The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #305
Are We Having Fun Yet?
I was thinking the other day about how incredibly blessed I am. I make money doing something I love to do. I don’t have to alter my lifestyle because of the pandemic. I really have no financial concerns. I have good health and I am surrounded by love.
Not bad at all!
Of course I understand that people are suffering, but this is my truth and my story. I am blessed!
I wish, for all of you, peace of mind during these hard times.
And now, for your entertainment and edification, I give you The Mailbag!
How Is Boredom Possible?
From Ann: “So, I have a question: How would you 'jump-start' anyone who claims to be 'bored'? What fire and damnation could you aim at them in order that they never felt bored again?! It's just a fun question so you can ignore it if you like, bill. I just can't understand those who say it.’
Honestly, Ann, I don’t either. I still have a fond memory of me saying those words to my father one Saturday morning when I was maybe ten or eleven. He told me he was pretty sure he could help me with that problem, and then I spent the next six hours doing yardwork.
There was an online friend who recently posted those words on Facebook. She was bemoaning the fact that the parks and beaches were closed in her city, and she was bored to tears. Quite frankly I found her moaning to be a bit insulting and insensitive. I would imagine all of those people in the ICU’s and on ventilators would be happy to be bored right about now.
I don’t know what to say to make people enjoy life more. I look around me and I see opportunity. Others look around and see a dismal landscape. Maybe it’s just the way we were raised.
Problems With the Law
From Mr. Happy: “Ohh, I got a question!! As I was starring at the "publishing rights" sub-title, I remembered one of my long-standing questions about writing: say I am writing a story, article, memoir and there are matters of illegalities being written about ... could that be considered as "evidence" in a court of law?”
I have to say, Mr. Happy, this one has never been asked in over five years. Congratulations on your originality.
I’m just guessing but I would say yes, your writings could be used against you. When posted online they become public record. Since it comes from you, it can’t be argued that it is hearsay. My gut feeling on this is never write about illegalities you may have performed. Never! Ever! Let that sleeping dog lay undisturbed, if you get my drift.
This actually falls under two categories of legal evidence, namely documentary and digital.
Which Way to Go on New Book
Also from Ann: “I have another question, bill, on a subject you might have already dealt with. I have several short stories which I'm trying to put together, as well as my 'Take a Word..' series. Which do you think would work better? I have a feeling it would be the short stories but even then I'm not sure if there's a big enough market for them. I would like your esteemed advice please.”
Ann, I’m going to vote for a short story anthology instead of the “Take a Word” series. I just think there is a bigger market for short stories, and that is nothing more than a gut feeling.
Having said that, neither is likely to garner you much in the way of royalties. A collection of short stories written by Stephen King has sold quite well, but that’s only because he was a famous author prior to publishing his short stories. If he had been an unknown, his collection would have collected dust.
The “Take a Word” series is unique, which is a mark on the plus side of the ledger. It might sell reasonably well with the proper type of marketing, but I just think that’s a tough sell, you know? Of course, back in 1975, Gary Dahl made quite a bit of money selling pet rocks, so with the proper marketing campaign, at the absolute best time, anything is possible.
As you well know, Ann, it’s a bit like catching lightning in a bottle. It’s possible, but the odds are against it. Still, I think you should go ahead. It costs absolutely nothing to self-publish either of them, so why not? Then, if you are feeling extra energetic, you can dazzle us all with your marketing skills.
How Is Voice Created?
From Angela: “I’ve read articles by you, Bill, about establishing our voice as writers, and I understand what you are saying. I guess what I’m asking is where does our voice come from? What is the main contributor to our writing voice?”
It’s a fascinating question, Angela, and I’m pretty sure I could write about twenty-thousand words on this topic.
I think voice comes from many sources, and I think it is partially intentional and partially a product of the life we have lived. Allow me to explain.
I have written a number of novels in a series called “The Shadow Series.” They are dark novels. They have violence flowing through them. My voice in them is a bit macabre, to say the least. Part of that “voice” in those novels was simply invented by me. I purposely developed that style for those books, but the fascination with evil, which is the central theme of the books, came from having Ted Bundy, infamous serial killer, as our paperboy when I was growing up. I think that fact also added to the voice I created.
The best example of my writing voice is in this response. I write, naturally, in a conversational manner, like you and I are sitting at a table, visiting as old friends do. I am a storyteller, but I’m the type of storyteller best exemplified by an old man sitting on a porch step, whittling on a stick, talking to his grandson. But even that is partially-contrived. I “set out” to write this way, so how natural is that?
I guess what I’m saying is there is no single answer to that question. I think your “natural voice” will come in time, with continued writing practice, but I also think you can alter your voice to suit a particular novel or short story, and I think all manner of voices are affected by who we are and what we have experienced during our lives.
End of sermon!
I was watching a movie with Lake Bell in it. For those who don’t know, Lake Bell is a brilliant comedic actress and writer, and she currently stars in a television series “Bless This Mess.” The movie she was in was filmed five years earlier than the television series, but it was the same Lake Bell, same mannerisms and same way to deliver a line.
Her “voice” shines through in everything she does.
I’m sure that example relates to the question in some way.
Are You Bored Yet?
You better not be, or you’ll have to answer to me and Ann. LOL
Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Stay safe and stay healthy. If you need a writing coach, you know how to find me. I work cheap and I get results.
You can also find me on my writing blog “Artistry With Words.
Until next week, remember, do all things with love.
2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)’
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”