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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #310

Updated on May 25, 2020

A Day in the Life

So I’m walking the dogs yesterday, as is my norm, and it’s a pretty good day mid-60’s, calm winds, no rain, a good one for walking. I walk them separately because, well, siblings can be a bit rambunctious when they want to be. It’s just easier for me to take two walks of peace rather than one walk of chaos, you know?

Maggie, who usually goes bat-shi# crazy when another dog is in the vicinity, walked peacefully by three dogs, but went Rambo on an eighty-five year old woman walking on the other side of the street. Toby, who usually loses it with squirrels, paid nary a notice of squirrels on that walk, but lost his cool when a leaf floated down from a maple tree.

Perceived threat vs actual threat, and I’m going to venture a guess here that it’s the same no matter which species we are talking about.

And then we get into the whole relativity thing, and pretty soon my head is spinning.

Welcome to my world! If any of you truly understand dogs and their behavior, I’m all ears. Come to think of it, after watching the news last night, if any of you truly understand humans and their behavior, I’m all ears for that as well.

Let’s do this mailbag thing, shall we? The bag is full and I need to lighten my load.

The Mail Room
The Mail Room

More on Covid as a Backdrop

From Liz: “I agree with your point about COVID-19. Would you also rule out using this period as a back drop to a novel, rather than writing specifically about it?”

I wouldn’t have any problem doing that, Liz. In fact, I’m currently working on a novel, and I was debating whether to include the virus or not. I opted for not, but I was close to going in that direction.

More on the Importance of Writing

From Ann: “So here's a question: What would you say comes second to quality of writing, in the importance stakes?”

Ann, I so love your questions.

I’m winging this answer. I would probably give you a different answer in six months, me being a flighty sort of guy, but I would say the ability to tell a story well. Some people are natural storytellers. Some are not. Some writers are natural storytellers. Some are not.

What makes a good storyteller? I’m not sure I can answer my own question, but I know one when I read their work or hear their words. My Uncle Jim was a natural. He would go up to Alaska for six months every year, working for a dredging company, and he would come back with stories which just fascinated me. He just had a way, you know, of keeping me in my seat, hanging on his every word.

If a novelist isn’t a natural storyteller, I think it shows.

Be very careful writing a memoir or an autobiography!  Naming real people is like walking across quicksand.
Be very careful writing a memoir or an autobiography! Naming real people is like walking across quicksand.

Using Only Dialogue

From John: “I recently wrote a poem in my latest Poems From the Porch which is only using dialogue between a doctor and patient. This is easy to do in a poem but how difficult and effective would it be to write a whole story using only dialogue and nothing else?

“I have read of a few stories that have been done this way recently.”

John, I think it would be nearly impossible. That’s just my opinion, but that’s what you asked for, so there you go. It might be an interesting challenge, come to think of it. I would love to see the responses to that challenge. Is it possible to sustain conflict throughout an entire short story using only dialogue? My mind breaks into a sweat just thinking about it, but I might give it a try next week. Why not, right?

Going Viral

From Mike: “Bill, I've gone viral!! I have no idea how or why but that hub about the lightning touched something and over the past two days it has gotten over 50,000 reads! I have never gotten anywhere near that kind of response before.

“My question is, I have only made a little over $33 dollars for those reads. For me, it would normally take me three months or so to hit the payout level of $50 and with the way they have diminished things lately I am only getting a couple of bucks a month. My reads have dropped dramatically, especially in the Labrador hub. It was getting over a hundred a day for months then dropped to ten to twenty a day and has been that was for close to seven or eight months now. So this viral thing has me confused about the payment level as well as why in the world this has gone nuts. My son called me "clickbait", whatever that means.”

It's got me confused as well, Mike. Honestly, this whole payment thing with HP and Maven just seems so random. I know it isn’t, but it sure does fluctuate wildly at times.

Congratulations on that viral thing. I wish I had an answer for you, but the HP payout has had me confused for a long, long time. I’m sure they have algorithms figuring it all out, and percentages based on whatever, but the consistency of it all seems so, well, inconsistent.

Bottom line, Mike: I have no explanation for it all. Maybe one of our readers will have a logical explanation, so check the comment section.

For me, going viral is akin to swimming across that lake in five minutes.
For me, going viral is akin to swimming across that lake in five minutes.

Less Formal Writing

From Mary: “I agree about the tooth decision as I made the same decision last year and never went back to the same dentist. Anyway, I wish I can ramp up quickly and often in my writing. Right now, am trying to make my writing less formal as in research. I want it to be more informal and not boring. Any ideas?”

It’s tough, Mary, to switch from formal to informal. It really is, and I sympathize with you.

Let’s look at the general principles of formal writing:

  • Adheres strictly to the rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Doesn’t have a relaxed conversational style
  • Sticks to the point
  • Is usually third person point of view, not first or second person

To go informal, do the opposite!

Seriously, it takes practice. You need to break a habit, one formed over years, and the only way to break that habit is to practice and practice some more. Break some rules, write like you are talking, get rid of structure, and try writing in first person. I know you can do it.

More on Autobiographies

From Dora: “I'm confused about the autobiography. Doesn't the writer commit to being honest, transparent and vulnerable? Anything else would be labelled fiction, I thought.”

Such is the dilemma anyone faces when doing a memoir or an autobiography, Dora. Responding directly to your comment, though, one can be 100% truthful and simply leave something out, like a name or five. Total transparency it is not, but it also isn’t fiction. Consider it an abridged version of the truth, rather than an altered version of the truth.

That Whole Perceived Threat Thing

Seems to me there’s a lot of that going around lately. I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods, but around our neighborhood, many people refuse to make eye contact while out walking. I’ve noticed this more among the younger walkers. They will not look at me, or others, while they are walking. That doesn’t stop me from forcing matters and saying hello to them. LOL Evidently I’m seen as a threat, and I guess I understand it, but I also find it sad. Perceptions are not always correct, you know? And I would hate to live a life where everyone I met was looked upon as a threat first and a human being second.

I just think we need to work on that a bit. We need more connections, not fewer, end of rant, and I’ll see ya later, gators!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Lora, I'm glad I saw this before finishing up the Mailbag. I almost missed it. The answer to your question is coming Monday, but the quick answer is "Resurrecting Tobias," which is me through and through.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      5 weeks ago

      I love your opening about your dogs! I can just picture those scenes in my mind especially as I used to have quite a free-spirited dog myself who was governed by his nose and his own mind. He could be quite unpredictable at times. It seemed like I was always trying to second guess what he was going to do. I have a question for you, Bill. Would you say there is a character in your novels that is like you in many ways? Do you think that writers subconsciously project themselves in the characters that they write about or aspects of themselves in characters that they write about in their stories? It seems that it would be almost natural to do this. And if so, is this character a protagonist in your novel(s) or do they play a more minor role? Wonderful mailbag this week. Take care.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that very much, Devika. Thank you!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Bill you have helped us with many answers and it tells me you know what you are talking about here. Always so helpful and to the point thank you for this hub.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting thoughts, Venkatachari M. Thanks for sharing that. You just might be correct and I hadn't thought of that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      We all learn from this forum, Dora, so thank you for being a part of the discussion.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! What's impressive is that you've been here for it all.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I will see what I can do, John! I would hate HP to not allow it after the effort was made, but I guess there's no way to know except to just do it.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      5 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting mailbag as is always.

      I realize the stigma being experienced by you, Bill. I think it is due to the repeated instructions and appeals issued by the health ministries and other professionals that older people are more prone to COVID attack. Now, the public thinks that we might be having the virus in us and that's why they try to avoid us. It's a fear complex instigated by the announcements.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for all the answers, especially for the answer to my question. I learn much from the perspectives shared in the mailbag. Thanks also to those who ask questions.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The questions that you're asked and your answers are always interesting. Thanks for sharing another installment of the mailbag, Bill. 310 editions is impressive.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate you finding the time to visit, sowspeaks. You are always welcome!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks William! I'll go check your latest out very soon.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Very wise words, Rajan! Who knows what the future will look like? And how will we react to it?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for the information, Flourish! I just learned something, and for that I'm grateful.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Bill, and you have a great week too. If I ever see you out walking, I promise I'll respond with "hi, how are you, Bill?"

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      There she is! Howdy, Janine! Thanks so much for finding the time for moi. Have a fantastic week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I think that is a remarkable thing, those storytelling festivals. I love that idea. If I had the ambition I might start something like that. Thanks for the idea, Meg!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, Alyssa! Clean the car? I've had this current pickup truck for a year and haven't washed it yet. I have this theory that pickup trucks should never be washed. lol I know, I'm weird!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Mr. Happy, some time in a cottage sounds perfectly lovely. Getting out of city life is always good for the soul, yes? My wife and I drove the dogs out into the country last night for an illegal walk. We snuck onto the army base and walked about in the woods. I suppose I should be happy we weren't shot during basic training. :) It was a lovely walk and we managed to avoid the authorities, so it was a win-win.

      Be well my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You covered it all with panache, Heidi, and I would expect nothing less.

      A novel about the Spanish Flu? There must be one, right, but no, I can't name it and wouldn't read it anyway, not unless it was a murder mystery. lol

      Thanks for being here. You are invaluable in my humble opinion.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mary! I think this whole social distancing thing is fascinating. I do wonder how it will affect us all after the restrictions are lifted. Will we be friendlier, or will we all become introverts afraid of our own shadows?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting, Mel, about the views. I've been here over eight years, and I've never understood how they determine views and payments. Good thing I don't much care.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, about five times each summer we will hit 90. I fade from existence during those five days. I'm with your hubby on this one, my friend.

      As for videos, it's just a habit of mine now to include two of them. I don't think I've ever had one snipped, but it's possible. I don't pay enough attention to the HP staff to really know what they are doing. :)

      Happy last week of May, my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy! We are about to see an inundation of COVID-19 "entertainment." How can it be ignored? It is our new reality!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot, Verlie, that's a pretty nice thing for you to say to me. Thank you very much, my friend. Have a spectacular week as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, it is always a pleasure to read your words and find insight in them. May your heart always speak to those willing to hear, my friend. Thank you and blessings always.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Great mailbag this week, Bill, and thanks for answering my question. You said you may try to write a dialogue only story next week and I hope you do although Eric’s comment that HP won’t allow it is a worry. I read that Neil Gaiman wrote one story that way and I guess a courtroom drama may allow for a large portion of a story to be written that way. Why articles (especially older ones) suddenly go viral is a mystery unless an event occurs that makes them suddenly topical.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      5 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Some different kinds of questions this week. Interesting as were the responses, Bill. Now, back to squirrel chasing.

    • Sowrabha Mahesh profile image

      sowspeaks 

      5 weeks ago from Bengaluru

      Bill, discovered your mailbag sometime back and decided that here is some interesting stuff to read and today i actually did and so glad for it. Lots of comments waiting from my end and could not but enjoy your observations on the dog and like you put it true of every species. Will be back. Take care.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      People will take a pretty long time to come through this virus threat. Who knows we will see a different way of being social. This whole covid thing has shaken our belief systems to the core and becoming normal will neither be easy nor will it come soon.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Sometimes you don’t know why those articles go viral. Someone may have tweeted it or put it in a popular Reddit forum and it took off. Look in your stats section for hints. The money earned is more of a Google thing, based on keywords and the (changing) value of the cost per click.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Another excellent mailbag, Bill. Odd behavior by the pups, when we had a dog I always wished that I knew what she was thinking. They are amazing creatures.

      When out walking we always greet people with at least a “hi, how are you?” When people don’t reply I guess I never thought that perhaps they think we are a threat of some kind. Although with this whole virus thing maybe that’s behind it?

      Have a great week.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Finally playing a bit of catchup this evening after the long holiday weekend. And I had to stop in to read your weekly mailbag, of course. Happy I did and now want to wish you a wonderful week ahead!! :)

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      6 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

      In our neighbourhood, some people will jump into the road without even looking for a car, just so they don't have to pass within 6 feet: some of them make it 12 feet! It's annoying to my husband, I just ignore it.

      In terms of storytelling, there is a storytelling course, here in Northern Ireland. It is for those who want to tell stories around the fireplace (or wherever). It won't be on at the moment, of course, but hopefully it will start again when all this nonsense is over. There is even a story telling festival in the Glens of Antrim, not far from here. Maybe going on a story telling course for telling stories out loud would help people craft stories for putting down in an interesting way on paper?

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      6 weeks ago from Ohio

      Hahahaha! I love that ending.. you forcing matters and saying hello despite others' attempts to dodge socialization :) I haven't actually ventured too far out myself. Two weeks ago I had a spark of ambition, cleaning and vacuuming out the car. I was fully prepared to wash it at home, but my husband said, "let's go to the carwash and get lunch." Who am I to turn down lunch? Another excellent mailbag. I hope you have a lovely week!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 weeks ago from Toronto, Canada

      "I would say the ability to tell a story well" - I've spent a good time of my last eleven years haning out with Native people, on different Reserves, different regions ... they all have story tellers (one of the reasons I love hanging out on Reserves) and amazing ones at that but they do not write. Some even frown upon writing. It's all about "story telling"; not reading and/or writing. Haha!! I'm just gonna shrug at this as You might have done at your dogs' behavior. Who knows?

      "how difficult and effective would it be to write a whole story using only dialogue and nothing else?" - I am not sure if I ever read a story with absolutely only dialogue. I would tend to think a few lines here and there without dialogue might be needed. I have done that though. I have a story written which is probably like 95% dialogue. That story has an "eyes only" designation though, haha!!

      "My son called me "clickbait", whatever that means.” - Haha!! Too funny! Yes, please do not be a "click-bait". Many will not forgive You.

      "It’s tough, Mary, to switch from formal to informal." - How is it tough? Do we speak the same when we are in a business meeting, or talking to a politician as we do when we are talking to our best friend? We switch so, in the same manner I can switch from essay writing (formal), to just telling You a story (shooting the shit as they say). It's like dressing to go to a wedding, or dressing to do some gardening. Just hop-in different cloths (tone, words, structure, etc.).

      "one can be 100% truthful and simply leave something out" - I fully agree here: just because I am not telling someone something does not mean I am lying, or being untruthful. To each their own, in terms of knowledge as well.

      "many people refuse to make eye contact while out walking" - Eye contact is important pour moi. I do not like speaking with people wearing sunglasses for example. I need to see people's eyes when I am speaking with them in person, especially the people I do not know well. Otherwise, we have no trust and we'll go nowhere.

      Alrighty, I'm boiling here ... haha!! I remember complaining to You a couple of weeks ago about snow. Now, I'm sitting at my computer desk typing and sweating. I'm off to a cottage tomorrow. City life is getting to me and last year at this time I was hiking miles and miles.

      You be well and thank You for the writing.

      All the best!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Oh boy! Good thing it's a holiday so you had a moment or two to dig into these juicy questions.

      Re: Dogs. I don't know if you follow "alexadry" here on HP. But she writes about dogs and their behavior. Today's post: Studies on dog peeing positions. Worth a read.

      Re: COVID Conundrum. Yes, the whole COVID crisis could be a backdrop for a novel or two or three hundred. But let's put it to this test to see if it's worthwhile. Name a classic or popular novel that used the Spanish Flu or Hong Kong flu as a backdrop. I thought so.

      Re: Dialogue-ing. Possible, not easy. That means the speakers have to fill in too many blanks to figure out what's going on. Imagine this. "Well, Bill, I don't think so. I'm scrunching up my face in disbelief at your suggestion."

      Re: Going Viral (No Timely Pun Intended). I've had the surprise post that seems to skyrocket for no apparent reason. This is something you absolutely cannot control. It's not really an HP thing, it's a Google thing. Enough said.

      Re: Less Formal. I say take out a voice recorder (oops, I almost said tape recorder--Boomer moment) and record all your thoughts and thought fragments. Then transcribe them. That'll be really informal. BTW, I'm doing just that with my podcast recordings and, geez, I'm so informal. Also, BTW, I'm using transcription at Temi.com which is pretty cheap as transcription goes and its AI to transcribe my informal conversation is maybe 90%+ accurate.

      Re: Autobiography Again. Your "truth" may be totally different than another character's "truth." That's why eyewitness reports are so unreliable. Okay, it's a holiday and I'll get off my autobiography soapbox before this escalates into a full blown rant.

      Re: Perceived Threat? Yeah, I've seen some of the "no eye contact for fear of getting coronavirus through my eyes, covered by sunglasses, that are 10+ feet away" behavior. Luckily, not much though. And those younger walkers? Blame it on their age. We live near a high school and that behavior is a daily thing, regardless of the coronavirus threat. It's not cool and/or they're so self conscious.

      Did I cover it all? Anyway, hope you've had a great holiday weekend and have a wonderful week ahead!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, Bill. I know there is no way out but practice so I break the habit of writing papers or reports. Manatita, another friend told me the same thing. She told me to stop writing travel articles and move on to something more uplifting. I think I find it difficult to share my inner self. I have only kept my spiritual reflection for myself. A change is definitely in my future.

      The COVID lockdown has certainly affected our behavior. We maintain distance so we tend to avoid people. I find that people tend to walk to the other side of the street when someone is coming. Today, an older couple stayed off the sidewalk until everyone has moved on before going back to it.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      6 weeks ago from San Diego California

      As far as Mike's question on the payment thing, I could be wrong but I think it depends on who is clicking on your hub's ads. If the ads don't appeal to anybody, no amount of traffic will generate payment. This is why the payment seems inconsistent and random, because that's human behavior for you.

      Keep being you on your walks. That's the way they made you, and we can still be polite from a safe social distance.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      6 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, you actually showed up today where you are supposed to be. Will wonders never cease?

      I like Ann's question and also your answer. Some people just aren't storytellers. I find a lot of those in the Kindle Lending Library. So many, in fact, that I've stopped checking out books from there.

      Still pondering yours and Eric's conversation about HP not allowing just dialog. HP is so contradictory anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. They've snipped several videos from my articles. Now I wouldn't worry about that, but it irks me so to have waste spend time hunting videos. One was snipped without a reason, but another said it wasn't relevant to the article. Most of my articles don't have relevant videos, and its a real coccydynia to have to find something to put in to meet that requirement. I guess it would be better to just leave them out. What do you think? Personally, I rarely ever view videos in an article unless it's a how-to and I need more understanding.

      In the 60s, huh. It's in the 80s here now and the hubby has started his complaining. I tell him to wait until it hits the mid-90s to gripe, but he just won't listen. You reminded me, I've got to go back and read your last walk with Maggie article. Have a good week, my friend.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      When writing an autobiography and living during these times, I would think it hard to leave out such an event as COVID-19 since it is impacting not only everyone's personal life, but it will change the entire world and how we interact going forward. I think you are correct in that there will be many television shows, movies, and undoubtedly books in the future with that topic. And politics, let's just say it will have a huge impact there as well.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      6 weeks ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, Monday is not my favorite day of the week, but with your always interesting mailbag conversations I am starting to like it better, thanks for re-programing me. Have a great week Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting, Eric, that HP wouldn't allow just dialogue. I didn't know that. Sheez, that seems like a silly restriction on their part.

      Oh well, HP doesn't much care what I think. Their loss, me thinks. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Pamela! Thanks for your thoughts. I don't write HP friendly articles, so it's no surprise my earnings are down, but I know some who have done well here who now say their earnings are down drastically. I hope HP can find a way to turn it all around soon.

      Have a wonderful holiday, Pamela!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Greg! Thanks for your thoughts on all matters mentioned here. You are becoming an active, valued member of our little HP circle, and I love to see that. It's always good to add to my friend list.

      Have a great Memorial Day, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Ann! Memorial Day here, a time of remembrance for the fallen soldiers, so a three-day weekend for those who still have jobs to go to. A much-more subdued three-day weekend than in years passed, that's for sure.

      For this introvert, though, it's just one more Monday at the computer, keeping customers happy and keeping my bank account solvent. :)

      Happy Monday my friend, and thank you!

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Shannon! I was raised to open doors and greet people. It just seems like the minimum anyone can do for others, doesn't it? I wonder when that fell from favor with so many people? It just seems like a shame to me, this guarded approach to our fellow human beings.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Just one nasty day this week, Linda, so enjoy today. After that 70's and glorious sunshine, and I have endless outdoor chores waiting for me.

      Have a great week, and if you figure out that HP payout system, please clue me in. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Chitrangada Sharan! I share your hope that this all ends sooner rather than later.

      Blessings to you always!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, I think there is a whole lot of paranoia already in the States. Sad to watch, but true. As for the soaps, I think we are going to see a deluge of virus-related shows in the fall/winter.

      Stay safe and thank you always!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for being here, Rosina! It's always a pleasure having you visit.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool question from John. I tried really hard with "The Boy Teacher" and our editors just refused it until I wrote some paragraphs out of the dialogue. 85 featured to date and it works.

      I like the term embellish some and forget some.

      Thanks master for spreading more love of writing.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      6 weeks ago from london

      Quality comes from the Heart and blesses the mind with its fragrance, so I will say we use the Heart first. Someone was just asking Joe Biden to be himself, an approach to assist him in his relationship with black people. Being our selves in writing is crucial!

      In reference to your intro, can I share? A Disciple of Sri Chinmoy, a doctor in ITU, was re-counting stories with us. Things got so bad that he needed time out to pray. So he told his colleagues he would be gone from 12midnight for 15 mins.

      At 2350 another wave of patients came and so he got caught up in it. He said that the more he worked, the more peaceful he felt. Much later, he realised that he didn't even have time to use the mind. It was all Heart.

      So his message was to stay in the Heart, always. So you see, Bro. The problem is that the modern mind is too active ... much to noisy!

      Mary, in view of your strong spiritual background and based on your comments, you may benefit from writing Christian stories to inspire. Do light ones like charming versions of parables and a few like MS Dora. Still, it is ultimately the soul that decides. Listen to the voice of the soul. Peace.

      P.S. Mary Norton, I presume.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      First, I don't see why you would be seens as a threat, Bill. I have been out so little lately that I guess I wold not have noticed a change in the way people act but I would still say Hi I think in most cases.

      Your mail bag was interesting. Writing a story with only dialogue would be an interesting challenge for you. I would like to read a story you write that way. As far as Hubpages payments, they seem much lower to me than they were several years ago. I don't even think about it much as the money is so low now and maybe I don't write as often as I once did.

      Finally, I don't understand the behavior of dogs or people, so I am no help there. :) Have a great week, Bill.

    • boxelderred profile image

      greg cain 

      6 weeks ago from Moscow, Idaho, USA

      Hi Bill - great edition, as usual. If you find someone that understands dogs, I'd appreciate hearing about that. I need to figure out how to stop my dog from digging up my four o'clocks every year.

      I've not experienced a viral moment, but found that discussion intriguing. Also never heard of Maven until I read the Mailbag today. I am newly departed from the workforce, so my online savvy is not at the highest level.

      Finally, I also think the ongoing autobiography discussion is interesting. I have read and tried to practice some creative non-fiction, and will continue to do more of that over time. I don't mind being brutally honest about myself (self-deprecation is very good for the soul and keeps the ego in check), but I have held back (for now) from writing about some things I've experienced because I know if the person(s) involved were to read those thoughts...well, let's just say that some folks (and this is probably what actually makes one want to write about them) are so explosive and unpredictable, one just doesn't know what might come from all that. At the end of the day, I do believe it comes down to the objective of the writing: if you are writing to inform and entertain, and don't intend to offend, real names and places and events might need to be tempered. If you have other objectives and motives, well...I don't know how to advise beyond that.

      Thanks again for helping all of us spread wings and fly, Bill.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 weeks ago from SW England

      That's interesting about the perceived threat thing. I hadn't registered it, maybe because it's quiet round here and people have been more apt to smile and say hello (at a distance!) than usual. But I suppose we do see others as a possible threat, to be safe. Conundrum!

      Thanks for answering my question, and it's a great answer. A natural storyteller is a must, so why didn't I think of that? I'm currently reading 'His Dark Materials'; I'd only read the first of the trilogy, but have now just finished the second and am about to start the third. Now there's a great storyteller! Pullman is a natural par excellence, in my view.

      It's bank holiday Monday here but hard to notice the difference!

      Have a marvellous, madcap, but mellow Monday, bill!

      Ann

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      6 weeks ago from Texas

      Hi Bill,

      Good questions this week.

      John's question is intriguing. I've read stories that are told entirely through text messages, which is essentially the same thing as using only dialogue. The catch is that these stories are only short stories, and even so, when I was given a writing prompt to write one like that I had to decline. But my unsolicited two cents on the matter is that it only works with suspenseful stories if you want to keep reader interest.

      On the perceived threat thing....in some ways, I've observed the same thing while in public. Although, it seems to be mostly in the "crowds" of stores, at least around here. However, there have always been some people who are just shy, always have been and always will be. I also forget sometimes that I've been in TX too long, where people naturally tend to hold doors open for others and wave or say hello to strangers. That norm hasn't changed too drastically yet even with social distancing.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I'm glad you don't take M. and T. out at the same time. Kids are always competing with each other, and you get two walks, so everyone wins.

      I simply cannot do a day without writing--I'm always working on something and my family has learned to adjust.

      On dialogue, I don't know how one could sustain a story with only talking. At some point people have got to shut up and do something, right?

      HP payouts and views have me totally baffled. Good luck figuring it out.

      An abridged version of the truth; hmmm, seems to me that someone in D.C. one made reference to "alternative facts." (Smile).

      It will be cold and wet for a few days this week. Good news--that means we have an excuse to stay indoors and write more. Have a great week my friend and if I come up with a question I'll email it to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi Bill! Happy Monday.

      I liked your views on the actual threat vs perceived threat. It's so sad, people avoiding each other. I just hope this situation is over, and life is pleasing again, for everyone.

      As usual , useful and informative question-answer session.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 weeks ago from UK

      Thanks for the COVID-19 answer. I've heard that at least one of the major soaps on UK tv is going to write it in to future episodes.

      I agree that the ability to tell a good story is of great importance for a writer.

      Surely a dialogue only narrative would be more like a stage play. Even then there are directions.

      Payment on HP is a complete mystery to me.

      I'm intrigued about very informal narrative.

      There must be a fine line between tweaking biographical details and out and out fiction.

      I guess we are all possible threats to each other, as no one knows who has or doesn't have COVID-19. We could be turning into a paranoid grouo of people.

      Enjoy your dog walks and keep well.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      6 weeks ago

      Today's mailbag was packed with information. I especially find it odd for young people not to make eye contacts with you during your walk considering you a threat first. But you do the right thing: say hello to them anyway. LOL. Thanks for sharing.

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