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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 269

Updated on August 12, 2019

Camped out in a Weird Space Right Now

It’s a bit disconcerting, to tell you the truth. I am aimless, as some of you know. I mentioned it on one of my blogs, and my state of aimlessness still exists.

To summarize briefly, we cut back on our urban farming, and I quit my position with the farmers market, and now I seem to have no direction. I’m one of those people who always has to be chasing after a goal. Yes, writing certainly helps, as it always has, but I need something more, and I don’t have a clue what that would be.

It will come to me. I have no worries about that. Like my writing muse, who just shows up when she feels like it, I am certain a new direction will manifest itself sooner rather than later. Until then, though, I am drifting on the water with no winds to speak of.

I have the doldrums! Do any of you know where that word comes from, the doldrums? Extra credit will be awarded to your account if you do. J

Let’s point this thing towards some great questions, shall we?

The Mail Room
The Mail Room

INSPIRATION

From Eric: Do you inspire yourself by your writing? Or is that just too self centered?

Sheez, Eric, I don’t think that is self-centered and yes, on occasion I actually inspire myself. It doesn’t happen that often because I am never totally satisfied with my writing, but it has happened on rare moments. I wrote a series of short stories many moons ago about a magical little girl named Hope, and I got goose bumps while writing about her. Oddly, I haven’t felt that way in a few years now; perhaps there is a message there, but I am a bear of very little brain, and I fear the message is lost.

Clarification About Guerrilla Marketing

From Mary: “interesting ideas about guerrilla marketing. I'm not sure I understood all of them in the video. Could be an age thing. LOL”

Well shoot, Mary, it could be that I explained them poorly. Surely you aren’t aging.

Guerrilla marketing, summarized with as little fanfare as possible, is getting the most bang for your buck, in marketing, using unconventional methods. It is advertising “on the cheap.” If I could talk the actor Bradley Cooper into walking around Los Angeles holding a copy of one of my books, that would be guerrilla marketing at its finest.

SELF-PROMOTION

From Shannon: “On the guerilla marketing. . . sounds fun. For someone else. I really hate self-promotion. Any tricks for getting over that? LOL. It's not shyness (well, for the most part). I just don't like it. At all. It's too time consuming and it leaves a person too vulnerable in a sense.”

I have no tricks for that at all, Shannon. You either do it or you don’t. A lot of writers don’t. For sure it leaves you vulnerable. For sure it is time consuming. I don’t like it either and I hardly ever do it, unless you count my website and blogs and articles on HP, all of which is self-promotion. Heck, a lot of the things I do on social media are self-promotion, although it’s really just random stuff with no purpose at all. Every time I show up on Facebook I supposed I’m promoting me; I’m at least giving a rather large audience a glimpse of me.

But I get what you are saying and I agree with it. Marketing oneself is not for everyone, and that’s just dandy. Don’t force it if it ain’t there, and you can quote me on that.

My self promotion
My self promotion

My Blogs

From MizB: “I'm getting around to having time to start reading blogs, so will you please tell us again how to find yours?”

I surely will, MizB, but it’s going to seem like self-promotion, so I apologize in advance.

I have two blogs:

Artistry With Words

Urban Farm Yard Sanctuary

Thanks for asking, my friend.

Writing in a Public Place

From Brian: “Bill, when you want to work on a story in progress and it is too hot and muggy in your house, why don't you write in a cafe, fast food joint, coffeehouse, or public library?”

All great suggestions, Brian, but I’m one of those people who is easily distracted by anything going on around me. If I’m in a public place I instantly start watching the people. I did it in the library yesterday. I sat down to read a magazine and within two minutes I was watching the human show going on around me. I finally put the magazine down and walked out.

So writing in a situation like that? Not happening for this boy.

I’m better off waiting for winter to arrive. LOL

Calm winds and no movement
Calm winds and no movement

Did Anyone Figure out the Doldrums Question?

The Doldrums is the region of calm winds, centered slightly north of the equator and between the two belts of trade winds, which meet there and neutralize each other. If you were a sailor, and got stuck in The Doldrums, you weren’t going anywhere for awhile until currents carried you out of there. It is widely assumed that the phrase 'in the doldrums' is derived from the name of this region. Actually the truth is the opposite of that. In the 19th century, 'doldrum' was a word meaning 'a dullard, and this probably derived from 'dol', meaning 'dull' with its form taken from 'tantrum'. That is, as a tantrum was a fit of petulance and passion, a doldrum was a fit of sloth and dullness, or one who indulged in such. It wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that the area just north of the Equator was referred to as The Doldrums.

So there you go!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Comments

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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      10 hours ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Thanks for your answer, Bill.

      That's interesting that you lost interest in farming without a competing interest in mind. I think it was in THE ARTIST'S Way by Julia Cameron that I read about the technique of getting a bunch of old magazines and some scissors and paste and making collages as fast as you can. If you notice recurring themes, that might be a clue to what you want to do next.

      Or perhaps try Tony Buzan style mind mapping with the same aim.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      22 hours ago from SW England

      I knew about the winds thing ref the 'doldrums' but I'd never heard the other reason; very interesting so thank you for that education. I suppose that happens to us all once in a while but at least it gives us time for reflection. If we use it as a time to open up our minds to any ideas or inspiration then maybe it has a purpose. Just me being optimistic, which often means I'm in cloud-cuckoo land!

      Catching up with hubs, emails etc. so off I go to the next!

      Enjoy your weekend, bill!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      42 hours ago from Olympia, WA

      That happy medium is a tough one to find, Mel. I wish you luck in your search. I'm still searching here in Olympia.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 days ago from San Diego California

      I know what you mean about the doldrums, buddy. I look forward to my staycations from the postal service, using the opportunity to catch up on writing projects, but I only have about five hours of sitting in front of a screen in me. After that I am burned out, restless and looking for something to do, wishing I could go back to work. I think one has to achieve a happy medium between physical and mental labor. Great work.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, I think the doldrums visit us more often after a certain age. One of the "joys" of aging, I'm afraid.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, making lists sounds exhausting to me. :) Best to get a cuppa and sit in the shade enjoying the end of summer. That sounds much more enjoyable to me. :)

      Happy Thursday dear friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! Let's hope we both see favorable winds soon.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 days ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, sorry about that heat. We certainly had no use for it, so off we sent it. :) As for the comment thingie, that happens sometime. The comment just shows up days later. I will never understand technology, my friend.

      Happy Weekend to you!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 days ago from Hyderabad, India

      Nice mailbag with questions around self-promotion, writing at public places and facing doldrums.

      Personally, I can't write at a public place somebody watching or moving around you. And, doldrums, yes I face those moments too often.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 days ago from United Kingdom

      Hi, Bill.

      Thanks for the lesson on the doldrums. I think it's a perfect metaphor for what you're experiencing right now. At the moment, you're dead in the water waiting for a favourable wind (inspiration, your muse) to take you towards a new destination.

      I'm kinda going through that now. The geese are flying again, which means autumn will soon be here. I'm thinking of the upcoming holidays and am stuck as to what to do next to prepare for them. I really need to sit down with pen and paper and make a plan. (sigh) That's so boring though. Need to muster up some discipline and get on with it.

      Till next time, have a pleasant day.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 days ago from The Caribbean

      I've been in the doldrums though I couldn't describe it. Thanks to you, I would know now when it is the answer to a trivia question. I loved your articles on Hope. They were exceptionally touching. Thanks for everything, Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      That is my fervent hope, Linda! Until then I'll just sit in the shade and sweat along with Maggie.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Michael my friend. Surprises abound in the Mail Room. Peace be with you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Bill! It's a shame a writer as good as you does not feel comfortable marketing, but I totally understand.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Evidently it does, Mike, but at least change keeps us honest and provides some variety.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Liz! Congrats on not Googling the answer to the doldrums question. That's quite a temptation for most.

      Great question; the answer will arrive Monday with the mail.

      Have a brilliant weekend!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I hope your doldrums end soon, Bill. Hopefully you'll find a new direction when the weather cools. Thanks for sharing the information about guerrilla marketing.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 

      4 days ago

      "Doldrums" and "tantrums", hey this language s awesome. I am learning the words never before existing in my native language.

      Thank you my friend, thank you to all wonderful commenters .

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      4 days ago from Beautiful South

      Hi, Bill, I'm guessing the problem is at my end because as soon as I hit the Post Comment button, my comment yesterday zoomed off into the wild blue yonder and it said it was subject to your approval. I've even forgotten what I said except darn you for sending that hot weather our way in Arkansas. It's too hot to be called doldrums. My chicken's screen room is so hot that I may have to install AC. I have a fan pulling air in on them, but it's hot air, poor things. I should never have bragged about our weather.

      I checked out your blogs, and I really like the chicken stories, but then I would, wouldn't I?

      Have a cool one with me, friend, I'm having an iced tea, sweet with lemon.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 days ago from Massachusetts

      HI Bill. August always sends me into the doldrums. It's hot, humid, and I don't really want to go outside, yet I get antsy being stuck inside.

      As far as Guerrilla marketing, not for me. I just can't do the whole self-promotion thing, although I do post my hubs on FB, which is the extent of my promoting my work. Have a great week.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Alyssa! Now to find a way to make that marketing scheme of mine work. haha

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Peg, I would just curl up in a ball and die in that heat...stay cool and safe, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Those bastards indeed, Eric! How dare they take your play buddy away! lol Carry on, buddy, and I'll tackle your question on Monday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Good solution, Flourish! I normally don't have this happens. It's an interesting phenomena, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      That would do it for me, Ruby! Rain in the summer is depressing....one would think I'd be used to it by now,but no such luck,my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch,Lori! This too shall pass.I'll be fine. I'm too stubborn to toss in my cards and give up a winning hand.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm with you in spirit, Verlie. I understand completely. The weather is beautiful and I have no desire to go out in it. lol Woe is both of us!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      4 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - Another interesting mailbag. 'Change is one thing that is certain.' I hear that a lot. Seems it applies to you also.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 days ago from UK

      Thanks for another interesting collection of thoughts. I made the link between 'doldrums' and lack of wind for sailing, but that was as far as it went. I was pleased that in this day and age I resisted the urge to google it!

      Interesting comments on guerilla marketing and self-promotion. Do you think that it's possible that writers hide behind their writing as a form of self-expression and therefore self-promotion goes against the grain? Thanks for the blog links.

      I have oftem marvelled at the likes of JK Rowling and her ability to write whilst in a cafe. I struggle when there's anyone else in the house let alone in the same room.

      I hope you find your next project soon to keep you busy. I am sure you will, if it doesn't find you first!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      5 days ago from Ohio

      What a fun fact! Thank you Bill! And thank you also for another great mailbag.. I like your example of Guerrilla Marketing.. haha! I hope you have a wonderful week!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 days ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Summer lethargy. It's everywhere! One whiff of autumn coolness should help clear out the doldrums. We have a temperature heat index of 106 degrees today. It's blistering hot outside.

      Hope your energy returns.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill the bastards took him away to what they call School. I am lost. A few days and I will be back on the "trail". But it hurts. You write about pain in your characters but when a single quail dies you must feel it. How do you stay so upbeat? You are a fine wind beneath my wings but how about the wind you need? Not so easy.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 days ago from USA

      I can relate to the doldrums, and when they strike I usually turn to my stock trading hobby more. It doesn’t require creativity, just focus on hard analytics, a different part of the brain than my writer side. I find it readies me to write.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 days ago from Southern Illinois

      I always thought that Doldrums were boredom, not caring about doing anything. Thanks for the clarification. It is raining cats and dogs here, so I think I have the Doldrums. Another good mailbag...

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      5 days ago from Pacific Northwest

      Hi Bill, I cheated and looked it up. Doldrums means a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump, and/or a spell of listlessness or despondency. I think Heidi and Linda are right, it can also be the time of year as well as feeling no purpose because of the loss of things you once loved to do. Praying for a good Monday for you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      That's what I"m here for, William, a master of the insignificant. lol

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      5 days ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, I'm with you on the doldrums. I hope things pick up soon! I have so many things I want to do that I can't do, and I don't want to do the things I can do. Oh woe is me...Happy Monday!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, good luck with that sailboat shopping. That sounds exciting, Mary! Best wishes following that dream.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Linda! I'm just not going to sweat it. The answer, and the energy, will return. Of that I am certain. Blessings to you this week, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Monday Chitrangada Sharan, and thank you. Wishing you a successful week ahead, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm with you, Heidi! August is a weird month at best. I spend considerably less time on social media in August. The hot weather wipes me out, as do outside chores, so I have very little energy for marketing and writing and schmoozing. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Your comments made perfect sense, Pamela, and I thank you for them.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      5 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for the background of "doldrums". I thought I was going to have to look it up. Another great mailbag. Thanks for consistently coming through.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      5 days ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I was referring to the video you had shared, about guerrilla marketing. Not what you had said. Thanks, though for the further clarification. I like the idea of Bradley Cooper taking your books around.

      We are thinking of buying a sailboat so I was aware of the doldrums but not the origins of the word.

      Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      5 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, a good mailbag again. Always different questions but I fear this doldrums thing is contagious. I have much to do but don't give a darn. That feeling seems to hit every year about this time. I'm "gardened out" because the flowers are done and there's no longer any reward. Getting ready for winter is less than inspiring. In the words of Charlie Brown -- RATS!

      Have a pleasant (cool-ish) week my friend and enjoy those doldrums while they're here. Just keep your eyes and ears open and let those batteries recharge.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 days ago from New Delhi, India

      Happy Monday Bill!

      Good explanation of the term, ‘doldrums.’ We use this term, so often.

      Hope you get your goal very soon. Enjoyed going through another set of useful questions and answers.

      Wish you a great weekend. Thanks for sharing.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      5 days ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Mailbag Monday!

      Re: Doldrums. I've been feeling the doldrums, both in writing and just about everywhere else the past week. The chatter on my social forums is almost nonexistent. I can whip through email in seconds. I hate August! People are gearing up their kiddos for school and doing last minute summer stuff. Even if they don't have kids, everyone seems to be in limbo somehow. Plus, this year, we've had a severe drought here in Chicago over the past month. And, yes, my work seems to be hanging in the hot, dead air. But I'm getting back to my HP blogging, now that I've finished a print/eBook/audio book project. That feels good.

      Re: Writing in Public. Weirdly, it's the only place I can get any writing done. My coffee shop "coffices" are the best. Then I do all the editing and such in my home office which is the only place I can get that done.

      Re: Guerilla Marketing. If you get Bradley Cooper to walk around LA with your book, let me know how you got him to do that. ;)

      Anyway, I say enjoy some downtime in the doldrums, for the autumn cometh!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 days ago from Sunny Florida

      I thought the Doldrums had something to do with the Equator, and you clarified the meaning, so thank you. I think self-promotion is difficult for many of us, except for writing on Hubpages is not difficult as I feel like I have friends. I haven't found much success when using some of the other available websites, although having 2 blogs that are interesting would not exactly be self-promotion in my eyes. I don't know if my comments make sense, but I have all week to improve. LOL Have a good week Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Just a little piece of navigational trivia for you, Janine. No thanks necessary. :) Happy Monday to you!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 days ago from New York, New York

      Totally learned something new about The Doldrums and tantrums, too. So, thank you for that and so much more! Happy Monday and hope this week is great to you now, Bill!! :)

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