The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #306
Truthfully, I’m a much more introspective guy today than I was decades ago, and I suppose that’s true for most of us, right? When we are young we are far-too busy doing things, experiencing life, and wringing every ounce of fun we can out of each moment; we simply don’t take the time to look at life, and the world around us, and give it all any serious contemplation. I mean, I was in college during the Age of Aquarius and the Vietnam War. Of course both of those historical events affected me at the time, but I didn’t really sit down and ponder them in Aristotle-like bliss at that time. Deep philosophical debates and discussions didn’t happen, for this boy, until much later.
Today I spend more time contemplating than doing. LOL And COVID-19 has given me permission to sit on my butt and Plato the hell out of the universe in the year 2020.
These are fertile times for writers. I hope you are spending some time during this lockdown honing your craft and adding to the discussion. Writers are needed.
You are needed!
Let’s see what mail we have today.
More on Incriminating Oneself
From Mr. Happy: “Thanks for answering my question. What about if one wrote under an alias? Like Soren Kierkegaard, writing under the pseudonym of Johannes di Silentio to some say, stay away from any backlash from the Catholic Institution. Hunter S. Thomson was Raul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Well, we all know he was but in the book he was Raul Duke, not Hunter S. Thompson.”
I hear what you are saying, Mr. Happy. There is, for sure, a layer of insulation when you hide behind an alias. My only concern is this: If we are talking about a crime of some sort, a crime which still sits within the Statute of Limitations, then why take the chance? Who knows if that alias will be discovered? To me it’s just not worth the risk, you know?
I have never committed a “major” crime but, if I had, I sure as heck wouldn’t be writing about it, under my name or an alias.
Call me chicken! lol
Sharing Some Info
My friend, Heidi Thorne, recently conducted a book review survey, and you can watch her video and see the results by following this link. Heidi is a whiz kid when it comes to self-publishing and marketing, so I highly recommend you watch that short video for valuable information.
I told her I would share that video and I have now done so.
And one more word about Heidi: If you are like me, and I suspect most of you are, you despise marketing. You love to write but you have no desire shining the spotlight on yourself.
I get it! I really do. But if you have any desire whatsoever to actually sell your writings, you need to embrace marketing, and in my humble opinion Heidi Thorne is the lady you should be following, on HP or on Facebook or on her website.
What Should I Write About?
From Richard: “I’ve wanted to be a writer for decades, but life always got in my way. Now I’m retiring, and I have the time, so no excuses there. But I don’t know what to write about or how to get started. Can I make money writing, or should I just concentrate on satisfying my own inner voice? Do I need a blog? Should I enter contests? For whatever reason I feel overwhelmed by it all before I even begin. Can you help?”
Richard, I’ve been there and I’ve done that!
There are two extremes to the “activity” scale: those who think about doing something are one end of the scale, and those who actually do something are on the other end. In-between those two extremes are millions of people in varying degrees of “doing,” if you get my drift.
Some people have an idea, and they have the desire, but they think the thing to death. They worry about the particulars, and fear eventually cripples them. Some people, like me, just dive in and to hell with the outcome. I was in the same boat as you ten years ago. I wanted to be a writer. I had retired early and I wanted a writing career. I had no idea how to do it. I had no idea if it was even feasible. I just dove into the deep end and, hallelujah, it worked out.
You’ve asked a lot of questions, and there are books written about all of those questions, so there is no way I can tackle it all in the Mailbag. Just let me say this about that: If you really have a passion to write, you should write. Don’t worry about the right path. I suspect that path will become apparent in time. Don’t worry about blogs or contests or HP. Just hone your craft and write!
In your spare time you can research the different aspects of the writing game, but in my opinion you first need to scratch that itch, have fun writing, and become a better writer. The rest will come.
Best wishes to you!
Can I Deduct Writing Expenses for Tax Purposes?
From Adelle: “I’m a freelance writer newbie, just started this year, and I’m wondering about expenses and tax deductions. What can I deduct on my taxes?”
Great question Adelle! Make sure you declare your “freelance writing business” under income avenues on the tax forms. If you are going to deduct expenses then you need to dive all the way in and declare yourself as a freelance writer and declare yourself as a business.
Once you’ve done that, know this: Consult a qualified tax advisor about your specific case, but in the United States you would use a Schedule C and can deduct such expenses as paper, postage, computer equipment, dues in writing organizations, books and magazines necessary for research, seminar fees, and travel that is strictly necessary for your freelance work.
I need one. Any recommendations? I’m not rolling in dough, but I definitely need a new laptop soon. What do you suggest?
From a purely reflective standpoint, the next year or two are going to be fascinating. Will people alter their lifestyles to adjust to the “New Reality?” Will more and more downsize and turn to a simpler lifestyle? Will there be an economic upheaval and a New World Order in the World of Finance? I truly don’t think people understand how this will affect our economy for years to come. A country just doesn’t bounce back quickly from something like this; it takes years to recover. The New World Order may not be a pleasant sight – or we may like it! Who really knows?
Stay tuned! No matter what happens, it’s going to be fascinating to witness.
Have you given any thought to hiring a writing coach? I’m available, and I’m cheap. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk about it. And if you have a question for the Mailbag, you can use that email address or include the question in the comments below.
Oh, by the way, I’m getting closer and closer to doing my first podcast. I finally decided upon a format and topic, so that was a huge step. Now to actually make the darned thing.
Stay safe, stay healthy, be happy, and do all things with love.
2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”