The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Fifty-Eight
And Here We Go Again
The Mailbag is back and the questions are better than ever. I am convinced I have the smartest followers at HubPages, so a round of applause to all of you who keep me on my toes and make me plumb the depths of my experience.
Let’s get started with a question from Suraj.
From Suraj: “Which brings me to my question: How long did it take you to be this successful as a hubber, and earn a decent income from it?”
Thank you very much, Suraj! That’s two questions and they are both very nebulous. Let me explain.
The first asks how long it took me to be successful at HP. What do you mean by successful? I’m fairly well-known, and that took me about six months of constantly reading and commenting and posting. For me, though, success came after I posted my first hub. That was a huge step for me. I had no confidence in myself as a writer, so taking that first step was a very successful event.
Then you asked me about a decent income and three and a half years after the fact, I can honestly say I still haven’t done that. I earned my first payout in two months if I remember correctly. I had payouts every month after that for almost three years and then Google pulled the rug out from under me. Now my earnings don’t make a payout each month….it takes two months for me to earn over fifty dollars. I didn’t do anything differently. The only things that changed were Google and HP. I’ve written over 1,000 hubs….maybe we should go back to the successful question. LOL
From Ann: “A question for you: Do you think that writing a series becomes tedious after a while (talking about mine, not yours!); tedious to write as well as tedious to read? If we vary it enough, finish it when we run out of content or interest, is that acceptable? How can you tell when others have had enough (people are kind here, they tell you nice things whatever)?
I seem to have asked more than one question there, sorry. I'll leave it to you to sort it out, I'm nice like that!”
Ann, consider it sorted out.
I don’t know that I can answer this question for anyone but me. I love the characters I currently have in my “Shadows” thriller series. I think if the day comes when those characters are tedious I’ll pull the plug on it. I write because I enjoy writing. If my writing detracts from that enjoyment, I better change or quit writing.
I’ve seen this happen to other famous writers. James Lee Burke is still going strong with his Dave Robicheax novels and they still seem fresh and engaging after over twenty novels. I think his enjoyment of that series shows in his writing. On the other hand, the guy who wrote the Spenser novels (what was his name? Robert Parker), I think his books became stale after a decade or so. It seemed to me that he was just going through the motions to make more money. Now that may not be fair but it’s what I felt when reading him. I think he should have stopped after the first twenty. J
I think you are the author. It is acceptable to end your series when you feel it should end. Yes people are nice here at HP. I love their encouragement and kind words, but the final decision will always rest on my shoulders.
Again from Ann: “I have another question regarding Google. I had an email from them regarding EU rules for end-users' rights and cookies. Do you know anything about that? I didn't understand a word of it and now I'm worried I'm not doing things correctly. It makes me wary of publishing anything anymore!”
I had to do some research on this one, Ann, and since I don’t talk computer geek stuff, it was not easy. There have been several rulings of late by the EU in an attempt to protect the privacy of internet users (end users). Since Google is like the internet god of gods, the EU went after them first. Bottom line: there are links and cookies that contain your personal information which you can request be removed to protect your privacy.
From Paula: “My main "issue" currently is that as much as I want to jump feet first into writing a few new hubs, I have to be rigid with my time. Until I complete a home project or 2 that NEED to be done....I can't justify sitting at the keyboard.
There ya go.....is this a dilemma or what? Work on my project while begrudging I have no time to write.....OR......Try to write while the project is gnawing at the back of my mind??? What do you do in this case Oh Teacher-teacher?”
Sis, I already answered this on the Hub, but for the sake of others I’ll repeat it. In the question you said home projects that NEED to be done. There’s your answer. The writing will be waiting for you when the projects are done and the summer turns to fall and the darkness comes sooner. To borrow from Nike, just do it!
From Dora: “What if midway through the storybook plot, another character besides the original protagonist emerges into the feature role? Is there a law against that? I've seen it in sitcoms, but is it allowed in literary fiction (or non-fiction for that matter)?”
Dora, thanks for an interesting question. The answer I’m going to give you is simply my opinion. You asked if it was allowed in literary fiction. If I’ve learned one thing about fiction it’s that everything is “allowed.” The writing gods smile on creativity and frown on rules.
The second part of my answer is this: I believe in allowing the characters to tell the story. If you have a new protagonist who is asserting his/her will on the story, then allow them to do that. It’s obviously what your muse wants, and I try to never argue with my muse.
From Eric: “Bill how do you keep from falling into that mindset where you become a bit obsessed and always are thinking about how you could write something about something? It seems like it might prevent one from staying in the here and now.”
Eric, I’ve been there, done that and I ain’t returning. J Seriously, I have known writers like that. I might have been one at one time. How does one keep from falling into that mindset? I obviously have no idea since I lost perspective at one time. Luckily I have some friends and loved ones who pointed it out…so perhaps that’s the answer. Surround yourself with people you trust, people you listen to, and people you value.
Active and Passive Voices
From Faith: “Thank you for sharing your insight here as always. Oh, here's a whacky question for you ...I have been reading about writing in the active and passive voice. From what I have read it is best to write in the active voice so that readers feel more a part of the story. Is it possible to write in the active voice when referring to the past LOL? If that question doesn't fly, how about sharing your thoughts on writing in the active and passive voice. Or a big flat-out NO will do.”
Faith, I would never say no to you.
Writing in the passive voice is one of my biggest problems as a writer. For whatever reason, I slip into passive voice without even thinking about it and then don’t even notice that I’ve done it.
Is it possible to write in active voice when referring to the past? Most definitely. Active voice means that in a sentence, the subject is doing the action. In the sentence “The dog bit the man,” the subject is the dog and he is doing the biting. If I switched that to passive it would read “The man was bitten by the dog.”
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with passive voice. It’s simply not as concise as active voice.
More Next Week
This Mailbag is overflowing so let’s deliver it. The other questions I have will have to wait until next week. Thank you to all who asked. If I didn’t get to your question rest assured I will next Monday.
Have a great week!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”