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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 277

Updated on October 7, 2019

Fall Has Definitely Arrived

I was just looking at the weather around the country. It appears fall has arrived here in the Northwest, but the east coast seems to be a bit confused with warmer than normal temps. I would be quite happy to see one more day of seventy here, but I suspect that is wishful thinking.

Last week I mentioned smells which can trigger memories of long ago. The same can be said for the weather. I watch the leaves falling from trees this morning and I am catapulted back to the Sixties, raking up the leaves into big piles and then running and jumping into those piles. Back then home owners could even burn those piles, so there would be plumes of smoke rising above the backyards in our neighborhood. The colder temps also meant it was time to stick the baseball gloves in the closet and pull out the football, calling up friends to see if they wanted to go to the park and play a game of three-on-three two-hand touch football.

Great memories, all fuel for the fire within a writer.

What memories come to mind for you when the fall weather arrives?

While you are thinking about that, let’s see what questions you all have for me in the mail this week.

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Cursing and Family

From Lori: “Bill, how do you feel about profanity in fiction? It is a reality that probably a majority of people nowadays use copious amounts of profanity, especially f-bombs and using the Lord's name as a curse word (it hurts to hear those). I know it's a realistic part of a character sometimes. What I do is simply say the character cursed, or spoke a string of expletives. I will not go further, but would like your take?

“My other question is, do you ever loosely base characters on family, friends, or acquaintances?”

Thanks for the questions, Lori! The cussing one is a tough one and purely a personal decision. I like reality in my books, and as you mentioned, the reality is that a large proportion of people in the U.S. use profanity in their daily discussions. On the other hand, my favorite book of all-time is “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and I don’t remember any cussing in that book at all. There may be some, but I sure don’t remember it, and that book proved to be pretty popular.

So like I said, it’s really a personal decision on your part. Good writing is good writing is good writing. Profanity by itself does not make good writing. It is only one aspect of writing in general.

As for characters based on real family, friends, and acquaintances, I do it all the time, but in particular I did it often in my first and second novels, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” and “Resurrecting Tobias.” Without a doubt my loved ones appear in those two novels, and I’m sure I’ll do it again in future novels.

Why do I do that? One reason is respect for people I love, and another reason is because it’s easy to do. Why reinvent the wheel if it’s not necessary? I’ve known some pretty interesting people during my seventy years. They might as well help me out with my novels if they can.

The Yin and Yang of Freelancing

From Robert: “Bill, you’ve been a freelancer for quite awhile now. I’m wondering what you think is the worst thing about freelancing, and what you think is the best thing about it?”

Congratulations, Robert! No one has ever asked me those questions, which is saying quite a bit considering we are in Year Five of this series.

The worst thing about freelancing? I’m sure most people would say simply finding jobs. It’s hard for those starting out to establish themselves and actually find jobs which pay decent money. But that wouldn’t be my answer. My answer has to do with creativity. In my core I’m a creative writer, and most freelancing jobs do not call for a lot of creativity. I find many freelance gigs to be stifling in that way. I took on a lot of them early on, but now I just do jobs I am interested in and I leave the boring, stifling stuff to someone else. I can only write about acreage mowing or real estate for so long and then I want to rip my hair out.

The best thing about freelancing? I do like the freedom it provides. I do like the fact that I get paid for doing something I enjoy doing, and I do like the fact that I can name my hours and not really answer to a boss. For me, though, the best thing has to do with my Business/Marketing background. I just enjoy building a business from the ground up. I like the challenge of that and always have. Now mind you, I could be doing much better at this business if I put in some extra time and effort, but I’m seventy and I just don’t feel like doing that. I much prefer going for walks with my dogs, and spending time with Bev.

Speaking of which . . .

Being your own boss is nice!
Being your own boss is nice!

Travels With Maggie

From Rhonda: “I love your ‘Travels With Maggie’ series. In it you do a lot of philosophizing, and I was wondering if you have always been like that? You seem to be incredibly tuned into the natural order of life. Where does that come from?”

Well, Rhonda, Maggie thanks you for enjoying her series, as do I. As for my philosophical nature, it sure doesn’t come from my adopted parents. They weren’t much for deep conversations about nature and life, although my adopted dad was very intuitive and would pass on little tidbits of wisdom from time to time.

Perhaps it came from my biological mother, but I never knew her, so it’s all conjecture. She died young from alcohol and liver problems, and there is no one I can talk to about her philosophy on life.

I’ve always been a quiet kid who sat and observed life around me. I’ve always been an emotional kind of guy. I’m a “what if” person, a “why is that” person. I see things and wonder about them. Why is that tree the only one dead in that copse? Why is that kid a bully and none of his friends are? What makes for a good mother? That kind of stuff goes on inside my head constantly, so it is only natural, for me, that it would appear in my writing. Writing is a release for me, a way to ask the bigger questions in life. It is also a way to connect with people, and I love connecting with people on more than a “hey, how ya doing?” sort of way. I not only want to know how you are doing, but why you are doing, and does any of what you are doing relate to me as a human being.

It’s a busy place inside my head, Rhonda!

Thanks for the question!

Maggie and her brother Tobias!
Maggie and her brother Tobias!

And Thanks to All of You

For over five years you have been here for me, and that is remarkable and humbling and I thank you. I know many of you have issues with HubPages. Heck, I have a few as well. But this is my home away from home, and I truly do love all of you, so thank you!

Don’t forget to share your memories of fall in the comment section.

Have an extraordinary, ordinary week!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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