The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 294
I’m a Thinker, Dammit
I honestly wish, at times, that I could turn off the old noggin’ and just go through a day sort of brain dead, you know? My grey matter is firing on all cylinders from the moment I wake up to slumber time, and yes, that’s true for all of us, but I’m talking about philosophical thoughts and heavy social thoughts, matters of great importance, and at times it gets a bit much.
I was watching on the news about the death of Kobe Bryant, and the outpouring of grief from complete strangers, and for two days now I’ve been thinking about the human condition, and why it is we are so “connected” to celebrities, and what does that say about us normal people, and how about the ethnic cleansing going on and sex trafficking and where is the outrage over those things and . . .
Take a deep breath, Bill! You have a Mailbag to deliver.
Welcome to my brain! It really should come with a warning label.
From Denise: “Actually I see merit in rewrites, really I do. But isn't there such a thing as too much rewrite? My son wrote a sci-fi fantasy for young adults. I loved it. I bought it. Then he did a rewrite because someone suggested that it was "too long/fat" for the age group he was targeting. I disagreed because look at the Harry Potter books, but he did a rewrite and I bought them too (he broke up the original into a 4 book series). Then he did another rewrite because he got an agent and she suggested that he didn't get to the point/plot soon enough in the series and people were put off by that. So I bought the new rewrite edition of the series. Next someone suggested that there were too many characters and he wasn't getting to develop each enough to keep them all in. One character in the first chapter was for comic relief (I laughed and laughed) but he was told because that character didn't serve a purpose toward the plot he should be eliminated. I disagreed and then decided not to purchase the new rewrite series. Now he is telling me he is planning another rewrite. Isn't that overkill? At what point do you say you did the series justice and move on to the next series? I want to be supportive but this is too much! What do you think?”
I think it is too much, my apologies to your son, Denise. He may be suffering from “perfectionalism,” a fate worse than death for a writer or artist or musician.
Hell yes there comes a time when enough is enough. When you have done your best, it’s time to walk away, and yes, you can certainly improve upon “your best” at a later date, but Steinbeck and Lee and Hemingway could have said the same thing and even they walked away.
Put the pen down and walk away now!
Introverts to the Bone
From Eric: “A deep contemplative question. Why do most writers hate marketing and sales? Are we generally introverts maybe?”
Eric, I think a large percentage of writers, artists, and musicians are introverts. I have no statistics to back that up, but judging from all those in the Arts who I know, that is my conclusion.
Then add to that the number of writers who find marketing to be a bore, or nonsensical, or far too self-serving, and we come up with a rather small number of writers who actually enjoy marketing their own work.
I’m proud to say I am not among them.
Yin and Yang
From Zulma: “On another topic, have you ever been delighted and disappointed by a piece of writing?”
Only with everything I write, Zulma! LOL
Seriously, every article, every book, the whole ball of wax, there is something I like about each of them and something I wish I had done better. That’s just who I am, but I suspect a great many writers are the same.
We would have to sit down for a counseling session to get to the root of my “perfectionist” streak. I am never completely satisfied with anything I write. Never! I am convinced, with anything I do, that I could do better. I’ve always been this way, and I also chastise myself for not doing better.
Exhausting to say the least!
Also from Zulma: “I read a short story yesterday that had a good twist ending, but the details of the story itself were a letdown. For example, at the beginning of the story, the protag asks the reader if they have ever scorched their pachyderm. She then goes on to explain how she was baking a cake in the shape of a hippo, got distracted and it burned in the oven. Last time I checked, a pachyderm is an elephant, not a hippo. (Not sure why the editor didn't pick up on this.)
“Later on, I discovered errors that should not have occurred if the writer had done basic research. I'm not sure if he was lazy or sacrificed common sense for a cheap laugh.
“Now that I think about it, although the twist ending was good, I don't think it was actually realistic.
“What would possess a writer with an original take on an old story to write it in such a slipshod manner? And why would a respected magazine publish it?
“I don't understand the world anymore. Any insight from you would be sooooo appreciated.”
Zulma, I honestly believe it is a sign of the times. We have substituted speed and convenience for quality control. We are all about instant gratification and entertainment at higher internet access speeds. We have important things to do in life, and who the hell has time for high standards?
I hope I don’t sound facetious because I’m actually being serious. Craftsmanship takes too long and costs too much. And don’t even get me started on the drivel you can buy among the self-published works on Amazon. I’m all for self-publishing, and I’m all for self-expression, but for the love of God, how about having a little pride in your work?
My rant is over! Thanks a lot for spiking my blood pressure, my friend!
The Never-Ending Freak Show
One thing about being inside my brain, it’s never boring. I can entertain myself for hours and it’s all free. I guess that’s a good thing, right?
In case you were wondering, the rains continue here in the Pacific Northwest. The tv meteorologist said last night that it has rained every single day here in January except for the 1st. I better not hear a word about low water supplies this summer.
My memoir is selling well, thanks for asking, and thanks to those who purchased it. Your continued support of my humble offerings means the world to me.
And thank you to all of you who voted for me in the Hubbies. To win that award seven years in a row is humbling to the max.
Have a brilliantly-creative week and remember, please, do all things with love.
2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”