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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 296

Updated on February 17, 2020

Three Days of Sunshine

It’s amazing what a little sunshine will do for the soul, you know? After a dismal January which culminated in some of the worst flooding we have ever seen in these parts, we were graced with three days of sun and a peaceful, easy feeling, my shout out to The Eagles.

It’s a little bit like a writer who labors in obscurity for years. Sometimes all it takes is a small word of encouragement from a friend or family member, and the juices start flowing again and the fire burns brightly within that writer’s soul.

Have you been the much-needed sunshine for a writer lately? Just a word of encouragement, a verbal pat on the back, an atta boy to make them feel like what they do is important.

Just something to think about.

We have a full bag this week, so let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt!

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room!

Differing Approaches

From Chris: “Bill, I couldn't agree more that the speed of production is valued more than the quality of the product. Thanks for emphasizing it for us. My question is related to a small degree. Would you elaborate on these two methods of writing which are antithetical to each other? Right now I am in the middle of a story which I know I have been forcing from sentence one. It is not flowing. I am constantly backing up and "fixing" parts that are inconsistent.

“Then I would like you to contrast that with letting the story tell itself. I know it is good when I am writing as I see it happen in my mind. What do I do with the former? Keep it? Throw it out? How can I cultivate the latter?”

Chris, let me start by saying I never throw anything out. I’m a writing pack rat, my friend. I figure if it was good enough to inspire me to start a story or a novel, it is good enough for me to save in a “Someday File.” And that’s truly what I call that file. Someday I will return to those partially-completed stories and finish them, but only when I “feel it.”

Secondly, I never rush or force creative writing. I don’t trust myself if I’m writing with a self-imposed time limit. I’ve learned to trust my “muse,” and since I know you are an exceptional writer, you need to give your muse total trust as well.

How do you cultivate the latter? That’s the toughest of your questions. My muse comes to me when she damned-well feels like it. For me, my creativity flourishes when I don’t think about it. Out on a walk, doing yard work, playing with the dogs, going for a drive downtown, that’s when ideas and storylines come to me. How to cultivate? Don’t think about it would be my advice; leave it alone and then return to it in a couple days. Maybe your muse is just tired. Maybe she’s doing chores like I should be doing right now.

DASHES

From Kari: “All this talk of dashes has me wondering. What is the correct way to place a dash between two words? Do you leave a space before and after? Or, just put word-word? (BTW Zulma, I agree the practice is just odd.)”

Kari, I’ve written more about dashes in the last couple weeks than I had in years prior. Damn those dashes!!!!

I’m probably going to be corrected on this in the comment section, but here goes my understanding about dashes.

The en dash is shorter than the em dash and has a different usage. One would normally use the en dash in this way: The business was open for five years, 2000-2005.

The em dash is used more like a comma, and most proponents of the em dash put a space before and after it, as in this example: He wanted to call his father – John Davies – for advice. I did, however, find a couple people online who say there is no spacing before and after. Sigh!

I’m not too fond of the em dash, but that is purely a personal bias and it is unfounded. LOL

An Annoying Follower

From Fellow Hubber: “Legitimate question. Have you ever had a follower with maybe low social skills who leaves too many comments because let's face it they take effort to respond to and they try to teach or inform you as an authority on any toic you wrote on? I log on and at any time will have 15 comments. Sadly, 8 will be very long comments from this one person. I want to roll my eyes every time I see their name. It also makes me not want to log on or respond to anyone. What would Bill do (WWBD?)”

Actually, this has happened a couple times. It wasn’t the precise situation you are describing, but it was similar enough to count in this conversation. There was one guy, about seven years ago, who took a serious dislike to my articles. This was back when I wrote a lot about social issues and even politics. The guy would show up daily with some snarky comment. I totally ignored him and eventually he just faded into oblivion.

The second was a young woman who, I believe, was mentally imbalanced. Others who dealt with her thought the same. It was this creepy stalking kind of thing. I, and others, eventually reported her to HP and they kicked her off the site.

With your guy I would just ignore him. Don’t even write a response to his comments. I’m pretty sure he will fade into the woodwork eventually.

Good luck!

Annoying followers
Annoying followers

Summary on Hp Articles

From Ruby: “I have a question. I wrote my last article and a notice came up telling me that I hadn't written a summary, so I wrote one, but it wasn't there when I published the article. Did I miss a step? What do you click after writing the summary? Thanks for all you do for we Hubbers.”

Ruby, did you know there is a HubPages Writing Style Guide? I had no idea, but I found it while looking for an answer to your question.

I have no clue what happened with your summary. I assume you are talking about that section right after the title. After you wrote it, if you were in “edit” mode, it should have saved it. I’ve never clicked on anything after writing the summary and it’s always worked for me. Maybe I’m not understanding your question. Anyone out there with an opinion? Drop it in the comment section, please.

Ellipses and Em Dashes

From MizB: “Bill, I was going to mention the en dash, but I see that Brian beat me to it. Something about the em dash or long dash, as some people call it – I've noticed that some writers are replacing it with ellipses, which I don’t like at all. To me the ellipses should be reserved for their primary purpose, to replace text left out. I’m a fan of the em dash in creative writing for emphasis, not the ellipse. What do you think?”

I think you are and I are different, MizB, but we already knew that, didn’t we? I’m not a fan of the em dash, but I do love ellipses. LOL Go figure! To your earlier statement, I will confirm that ellipses are completely different than em dashes, so your observation is right on. I have to believe it’s because most people don’t have Clue One how to properly use ellipses.

Spell out Numbers

From Linda: “Hi Bill - I'm back, tilting at windmills (AKA Hub Pages editors). My latest beef is that they seem to have forgotten the rules from the AP Style Book (or the GPO Style Manual which at the Federal Government was the Bible of writing), or probably what your beloved teacher Sister Mary Katherine said: "Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence." What say you? Am I old school, behind the times, out of touch (how many more cliches can I use before you cut me off?) The editors change words to numerals, and I change them back. And on and on it goes.”

Oh here we go, Linda! “Katie bar the door” with this question. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, whole numbers from one through one hundred, round numbers and any number beginning a sentence should be spelled out. For other numbers, numerals are used. Sister Mary Katherine would agree with that summation.

On the other hand, I had an editor who once told me to spell out all numbers in my novel. I had another who told me to always spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence and then just be consistent from then on.

I’m going with Sister Mary Katherine on this one, but I’m sure someone is going to correct me in the comments.

P.S. I happen to think the HP editors are, at times, lacking in grammatical knowledge.

CONSISTENCY

From Eric: “Consistency is your middle name. Do you still work at that or is it like a free flow. And if so how long did it take you to reach that point. Of course this has to do with time set aside for novel writing also.”

Eric, just call me Mr. Free Flow. I no longer have to work at consistency. Mind you, it has taken me since 2006 to reach this point but yes, I’m finally there.

Childhood memories are great inspiration for me.
Childhood memories are great inspiration for me.

CREATIVITY

From Liz: “Thanks for sharing about inspiration. How much of your creativity in terms of plots comes from events you have come across in life and in the news and how much would you say is just off the top of your head and from your imagination? It's a fascinating exercise to analyze how a creative writer works.”

Liz, thanks for the question, and I agree it is fascinating to learn about the creativity of other writers.

The basic ideas for stories or novels come almost exclusively from events in my life and stories on the news. The actual stories, though, just sort of appear in my brain as I write them. I’ve mentioned before that I actually have no idea where a story is going when I start it. That is still true. I’ve written seven novels and six novellas, and every single one of them started with a random introduction/writing exercise. I then build the story based upon that introduction or prologue. About halfway through each of them, the ending will appear to me.

It works for me. I don’t think I would suggest it for others to try.

A Challenge

I’m challenging each of you to read an HP article this week by a writer you have never followed before. Read the article and then leave positive, encouraging feedback. Let’s fill the internet with some HP love for writers who may need it.

Are you with me?

Thanks a bunch! I hope to see you all next week in the Mail Room. Until then, remember, do all things with love.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You have your priorities, Mary, and that is fine. As long as you are enjoying your life, all is well.

      Welcome back my friend!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Bill. Like you, so many scenes come my way which are great for articles but, as always happens, I just don't write these immediately afterward. Most of the time, they are forgotten. My mind is full all the time but they very seldom get on paper.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, I will say this: not bad for you! LOL I'll be laughing throughout my Sunday, thank you very much.

      As always

      Your loving brother!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Suzie 

      12 months ago from Carson City

      Bro... I suddenly feel inspired. Will U please grade my poem?

      Billy Bro, You're such a treat

      But what U cook, we cannot eat.

      Just stay at UR desk

      & do what U do best.

      Let Bev man the kitchen

      And bake the chicken.

      The last time U tried

      We know U lied

      When U swore that U plucked the FEATHERS!

      Love, Ur ever-so-talented Sis :)

      Look, gimme a break. It's that time during winter, I just get stir-crazy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know what that means, Zulma, but it is all over the television here lately, and annoying the hell out of me.

      Two spaces after periods, took me a long time to stop doing that. Old habits die hard in old men.

      Happy Weekend my friend and thanks for those two cents.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Chris, you are a rebel with that em dash. lol Honesty, I think I'm too old to care about those rules any longer. I just write. If I annoy Sister Katherine and stain her memory, so be it! Thanks for the question, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nikki! Happy Friday and love to you as well.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill. My two cents, again.

      I've stopped using the double space after a period because, with the advent of computers and such, it's no longer necessary. The double-space rule came about because given the typesetting used it was easier to see when a new sentence began.

      The more you know...

      What exactly does that mean? Anyone?

      Catch you later, Bill.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      12 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Bill, when I realized you had posted the mailbag three days ago I...dashed...right over to read your hub. When I got here—an avalanche of dashes and dots practically buried me. But then I saw your answer to my question. Thank you for giving my question so much consideration. You suggested a couple of things that I will put into practice immediately. I have not written an exceptional story when I was under an artificial time limit. Also, my best work has never happened in response to a challenge with prompts—even your prompts. I've produced my best stories when I've waited for that magical inspiration and just wrote what I saw. I love those times. Ok, well...that's enough for now—I'll let you get on with your...day. By the way, I like the em dash with no spaces to bring about a pause in the narration.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      12 months ago from London

      So many meaningful questions and answers this week. I learnt quite a few of new things. And, yes, I would comment on someone's hub who is totally unfamiliar to fill the HP with some positivity.

      Happy Thursday, Bill.

      Love to Mr. & Mrs. Bill Holland!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, I hate to be the one to break this news to you, but you and I are dinosaurs from another time. I don't say that as a bad thing. In fact, I'm rather proud of it. But recognition of that fact might help you in coping in the future. lol

      love always

      Bro

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Suzie 

      12 months ago from Carson City

      As long as we're offering opinions, far be it from me to be left out, Bro. Maybe I have more of a "wish," than an opinion. I wish it was perfectly acceptable to write as we speak.I'm with you on "ellipses." When I'm talking with anyone, I do pause......add a word or phrase (possibly for affect) & then complete my thought. Why the big deal?

      And, Lord help us, one more time? Has the rule changed about TWO spaces after the end of a sentence? And what about the dastardly preposition at the end of a sentence? Is it still a mortal sin?

      I like to remind everyone of James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces." He broke every single rule in the book & by the way, reaped a few millions little bucks!!

      Peace & Love, Sis

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Venkatachari M, and speaking for my fellow writers, thank you for supporting those you do not follow or know. Every little bit of encouragement helps.

      Wishing you a brilliant weekend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think that's a good plan, Kari! I will do the same. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for all you said, LIz! I don't recommend my way of writing to anyone. It would drive most writers crazy, not knowing where the story is going. :) Happy Thursday to you!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      12 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      This one is full of packed intelligent questions and answers. The en-dash, em-dash, and ellipses are always conflicting and confusions creators among different editors. I use the endash only and there are very rare occasions of using ellipses.

      Regarding numbers, I think any title or sentence starting with a number should be in numbers only not spelled-out. And, it is always better to use numbers greater than 99 in the middle of a sentence instead of at the beginning so that they can be spelled out clearly without damaging the style.

      I keep reading articles of people whom I do not follow, occasionally.

      I wish you a nice coming-weekend.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      12 months ago from Ohio

      Thanks for all the information on dashes! I think I will use the en dash and ignore the em dash, lol.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Devika! Enjoy your warm days and send some our way please.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's funny you mentioned that, Ann. All this talk about dashes had me looking at my keyboard, and I don't have one either. lol I guess I don't have to worry about it if Gateway Computers doesn't care.

      Wednesday now, my friend, so have a wildly wonderful Wednesday!

      bill

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      I am pleased to hear that you have had sunshine, Bill. I think you sent the floods over to the UK. But you make a good point about encouragement.

      I was interested to read your thoughts on creativity. I have learnt a lot about dashes recently and now numbers too.

      I often struggle with the summary box and leave it until the end. Knowing that the first few words of the summary appear on Google makes me feel kind of pressuised to come up with a good one to attract readers.

      Thanks for answering the creativity question. I was impressed with how your plots develop. Your technique puts paid to the essay plan we were taught to make at school.

      You end with a great suggestion. I hope I can overachieve at least on this each week.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That made me laugh, Melissa! Good for you! I would ignore them too if I had your background.

      Happy Hump Day my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, I agree with you about Chris. He is a talented writer for sure. Ass for the ellipse substitution, well done!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Chitrangada Sharan. I love your name, by the way. It is melodic!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting Bill about the British and American English standard ad of y keyboard symbols. and agree with Ann Carr.

      W have had many warm days feels like spring has come earlier. You have shared important and great ideas to know of the English language issues to think of here.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      12 months ago from SW England

      Firstly, bill, I have read a couple of 'newbies' lately and left encouraging comments, so job done on that score!

      Dashes drive me mad and, reading the above, I think there are different rules with British v American English. We don't tend to use the 'long' dash at all which suits me fine, though today I found that HP has 'edited' one of my articles and replaced a series of short dashes with a long one - I don't care! It's in a recipe so makes no difference to me. I don't even have a long dash on my keyboard.

      The muse is definitely worth waiting for. I find that happens again and again and it's always productive.

      Have a terrific Tuesday, bill!

      Ann

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      12 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday--ugh, Tuesday, Bill! I am already behind for the week...Not a great way to start off, but at least I can always rely on the mailbag to arrive in a timely fashion, even if my responses are sometimes delayed. I have to laugh at all the en and em dash discussions. Twenty plus years ago, I started off as a proof reader of financial documents. It was very important to the underwriters that we follow their style and that meant making sure that the en or em dashes were used correctly per their underwriting guides (especially using correct typeface and fonts). I have happily ignored them for a couple decades now, lol.

      Hope you have a great and productive week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Verlie, intended or not, I caught your rhyme. :) Have a great week, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm in total agreement, Zulma. Give me creativity anytime over rigid rules, thank you very much, and the nuns that taught me can stick that in their pipe and smoke it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a lot, Linda, for always being here.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Never argue with the nuns that taught me, James. They swung a mean yardstick. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Alyssa, you, salty? Say it ain't so! lol The HP editors would make anyone salty, my friend. I am convinced they have no more experience than we do, and I'm also convinced that many HP writers have a lot more talent than the HP writers.

      Now who's being salty? lol Have a great day!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm not confused yet, MizB, and I appreciate you sharing. How about I just don't use either of them? Seems very simple to me. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's more than enough Heidi! Thanks a bunch for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It all starts with us, Bill. We will share our sunshine with you shortly. Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for those kind words, Lori. I really appreciate you buying my memoir.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy! It only makes it to the high forties, but the sunshine feels so much warmer than that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I missed that HP controversy, Flourish, and I'm happy I did. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rochelle! Take care of yourself and may blessings be your constant companion.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      12 months ago from Canada

      Morning Bill. So many rules, so little time. My punctuation skills are nil. But I do like to rhyme. Thanks for always delivering the mail on time. Cheers!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      12 months ago from london

      I feel good, Bro. This particular Mailbag is so much fun! Perhaps I'm one of the 'mentally challenged' people. (Chuckle)

      Chris is such an awesome writer! Tell him that Manatita says he thinks too much! Tell him to feel that Love is all that matters; that everything else could be taken lightly. Then his work will flow.

      P.S. I used the semi-colon above to replace 'and', but here ellipse (Three dots) could easily have worked for the 'pause' effect. Hope this helps.

      I remember the girl and one guy. In a strange way, I felt for the girl.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      12 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks for sharing another useful set of questions and answers. The question about dashes, made things clear. Other answers are also helpful.

      Good to know that you are getting lot of Sunshine. Life becomes dull without the Sunshine.

      I liked your advice about reading some new writer's work and encourage them with the comments.

      Thanks for sharing another wonderful mailbag. Its awesome to see that it would be completing another century.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      I suppose the real issue here is the language itself. English has so many rules and it seems for each rule there is an exception or ten. Ex. i before e as in 'thief' except for weird, forfeit, seize, etc.

      After I've revised something a few times I run Grammarly to pick up anything I've missed. We don't always agree but it's my story so what I say goes.

      I'm more interested in the reader understanding my intent rather than be a slave to rules.

      Catch you later, Bill.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This edition of the Mailbag contains some interesting questions. Congratulations on installment 296, Bill.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      12 months ago from Joliet, IL

      I looked at my Chicago Manuel of Style and the link provided by Heidi Thorne. Of course, the Chicago model said spell out numbers one to one hundred and those that begin sentences. Zulma and I spelled out only one through nine. That is the APA model. So, it depends on which one you follow. But, I'm not one to argue with nuns.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      12 months ago from Ohio

      A jam-packed mailbag this week! I love it!

      I, too, find that creativity strikes completely out of nowhere, when I'm doing basically nothing, and I also have a stack of ideas and half-written things that I've never thrown out. You just never know when you might need them or want to finish them. As for spelling out words, I learned something new. I was always taught that numbers one through ten should be spelled out, but anything after that should be the actual number. I didn't realize there was so much debate about it. haha! I'm probably in the camp of people who don't use ellipses right. I have a habit of just doing what feels right with my written grammer and I have no idea how to type an em dash. I suppose a quick Google search would inform me, but then again, I honestly don't care. I usually let the editors do their thing, roll my eyes at the changes they make, and move on. I've gotten better at crafting my articles to what they want, for the most part, but I'm still a little salty about their criticism toward my exclamation points and commas. Who doesn't appreciate a little enthusiasm and excitement in life? Besides, commas are awesome! haha! Have a wonderful week!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      12 months ago from Beautiful South

      Hi, Bill, re" the jerk commenter, I've finally learned there is a "deny" button on the comments section. Just don't let him on.

      We definitely agree on the mechanics of using dashes, Bill. You said that there are a couple of people on line who say there is no spacing before and after. I would be cranky and ask them to quote their sources, please. My sources are: 1. Chicago, 2. APA, which echoes Chicago and HP uses as their authority, and 3. The old AP Stylebook. So there, I ask them to trump me if they can. I like the em dash, but never for an identifying appositive. Why would anyone ever say "his father --John Davies -- ... unless he has more than one father? Did you know that if you only have one of something, one sibling, one aunt, etc. commas aren't necessary in that instance. If you have two sisters, you would say "my sister, Jane, said" to identify which sister, otherwise it is correct to say "my sister Jane said ..." Try this: “Janie had a blistering temper – hot enough to melt the chrome off a bumper.”

      As for the ellipses, I don’t like this usage: “Janie had a blistering temper … hot enough to melt the chrome off a bumper.” The reader really doesn’t know if something is redacted, as the video put it, or if it is being substituted for an em dash, which is being used for emphasis rather than a comma. But I guess in this case, it could be a little of both. Oh well. Are you confused yet, dear friend?

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      12 months ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Mailbag Monday and, this week, it's still Monday!

      Re: Numbers. I ran across this really helpful tip sheet from the University of North Carolina that I think easily sums up the rules on expressing numbers in APA.

      https://ssw.unc.edu/files/web/pdf/Current%20Studen...

      That's all I got this week. Have a great week ahead!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      12 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Nice week for the mailbag. So glad the sun finally came out, hopefully it continues. Have a great week.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      12 months ago from United States

      Great questions and answers. To Fellow Hubber, always ignore the long and/or argumentative commenters if they are people with nothing to say but prattle on or are baiting. I do this on social media too and it's very effective. When you don't bite, they move on to another target. As Bill did with one, you can report them to HP and they are good at taking care of them.

      Bill, I am enjoying your memoir very much. Congrats on a job well done.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I am happy that you have finally experienced a few days of sunshine. There were some excellent questions this week regarding the use of dashes, etc. Many of us derive our inspiration from childhood memories and living life in general. You are an expert in writing about your experiences and where your muse takes you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

      All of this hubbub about dashes and people disliking them so? I like them and use them whenever I want. I hated when HP made a big deal that there is no space between them and the words they are separating but otherwise I’m good with using them.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      Rochelle Ann De Zoysa 

      12 months ago from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

      You are an encouraging person Sir Billy :) I have poems like save it for later :) I agree one shouldn't force creativity :) Take care and God bless you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rarely do people say I helped with their sanity, Dora. LOL I'm so glad to hear it. Thank you my friend.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      This mailbag helps me regain confidence in my sanity. I was questioning it after some edits I had seen. Knowing I'm not alone is reassuring. Thanks.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for paying it forward, Denise. Blessings to you always.

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ouch, Mary, a poetry question. LOL Do you know who you are talking to? :) I'll see what I can muster up by next Monday, my friend. Thanks for the question.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, grammatical rules drive me nuts, and they seem to change as time goes by. I'm just an old-timers. I'll continue to do it the way I was taught by the nuns and be done with the controversy.

      I've been winging it my entire life. Why would writing be any different for me? lo

      Happy Monday Zulma!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a good life you have, Eric, so dashes be damned. Who needs rules anyway? Include me in that baseball catch. I think I've still got a couple good throws left in me.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You bet, Ruby! I hope that helped. I didn't feel like I had anything to help you with.

      Happy Monday my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts,Bushra. I hope you never have to report anyone. It is not a good experience.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate you doing that, John! It just might be the encouragement someone needs to carry on.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you LInda! I set out to have a conversational style, so I appreciate hearing that from you.

      Have a fantastic week in the sunshine,my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Monday Janine. Have fun with those girls of yours. We have sunshine for the next four days and boy am I happy about it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela. I do think consistency is just about as important as the accepted rules of grammar. It drives me crazy to see someone write ten and then a page later write 10. Attention to detail is important in any craft.

      Happy Monday my friend. Sunshine here so thank the gods.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      Now that's a full mailbag keeping you out of the sun. I think I will go find someone I haven't followed before and leave some positive feedback. You always leave positive feedback for me. Time for me to pay it forward.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      12 months ago from Brazil

      Great to see a full mailbag this week.

      I generally don't use the em dash. When proofing an article for my daughter, she sprinkled them around like confetti. Drove me nuts!

      I have a question about reading poetry. I struggle with it because I am uncertain whether I have the rhythm correct. I feel, I would enjoy it more if knew I was reading it the way it was intended to be read.

      I know you have many readers who enjoy writing poems. What am I missing?

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      Whole numbers from 1-100 are spelled out? I thought it was 1-10. I've been doing that for years and no one's ever called me out on it. You don't suppose that no one really knows what the rule is about numbers so they just make it up on the spot and swear it's gospel?

      Bill, it always makes me smile when you explain your method when it comes to writing. I always imagine a small crowd leaning towards their monitors, waiting with bated breath for the pearls of wisdom that will finally kickstart their own writing. Only to hear that your making it up as you go along. lol

      I get it though. There have been times when only a couple of sentences get typed up and that's as far as it gets. Other times a torrent of words spill onto the page that must be put into some coherent order. My favourite, though, is when your characters hijack the story and take it in a new direction. It's fun to see where it will lead.

      Have a good day, Bill.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great box of goodies today.

      Look at me not knowing the names for EM-dashes and ellipses.

      I am bored with rules for numbers. I cannot see starting a sentence with a numeral but I think the rest is the context of the sentence. I might have Mr. big pants speak with words and Joe the schmuck speak with numerals.

      Chastise me if you care to - Teach.

      I think I was a "stalked" of your reference.

      Dashes smashes!

      Why does 'edit' sound so much like 'idiot' - and yes I uses those quote marks wrongly so sue me.

      Just another grumpy Monday for me. Another holiday and backdoor football, golf, basket ball and baseball catch. Nerf wars will wait so at least I get some stuff done.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      12 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Thanks Bill. I might have had the article in edit mode, anyway I now know the probable problem. Cheers

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Anya Ali 

      12 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      I hate the idea of having to report anyone, so I hope it never comes to that. Most people who're annoying aren't evil, they're just a bit too earnest. Thank you for an interesting article.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      12 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Well this was a packed mailbag, Bill. Interesting questions and answers too. Glad to see you have finally had a couple of days of sunshine. We have had more rain so far this year than we had in the whole of 2019.

      I shall certainly take your challenge to read a HP article of a writer who I have never followed. I probably do that at least once a week anyway. OK, you have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Happy Monday Bill and thank you for tackling my question. Perhaps some of the editors at HP should sign up for your $50/month writing assistance.

      This was a heavy mailbag. I hope you had some help lifting it. I enjoyed the questions and all of your responses. What sets you apart is that you write in a very conversational way. What you write is exactly like sitting across the table from you with a cup of coffee.

      I will follow your advice and find someone new on HP and give them a kind word or two. We all need that at times. Thank you for your encouragement and for all that you do for us.

      Have a great week my friend.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      12 months ago from New York, New York

      Finally some sunshine here, as well after two weeks of off and on rain. Crazy as we have had no snow really this winter, but tons of rain. But still glad it is sunny as my girls have off this week for Winter Break and going to try to make the most of it hopefully. But had to stop in and wish you a very Happy Monday and week ahead now :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Happy Monday, Bill!

      You sure had a large group of different good questions. I think Hubpages wrote about numbers in one of their weekly emails. If I recall correctly they wrote about consistency. If you spell out a number then all numbers should be spelled out in the article. And, vice versa, if you just use the number in the beginning of the article, then do the same throughout. I don't know if that is helpful to this conversation.

      I found many of your answers applicable to my writing, so, thank you. Have a good week, Bill with hopefully less rain.

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