delivered, rain, hail or shine...or fence building. My back fence is in a terrible state of repair, actually old and falling down. I need to erect a new one but have been procrastinating too. The new neighbour at the back has been renovating his yard and home so am hoping he suggests going 50/50 on a new fence. Just have to wait and see I guess. Have a great week, Bill.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      Congratulations on finishing the fence. I too have a long to-do list, which I can never imagine finishing, so it's encouraging when others get a job done. I have noted your comments on blogging with interest. It's an area that I need to explore more. But first on my to-do list is to sort out an email about google adsense. They tell me I haven't used it for a few months so they are planning on suspending it. I only signed up when I joined Hub Pages. The whole Hub earnings procedure still baffles me. I was impressed by the way you are tackling your memoirs through the blindness theme. I look forward to reading it.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 months ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Another memoirs writing idea, Bill, is to write memoir essays. Writing about how you met the love of your life, or about realizing that your infant has her or his own personality, or about the time that getting fired had wonderful consequences is much less daunting than writing about a lifetime. Later the essays can be shaped into a book.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 months ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, I read this earlier this morning and then got interrupted before I could comment. About the fence you pondered for 10 years. Years ago in Texas in another lifetime, people with chain-link fences would make them privacy fences by weaving metal pieces through them, pieces that looked like blinds. I've never seen that done anywhere else. Some were plain white, and some had gaily colored patterns in them. Glad you finally got yours finished though.

      I'm eager to read your memoirs. You are a very interesting person, my friend. I like your family already and would like a further peek into them.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 months ago from Texas

      I'm sorry, Bill, but I can't help but laugh. Why? Because I see a bit of a metaphor in your fence story. And it's probably one you hadn't even intended. But, you see, everything looks great from "your side of the fence." What about the point of view of the neighbors?

      Oh yeah, and ten years for a fence? Now I don't feel so bad about procrastinating for nearly that long on writing the rest of a rough drafter for a particular novel. It's daunting!

      And your memoir may be as well, but you already have a crowd lined up to buy. Count me in!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Congratulations on finishing the 10 year fence project. It is interesting to think of the way you finished the fence as it might relate to writing.

      Your mailbag is always interesting. I have had a fairly interesting life, but the idea of writing a memoir is just too much work. I have read some very interesting autobiographies, and for some, and I think you, there is a story to tell with a message for others. Have a great week Bill.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      2 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! And I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Memorial Day Monday. I knew there would be no letters in my mailbox outside, but I could be sure the mailbag would still deliver. :)

      Glad you worked out the fence. Sounds like a brilliant solution!

      Have a great and productive week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I live and breathe YouTube for instructional videos. It's amazing what you can find on that network. As for your questions, great! I've never had that first question, so I'm looking forward to answering it. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, thank you! I relax by doing projects. I'm afraid if I sit down and do nothing, my body will consider that an invitation to shut down permanently. lol That's only partially facetious.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, me thinks you think I'm more clever than I really am. lol Or maybe I am! Now I'm confused. Stain for sure...no paint...Bev's orders, and I always listen to Bev.

      As for the baking show, they use stuff I've never heard of....baking with rose? Really?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      There ain't no give up in us, Pop, and never will be. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ziyena! I appreciate it, and Happy Memorial Day to you as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nice, Flourish! You stuck with something for seven years. I'm impressed by your doggedness.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great analogy, Mel! Perfect in fact. I,too,believe that all the topics for stories have already been told, in many ways. Our job is to find a new way of telling the same story.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Verlie, I love it...fence falls down, just burn it in the fire pit. Problem solved! lol Have a great week, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Memorial Day to you, Janine! Summer is almost upon us, my friend. The gloomy days of winter are gone, hopefully.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 months ago from Brazil

      Glad your fence is done, I know how things like that can get put on the back burner. For future farm adventures, I suggest YouTube. When we don't know something about farming or repairs of machinery we head to YouTube. So many people with good advice and life hacks. I don't have time to reinvent the wheel.

      I have a couple question that are related. I have a friend who wants to write his autobiography but will probably need a ghostwriter. Do you think it matters if the person male or female? Also can you clarify the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 months ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Memorial Day Mailbag Monday!

      Re: To Blog or Not to Blog. You're right. If you don't want to, don't. There's just not enough money in the system to reward mediocre commitment. Enough said.

      Re: Memoirs. The biggest problem I think memoir writers have is distinguishing between autobiography and memoir. Autobiography is "just the facts" (or facts as the person remembers them). Memoir is richer and more story/message driven, highlighting only those events that add to the overall work.

      Glad you got your fence done. Now have a relaxing Memorial Day holiday!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Now I'm beginning to wonder if you r-e-a-l-l-y spent 10 years pondering over that fence, or was this just your way of illustrating to us the process of finding solutions to the problems we encounter, and sometimes the solution is staring right back at us. The can't see the forest for the trees thing.

      And if it is a real fence stain if you must but please don't paint it.

      Good advice to Rodric. I didn't know how the Google gods view it and now I do. Thank you for that. Have a wonderful day and get back to watching the British Baking challenge (let me know the winning entry, OK?)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      2 months ago

      Your fence just proves that giving up forever is not an option. I feel the same way about writing. Giving up is not an option for me.

    • ziyena profile image

      Ziyena Brazos 

      2 months ago from Somewhere in Time ...

      Happy Memorial Day

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      Congratulations on finishing the fence. I once took seven years to finish a quilt (we call it that) but hey, it’s gone now. Not pretty but done.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 months ago from San Diego California

      Great question about fences. My response would be that every story has already been told in the several millennia mankind has been telling stories. Those would be the chain-link fences, such as the one you had standing already on your urban farm. The job of the writer is to cover up that fence and make it one's own, with the way he or she tells one of those timeless stories, the literary equivalent of redwood, pine, cedar planks, or even bricks. Drape a little ivy over it for effect, perhaps.

      As for blogging, I wish I knew how to be reasonably short. Enjoyable read as always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I guess I could, Sha! I hadn't thought about it. Let me stain it first and then I'll do that. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Louise, and Happy Memorial Day to you as well.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I'd love to see your fence. Will you be posting it on your farming blog?

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 months ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, congratulations on 'building' the fence, brilliant! And ten years ain't bad. I've been trying to fix the fence for nearly 20 years, what more can I say, it's slowly falling down, and/so I'm burning it as it falls (a couple of backyard fire pit sessions a year) and now I'm thinking I don't really need a fence anyway...Happy Memorial Day. Weather here is hot, gardens are loving it.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      2 months ago from New York, New York

      As always, great advice, Bill! Also, loved the fence analogy to writing and congrats on finally finishing up that fence! Happy Monday and Memorial Day now to you. Now, wishing you a wonderful week ahead!! :)

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 

      2 months ago from Ontario

      Happy Memorial Day I love your take on the art of writing

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    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
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    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
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