The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Ninety-Two
And Away We Go!!!!!
Am I the only one who is old enough to remember Jackie Gleason? I don’t know why that phrase popped in my mind, but now I’ll hear his voice saying those four words all day long. Sigh!
So let’s get going! I’ve got a mini-farm that needs tending, so no more delay. There are questions that need answering and chickens that need feeding
And away we go!!!!!
More from Mary
Two More Questions from Mary: “Do you think that technology has made the role easier for a writer, or are we deluding ourselves? Of course it is easier to research and get a book published now but haven't we also flooded the market and created stress for ourselves with too many technological distractions.”
This, Mary, is a fascinating question, and no matter how I answer it, there are going to be other writers who disagree with me…and that’s fine.
I’ve actually thought about this very question from time to time. I’ll just give you my thoughts, knowing all along that I am as correct, or wrong, as anyone else who answers it.
I think all the technological choices we have do provide a distraction, at times, from the most important thing about writing, namely the writing itself. I’ve seen it happen over and over again with fellow writers. They are so busy with social media and trying various technological tools, and they forget to work on their craft. Mediocre is mediocre is mediocre, no matter how many technological tools you use. Our number one priority, as writers, should be to become better writers.
Of course technology has made it easier to do research, and it has also opened up markets we could only dream about twenty years ago. For those marketing specialists among us, technology has created so many avenues for us to follow, and that is all well and good….but….
If we are producing swill then technology can’t help us at all.
Bottom line: work on your craft first and quit putting the cart before the horse.
Also from Mary:
“Do you think a writer should lock themselves in a room with a pad of paper and a pencil to create anything of worth? Isn't burnout as a writer an increasing problem?”
Despite how old I am, I never knew Hemingway, nor did I know Steinbeck. I look at the volume of work they produced and it is obvious they worked long, hard days and nights producing their masterpieces of American literature…but…they also had incredibly interesting lives. Read their biographies and it becomes obvious very quickly that they believed in experiencing life as well as writing. In fact, either consciously or subconsciously, they believed that living a full life made them better writers.
I believe that as well. Living in a writing studio, hour after hour, day after day, makes this writer a very dull boy. I believe that my rich and full life has made me a richer and fuller writer. My suggestion to anyone considering becoming a writer is to get out and experience life to the fullest. Then you will have a treasure chest to draw from when you sit down and begin writing.
Again, just my opinion. No, not everyone can go to the Keys or Cuba and experience those cultures. Not everyone can live on Cannery Row and experience that way of life…..but we all can get out and experience our own unique story of life, and I think it’s crucial that we do.
My non-fiction book about writing
From Eric: “Hooray for another installment. What a joy these mailbags are. Just a personal question. Are you a writerholic? What I mean is do you find yourself always looking for that next writer fix? Sometimes I find myself being "not in the moment" because my mind is drifting off into something about writing something. I reckon that for me it is a bit of an escape. What say you?”
Another fascinating question. To a certain degree, I guess my answer is yes, I am a writerholic. My mind is always in writing mode, at least subconsciously. I will be enjoying a moment, like a walk in the park, and I’ll see a young mother playing with her toddler, and I’ll write a line in my head about that particular scene, or I’ll lock it in my mental vault and it will reappear in a story six months later. I do that all the time.
In fact, my wife recognizes those moments when they happen. She’ll look at me and say, “you’re writing a scene, aren’t you?” and she’ll be correct.
Quite often, too, I’ll have a notebook and pen with me, and I’ll just go out and jot down ideas, impressions, whatever…..all aimed at future stories.
That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy life or that my muse is constantly distracting me from doing other things. I enjoy the heck out of life, but I always know my muse is nearby and I’m feeding her with observations and impressions on a constant basis. Otherwise she can turn into a real nag.
Yep, I guess I am a writerholic!
From MizB: “…..but would you or one of your readers please tell me how to color my text? I see text in red, green or blue (not linked) other colors, and I don't know how.”
Miz B, a word to the wise: never ask this writer a technological question. I’m the last person you should ask about Microsoft Word….so let me go do some research and then I’ll answer.
Okay, I’m back.
I only know how to do this with a document on Microsoft Word, so if you’re not using that then you need to wait until one of my readers tells you another system.
On Microsoft Word, highlight the section you want for a different color. Then go up to the tool bar above and you’ll find the symbol for “font color”…..a capital A on the tool bar….click on the small downwards arrow next to that A and the color palette will drop down…select the color you want for that section of your document and then click “save.”
And that’s all there is to it!
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That’s all there is today, friends, so there you go.
Let me combine one of Mary’s questions with MizB’s question and share a personal experience with you.
I’m in the process of learning how to create a podcast. Now for those of you who are young, and maybe some who are near my age, this may not seem like a big deal, but to this old fart it is a huge deal. That type of technology just confuses the hell out of me, so it takes me a very long time to learn how to do it.
It’s technology, and I see the value of it as a marketing tool for my writing career, but learning how to use it is painful for me….and probably takes me ten times longer than it would for someone who has little trouble understanding tech instructions.
So I’m going to keep trudging forward because, well, that’s what I do. I’m too stubborn to give up and I really want podcasts to be a part of my marketing plan, but I’m also going to be cussing a lot while I learn.
Have a great week of writing and living.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”