The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 297
Good Day Sunshine
That’s what I have Alexa playing right now, “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles. “I was alone, I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there,” and everybody, sing with me, “Got to get you into my life!”
Turns out he was talking about hash or some other popular drug of the time. LOL And here I thought it was a feel-good love song meant for sunny days like today. It’s all about interpretation, right? I was looking at the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. The artist said it was about nature screaming with anxiety and fear. I thought it was about mankind screaming. Shows you what I know, which isn’t much.
Oh well! I’m singing it and enjoying the hell out of it this Friday morning. Today is a day for singing and riding in a convertible with the top down and remembering that first kiss.
And today is a day for the Mailbag! Thanks for joining us. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. We all learn about writing (and life) from each other, so anything you have to add is welcomed.
Let’s do this thing!
Help for a Novice
From Richard: “Bill, I’m brand new to writing and I’m quite intimidated, not knowing just how to ‘kick start’ this endeavor. I’m still trying to figure out Hub Pages. I signed up using my laptop with Microsoft OS and thought Hub Pages was about the poorest looking website I’d ever seen. Since then I’ve started using an iPad and what a difference! Why is that?
“There was the mention of mail boxes in HP. Should I have that as well?
“Thanks for any help you have for a novice. Really love your writings.”
Richard, I don’t even know where to begin, but welcome to HP!
Seriously, I don’t have a clue about the Microsoft OS and iPad being of different quality. Anyone out there know what that is all about?
HP mailboxes? I know we can send emails to each other. Once you sign up you automatically have that capability. I think it’s called fan mail or something like that. There is a link you can click to send a message to anyone on HP. Go to their profile, I think, and you will see the link. And if you receive a message, a notification should appear in your email.
My recommendation: write a few articles and get your feet wet. Pay attention to what other established writers do. You really can’t go wrong if you follow the 1250 words, three photos, two videos rule of thumb for each article. And, by the way, your first article was very good!
Poetry and Rhythm
From Mary: “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?”
Oh God, Mary, not a poetry question. LOL You can take my combined knowledge about poetry and it wouldn’t fill up a thimble. I always struggle with the same thing and I’m starting to believe it’s not my fault. Maybe I’m just reading some really bad poetry. I hope all the HP poets are laughing right now, because I’m mostly joking.
There are some very good poets on HP and I have no problem following their rhythm. I can’t say that about all poets, though, and that leads me to the aforementioned theory about quality. And I think the same can be said about those who write prose. A well-crafted story is much easier to follow than one done by a novice. A story flows and has rhythm, just like a poem does, and the flow happens smoothly in the hands of a good writer.
I’m going with that, Mary. There’s nothing wrong with you and me. It’s the poets who need to improve. LOL God I hope my poet friends know I’m joking right now.
From Bob: “What are you working on lately, Bill? What can we look forward to in the future?”
Well, Bob, hopefully I live long enough to do the following, in this order:
- Finish my latest Shadow book, “Shadows Across the Pond.”
- Write my 60’s novel about the loss of innocence
- Re-write my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today”
- Write the sequel to that first novel
- Write my second memoir about life with my dog Maggie
And somewhere in there kick-start my podcast career.
What are the odds I get all of that done?
How about all of you? What are your writing plans for the future? What are your goals? Share them in the comment section. I would love to know.
From Angela: I’m curious, Bill, how is your coaching coming along? Any customers taking you up on that ridiculously-low price that you are charging?
Thanks, Angela, and yes, I have had six new students in February and I am now signing up for March. It’s going really well. It’s fun to work closely with a writer. I can give so much instruction through emails, and a month is quite a bit of time to fine-tune the work of any writer.
Anyone out there interested in signing up for March? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you signed up.
Is Grammar Ever Wrong?
From Pete: "I find myself struggling at times with rules of grammar. I will write a sentence, which is grammatically correct, and yet it just doesn't feel correct to me. Does that happen to you? Is it possible that proper grammar can be wrong?"
Oh hell yes, Pete, all the time, my apologies to the brutal nuns who taught me in elementary school.
Here's the way I handle it: I run it through the Sound Test. Read the sentence out loud. If it sounds fine, go with it. If it sounds stilted or contrived, change it, and grammar be damned. Especially when writing dialogue: writing dialogue is a bit like having a "get out of jail free" card. You might as well enjoy it since you have it and make a jail break.
"Would you like to go out to eat with Bob and me?"
Grammar geeks will tell you that you should substitute "I" for "me" in that sentence. It has been debated for years. My take on it: which sounds better? To me, "me" works perfectly while "I" sounds stilted.
Have you ever split an infinitive? May the grammar gods curse you until your death for doing so, and yet I have done it often simply because it fits the flow of the story better than correct grammar.
Don't get hung up on this matter. Go with the flow!
Short One Today, but the Weather Is Gorgeous
I don’t mind shutting down early today if you don’t. We are all busy and there is no sense dragging this out if the supply of questions has dried up. Let’s all go forth and do some good today. What say you?
Thanks for joining us in the Mail Room today. If you have questions for next week, just include them in the comment section. Until then, I wish you all a brilliant week ahead, and blessings always.
Good day, sunshine!
2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”