The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Six
And After a Short Break
Here we are again! Ta-Da!
No questions, no Mailbag…that’s how it works, and last week was an example. This week we barely have any questions….I’m beginning to see a trend here. My thanks to Mary for opening up a forum on HP, asking writers to contribute questions to the Mailbag; as of this writing, nobody responded with a question. Again, I’m beginning to see a trend here.
Maybe the Mailbag will cease to be a weekly event. Maybe monthly? Maybe it will go to that big scrap heap in the sky?
I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, my thanks to those of you who did ask questions this week. Let’s get started!
Need Help With Your Writing?
Not so Fresh Idea
From Ann: “I've got a question now though: What happens if you come up with an idea and a story and then find someone else has done almost the same already? Do you change the slant of yours or do you start totally afresh?”
I guess that’s possible, right? I mean, there are millions of writers out there, so coming up with the same basic storyline is certainly possible, although, to my knowledge, it’s never happened to me. That would be weird, right? I’m thinking out loud now, can you tell? LOL
I should have contacted Ann for clarification. Are you asking about the legal ramifications if this happened? Could someone sue you for plagiarism and so should you change your story? Or is this simply from a creative standpoint, because if it’s from a creative standpoint I say go for it regardless…..individual writers, even if they are writing about the same thing, will write in different styles with different rhythms and different voices….so I say GO FOR IT and let the chips fall where they will. I’m willing to bet I could do an experiment on HP and ask writers to write a story following exactly a storyline I give them, and I’d have ten completely different stories submitted.
The more I think about it, the more my answer is GO FOR IT!
Non-fiction in My Future?
From Mary: “Question: Do you have another non-fiction book in the pipeline? Perhaps, raising quail or a cookbook with quail recipes (eggs and or meat).”
Mary, thank you! You are so good about asking questions, and supporting the Mailbag.
I’m laughing about this question. In the pipeline? That pipeline is so long, composed of novels I want to write, that I can’t imagine a non-fiction book shouldering its way into the pipeline.
Truth? I really don’t enjoy writing non-fiction. I wrote that one book on writing tips and got no thrill at all from writing it….certainly not like I feel when I write a novel and I’m really getting into that process.
Having said that, considering the horrible quality of “how to” books I’ve seen on Amazon, I almost feel compelled to write a quail book or an urban farming book, just to raise the standard a bit. I don’t say that with great ego. I say it because it’s true. There is a bunch of junk on Amazon now that every Tom, Dick and Harriet can self-publish. It’s almost an insult to the writing profession, and if that annoys some out there, too bad. I bought a book about raising bees on ebay, and it ended up being a self-published piece of junk, so excuse me for being a bit snippy regarding this topic.
But, the quick answer to your question….no, I really don’t see myself doing it…..but you should, about raising fish!
What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
From Eric: “Does the writing come from a certain stability in your life or does the writing give you a certain stability in life?”
What a fascinating question, Eric! I’ve thought about this question for two days now, and I’m still not sure about the answer.
I think it’s a combination of several factors for me. When I began seven years ago, it was just the right time and right place in my life. At that time I finally had three years of sobriety, so I was finally working with a clear mind. That seemed to unlock the creativity and allow it to flow freely.
At the same time I was financially free and able to quit working full-time, so that gave me the time I needed to just devote myself to writing. Also about that time I met Bev and discovered what real love is all about, so I had that stability going for me as well.
On the other hand, it really feels like writing is what I was meant to do, so writing gives me an anchor and purpose and thus, provides stability for me. I am an obsessive-compulsive person, and if I’m not drinking then I better be doing something constructive with my time, and writing is that something. I attack writing just like I once attacked drinking. I’m an all or nothing sort of guy….so writing definitely has provided stability for me….and it’s a lot better for my health.
So, the answer….a little of both, my friend.
From Susan: “I went to a book reading by a local author in Pittsburg the other day, and I left after about fifteen minutes. The guy was boorish at best, trying to dazzle us with his huge vocabulary and just, in general, acting rather snooty. Have you found writers to be that way? It seems to me that more and more writers, especially the ones who have experienced some fame, act like they are a bit superior.”
Well, Susan, I have seen what you are talking about, but I wouldn’t say it’s the norm. Every once in awhile I’ll come across some author on PBS, or listen to one on NPR, and they will be like you described, using ten-dollar words when fifty-cent words would suffice, and acting all Elizabethan in their comments…..pretentious snobs, in other words….but….
Most writers I talk to, listen to or see are pretty ordinary in their public appearances. Quite a few of my favorite authors are “salt-of-the-earth” people, people I would totally enjoy having as next-door neighbors. So yes, I have seen it but no, I don’t think it is that common.
And I promise, if you meet me, it won’t be the norm for me…..of course, I’m not famous, either, so all bets are off if I win the Pulitzer for fiction. LOL
Join me on my writing blog/website
- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Maybe Next Week?
We’ll just have to see. Maybe you’ll see the Mailbag next week; maybe in two weeks; maybe in a month. It’s all up to the masses out there. As we used to say as kids, nobody knows what the Nose knows, so speak, Beak!
One note: I’m going to be recording my first podcast in a week or two….I was going to title it “The Writer’s Mailbag” but decided that was too confining, so it will most likely be named after my blog, “Artistry With Words.” Stay tuned!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”