- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Twenty-Three
The Seasons Change but Good Writing Never Does
How’s that for profound?
How’s that for true?
If you are here then we can assume you are interested in writing as a craft, so spend a couple seconds contemplating that statement: good writing never changes!
Fads come and fads go. The hot topic hits the scene, burns up the internet for two days, and is replaced by the latest greatest.
But good writing never changes! “To Kill A Mockingbird,” or “Of Mice and Men” are as relevant and brilliant today as they were fifty years ago, and someone will be saying the same thing fifty years from now.
The year is 2016, and any Tom, Dick, or Harry can write a novel and self-publish it. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can start a blog and declare themselves experts on a particular topic.
But good writing never changes!
Shall we begin?
From Ann: “Question: Do any of your family ask for advice from you about writing? You are such a good mentor here that I wondered if you were ever required to do the same for your own. My daughter, who writes just as well as I do if not better, seems to feel she has to check her pieces with me as she lacks confidence. Does that happen to you?”
Rarely, Ann! Rarely!
My step-daughter asks me to write important letters for her. That’s the extent of that. LOL About the only member of my immediate family who has spent any noticeable time writing is Bev, and she will definitely ask my advice from time to time, but between Bev and I, we have five kids, and not one of them has asked for any mentoring. I’m not convinced they even care that I write….okay, maybe they care, but they care in a very quiet way.
On the other hand, I’ve had numerous online friends ask for mentoring, and I have several customers who are paying me as we speak for my mentoring, but family…..NO!
From Rodric: “My question is, I know I have good stories in my head, but how do I know I am a good writer?
“I have published, self-published three books. I have not done well on any of them. I wonder if that is because my books suck, my writing sucks, or I should be writing histories and reference books.”
Rodric, you just hit the nail on the head for most writers and believe me, many times I’ve asked myself the same question.
I’ll comment on your last question first: you should be writing what you feel passion for, whether it be histories or reference books or novels. What really revs your engine? Answer that and then follow that path.
Are you any good? You might have to pay a neutral observer to answer that question. It’s real hard to get an objective opinion on HubPages, or from family and friends. Paying a professional to give an opinion is your best bet. Or join a writers’ onine chat group. I promise you’ll get some very honest opinions on such a site.
And lastly, the fact that you have not done well with your self-published books has nothing to do with whether you are a good writer or not. There are a lot of great indie writers who will never see fame and fortune. They are still, and always will be, good writers.
Don’t give up! Find out what you have to do to improve and then get busy!
From Marcy: “What’s the best way to go about getting a syndicated column in a newspaper?”
We’ve had this question before, but I don’t mind at all answering it again.
The first two things you do, and continue to do, is work your craft and build your platform. On more than one occasion I’ve had this question asked by someone who doesn’t even have a blog, website, or backlog of articles to their credit. In other words, in the literary world, they were a nobody! They were living in some LaLa Land I’m not aware of, thinking they could just take an idea cold, approach a newspaper editor with it, and presto change, get a syndication contract.
Life doesn’t work that way.
Do you want a syndicated column? Then start writing! Find your niche and start practicing your craft. Learn as much as possible about your niche. Write articles and get them published. Build a blog/website following. Do the social media thing and build a following. Then, after about a year or two of all that, you just might be ready to approach a newspaper editor without the worry of embarrassing yourself.
Was that too harsh?
Learn your craft and then we’ll talk again.
ADVICE FOR MY DAUGHTER
From Samuel: “My daughter has expressed an interest in being a writer. She writes short stories all the time, loves to write, and her mother and I want to encourage her as much as possible. What can we do to encourage her and give her the best chance of succeeding?”
Samuel, the world needs fewer lawyers and a hell of a lot more writers, so don’t blow this! LOL
Most major cities have writing clubs, and creative writing classes. Ask your daughter if she’d be interested in attending such a class, but don’t force her to do it. Writing should come from a love of the craft, and it has to come in its own time. Never force your daughter into writing. Instead, give her opportunities she can choose from when she wants to choose from them. This is her passion, not yours, and she needs to go at it in her way and in her time.
You could find her a writing tutor, but do your homework and find her a reputable one. You could have her work with someone online…like me….but again, make sure you’re hiring someone who actually has skills. There are too many charlatans out there willing to take your money, so be careful.
Encourage her to read. Don’t force her. I truly believe great writers are great readers, so any reading she can do will help her eventually.
And finally, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this….love her!
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- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
A Short One Today, so We’ll See You Next Week
Hey, it’s not my fault. I can only answer what I can answer, so this Mailbag will be what it is, and that’s short today. You can all go do something else now because we are done.
One more thing to think about: Christmas is coming, and if you are thinking of buying a book for someone as a present, how about buying a book from an indie author. There are a number of good books from good writers I can suggest for you. I don’t really think James Patterson needs more sales, so let’s help out the little guy this Christmas season!
Until next week, thank you! If you have questions, include them in the comment section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you need an editor or tutor, I’m always available . . . for a price! The friendship is free!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”