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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 261

Updated on June 17, 2019

The Voice

I’m a big fan of the NBC talent show The Voice. I’m not sure why I like that show so much, but I do, and one thing I really like about the contestants, besides their vocal abilities, are their background stories.

They are fairly consistent. Most of them sing at any gigs they can book . . . dusty saloons, redneck bars, weddings, street corners, any venue for a chance to be heard and to make a few bucks in tips. Many of them have done that for years, literally singing for pennies in nearly total obscurity, all for the love of making music.

I understand. I’m sure you do as well. Writers, musicians, artists, all are driven by an inner voice to create and to share those creations. What money comes in is nice, but the journey is much more important than the destination for those in the Arts. It is a thankless undertaking and yet it is one which overflows with rewards.

Take a moment and pat yourself on your back. You deserve it!

Let’s do this Mailbag thing, shall we?

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Publishers Publish

From Eric: "Bill, I have three books ready in a sense. I sit fat and happy and don't need the money. But family and friends say to publish. Who will publish me stuffers for a major cut of the action or just to do it. I just write,,, I reckon there are figures out there that just publish.

“Is that cray cray as Gabe would say??”

Eric no, you are not cray cray. You aren’t even asking for something difficult. There are actually sites on the internet which advertise that they can match your work with a publisher . ..for a fee, or course.

There are independent publishing/printing companies which will gladly print your book in a very professional manner. There is Amazon, that multi-faced conglomerate looking to dominate the world of commerce, and there are traditional publishers, like Penguin, who most likely won’t touch your book with a ten-foot pole.

You didn’t mention self-publishing through Kindle/Amazon like most of us do, so I’m not exactly sure which route you want to take in this publishing quest, but you have quite a few options available to you.

Dora Goes Deep on Me

From Dora: “Bill, I have a question instead of an answer to your truth. Is it significant that you now see and know the truth (singular), when previously you searched for truths? Just checking.”

Dora, your question deserves a totally serious answer. No joking around on this one. No snarky one-liners.

Knowing the truth, for me, now means peace of mind and heart. I was unsettled during the search, and often lost. I was sullen, sad, loose from my moorings, drifting aimlessly without direction. At times I was self-destructive.

Finding the truth ended all that. My search is over. Green fields stretch in front of me and I am finally happy.

Thank you for a beautiful question.

The truth!
The truth!

Poetry Contests

From Alyssa: “ I hope you are well. I've been mulling around the idea of buckling down and writing poetry again and I thought it might be fun to dive into the world of writing contests. I did this once in high school and had my poem published in a book. Have you ever participated in any writing contests? If so, do you have any fun stories or memories to share? Do you have any suggestions on some good ones to enter?”

Have I participated in writing contests before, Alyssa? Yes! Do I have any fun stories to share? I lost! How’s that for funny? LOL

Okay, seriously! I think if you have the time, and you are strong of will, writing and poetry contests are great. I have an HP friend, Chris Mills, who is constantly entering flash fiction contests, and I mean constantly. It takes a certain kind of person to do that, by the way. You have to have thick skin because, in all honesty, you are facing constant rejection.

But it is also a way to find out how good you are, and to me this is a classic example of the journey being more important than the destination. I think writers become better writers when they face challenges like those poetry contests, so good on you for considering it.

Do I know of any good ones? There are literally hundreds to choose from. Publications like “The Writer,” or “Writers Digest” are always having contests, but those are big names. There are many, many others offered by online sites, schools, and other organizations which are just as good.

I say dive in and give it a go, and for goodness sake, if you win, I want to hear all about it.

Oh, one other came to mind . . . FanStory is always having contests. Check out this link.

What About Maven?

From MizB: “What about Maven? Has it had any impact on the drop in earnings, ya think? Have a good rest of the week, my friend.”

I know nothing about Maven, MizB! I know very little about HP. I just don’t pay attention to all that business stuff. I can tell you that a number of people have told me that their earnings rose considerably because of Maven, and I’ve had a number of people tell me their earnings are down considerably since the Maven take-over, so your guess is as good as mine.

I really don’t want this answer to sound flippant. It’s just that I don’t get wrapped up in the technical side of HP and Maven. I don’t even take the time to read the newsletter they send out weekly. It just doesn’t interest me and thus, I have no answer worth sharing to anyone.

I will say this about HP and now Maven: a lot of these content sites have come and gone, and HP is still standing and still actually paying their writers something, so for just that they deserve some credit. They are obviously doing something correctly or they wouldn’t still be in business. There have always been fluctuations in earnings on HP. I had my first payout after four months, and I was making decent money for a year or so, and then the bottom fell out . . . and then it rebounded for me, only to falter again. It’s like a financial rollercoaster, and I’m sure glad I don’t rely on the HP income.

Still, it’s nice to receive!

Who Is in Charge?

From Ann: “Question: Are you in charge of your writing or is your writing in charge of you?”

I had to think about this one for awhile, Ann. I love the question, by the way.

I’m in charge of suiting up and showing up, each and every day. I have arranged my life so that there is time, daily, for writing. I went out and found customers, and I created my writing platform and did the footwork necessary to “market” that platform.

But that was all propelled by the engine inside of me, and that engine is my need to write.

A transformation took place in me in 2006. That was the year I went into rehab and ended my drinking career. Shortly after leaving rehab my creative juices were unleashed. Suddenly I had to write, and ideas were coming at me from every direction. I can’t stop those ideas now. I go for walks and think about how to write a scene. I go for a drive and article titles pop into my head, so in that sense writing is in charge of me. It has become a very real part of my daily existence. Call it a muse, or whatever, but something remarkable happened to me when I put the plug in the jug and scrubbed my brain clean of alcohol.

I guess my answer is this: a little of both!

Now, your explanation, please?

Life is better when I'm not in charge
Life is better when I'm not in charge

Monday, Monday

Can’t trust that day . . . nice tune, mediocre lyrics at best . . . and then there’s “The Sounds of Silence,” the total package, a legend in the music industry, lyrics plus tune, the pinnacle of a career, the ultimate goal realized . . .

That’s how it is for me. I’ll have days when I get part of it right . . . other days when I’ll get the other part right . . . and then there are those rare moments when it all comes together, and for one brilliant moment I understand what it feels like to rub shoulders with the angels of literature.

Peace out, dudes and dudettes! Thank you for being my friends.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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