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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Seventy-Six

Updated on December 07, 2015

It’s Monday and That Means……

It means, of course, that the Mailbag has arrived.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without the Mailbag. It has become second-nature for me to answer questions over the weekend and send out the Mailbag on Mondays. If I didn’t have the Mailbag I’d have to come up with a new idea for an article each week and that just might overload my pea-brain.

So thank the gods for the Mailbag. Let’s get started with a question from South America about setting priorities.

Welcome to the Mailbag
Welcome to the Mailbag | Source

PRIORITIES

From Blond: “This morning I was thinking about priorities. Which writing tasks should be done first? I wonder if you have a set routine.

For me, I tend to do any writing jobs where the money is on the table. Yes I am referring to content mills (I know you hate them).

Then own websites/blogs, and lastly the two half finished books which have a thick coating of virtual dust gathering on them.

Somewhere in the grey matter are hubs waiting to be written as well.

So what is your secret? Just backside on chair?”

Blond, this is a question I’ve been asked before. Evidently some people seem to think I have more hours in a day, or more days in a week, but the truth is I’m just an ultra-organized human being. Some people would call me anal and that might also be the truth.

I designate each day of the week for certain writing chores and projects. Mondays are only for new articles and Hubs. Tuesdays are only for customers and paying gigs. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for my novels and Fridays are for odds and ends I didn’t get to during the week. Now, as many of you know, I just returned to the workplace and I’m working about 4-6 hours three days a week, so I’m forced to condense my writing week. I still do only articles on Mondays but I don’t do as many as I once did. Tuesdays and customer gigs are non-negotiable and I don’t work my part-time job that day. As for my novels, I work on them in the hours I have remaining after the part-time jobs.

So I still follow basically the same writing schedule; I just don’t get as much done as I once did before the outside part-time work.

I hope that helps.

Finishing a novel carries, with it, regret for me
Finishing a novel carries, with it, regret for me | Source

REGRETS

From Eric: “Hey now after you finish and publish an article do you feel really high and then low because you miss writing it? If you have this happen maybe I am not off the deep end - emotionally speaking, at least partially.”

What an interesting question, Eric. Honestly no, not on articles, but I do feel those emotions after finishing a novel. With a novel, I’ve invested about six months of my life, so there is naturally some emotional fallout after finishing one…so I do understand what you are talking about.

As for articles, the emotions I most often feel with them are pride when I’ve really written a dynamite article, or I’ve had a few sentences in an article that I consider outstanding….or I’ve written about a topic that I feel very strongly about and I’ve left my heart out there to be stomped on. A couple years ago I wrote an article about child abuse on a reservation in North Dakota. It was hard-hitting and emotionally exhausting and believe me, I had a lot of emotions after finishing that one.

What I will say without hesitation is writers should sure as hell feel something when they write. If they don’t then what’s the point in writing?

STRATEGIES

From Brian: “What are your strategies for getting writing done in between working a day job and running an urban farm? (Ok to wait to answer till you've had some on the job experience.)”

Actually, Brian, I’ve been working this part-time job for a few weeks now, so I can answer this now.

I admit, taking on a part-time job really threw me for a loop for about a week. I had no idea how I was going to get everything done. I envisioned my novels dying a slow death and my articles suffering as well. What I found out is I have another gear. Evidently I’ve been coasting along in fourth gear and come to find out I have a fifth.

I’m making light of it but that’s actually what happened. I just kicked it up a notch and I’ve managed to fall into a nice routine and I’m getting things done. What has suffered just a bit is my commenting on the articles of others. The past two weekends it has been practically impossible to comment on those articles, so if you post an article on Saturday or Sunday, I apologize in advance because I probably won’t get to it.

Writing allows me to bridge the gap and communicate/connect with people
Writing allows me to bridge the gap and communicate/connect with people | Source

Why Writing Is Important

From Ann: “Question: How would you explain to someone who doesn't understand exactly what it is to be a writer and why it's important? I find people just change the subject or gloss over it quickly!”

And now, Ann, we get down to the nitty gritty, don’t we?

I’ve pondered this question many times. I’ve had discussions with Bev and with my stepsons, who are both musicians, about this topic. I’m not sure it can be answered with one or two stock sentences, and I think it is just subjective enough to be different for many people.

For me…and this is just for me and no one else….since I was a little kid I have wanted to make a difference. I didn’t want to be famous but I did want to pass through this life having counted for something. Writing allows me to do that. I can touch the lives of people through my words. I can communicate with thousands of people around the world. I can establish a connection with complete strangers and I can help them to smile and laugh, and I can show empathy when they are crying. This is important to me. Whatever gift I’ve been given as a writer allows me to, in a small way, shrink this world and make it less scary.

That’s my first answer. What is it to be a writer? Again, this is just me answering. Being a writer is frustrating….it is, at times lonely….it is emotionally exhausting….and it is the greatest high I’ve ever experienced. When I find the perfect combination of verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives, and that combination tells a beautiful, meaningful story or moves a reader emotionally, it is…it must be…like taking that first hit of heroin. I am a word junkie and I must satisfy my hunger.

Why is it important? Have you noticed that society has become more isolated on an individual level? Yes we have social media, but in a way, that’s an isolationist’s dream come true. One can stay in contact without actually “contacting” anyone. People text constantly but rarely actually talk to anyone. People lock themselves in their homes afraid of what’s outside, and live in their gated communities.

Writers combat that isolationism. We bring the world closer. We reach out to those who need us and we make human connections. We tell people they are not alone. We tell people that what they are feeling we are feeling. We entertain with our stories and share compassion and comfort.

The only question I have to your question, Ann, is why wouldn’t we be writers?

This Writer’s Final Thoughts

My wife and I are hurting financially right now….it’s temporary but it is real as the holidays approach. I saw on the news last week that the school districts are desperate for substitute teachers and, well, I could be in a classroom one day after making a phone call, and I could make $140 per day doing that. Problem solved for us financially, right?

But I’m already working another part-time job, and if I took on substitute teaching I would literally have to stop writing.

And I won’t do that. And my wife won’t let me do that.

Writing is too important to give up even for a couple months.

Ann, that’s the best answer I can give to your question.

Writing is too important to give up.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 15 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, Bill I read your last paragraph and completely get it, as I too could substitute teach with having my teaching license still, but like you I don't want to give up on my writing one bit either and thankfully my husband is similar to your wife on this. So, I think we are very lucky and blessed more than we could ever know or imagine. Thanks always and saying extra prayers for you and sending so much love/good thoughts your way. Happy Monday and here is to a wonderful week ahead, as always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine and I hope your week is spectacular. I appreciate your kind words. All will be well, my friend, in time.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 15 months ago from Cooley, Texas

      Great mailbag this week Bill! Piercing questions on 'the craft'. I think your answer to Ann was bullseye. A writer must make an intimate moment with her or his reader. Otherwise, what is the point? Even in academia there is a new shift to engage emotion on an issue, instead of merely trying to be autonomous, or esoteric. Thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien here.

      Hope all is well in your mind of the world and I look forward to next week's installment. From one who wonders about the scope of his sentences and reduction of his rhetoric,

      -E.G.A.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eldon, thanks for joining me this Monday morning. Interesting shift in academia that you mentioned. I think that is "spot on" as the British are fond of saying.

      Have a terrific week in Cooley!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 15 months ago

      I feel the same way. Writing is too important to give up. I do have to admit that very few people understand that.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 15 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for answering my question, I see a system is the only way forward.

      Today's mailbag is very moving. I know you have your accolades for being supportive and popular and they are richly deserved. You have touched so many people's lives in ways you may not know. Your encouragement has kept people, like myself, writing when others have laughed at the idea. You are a treasure. Have a great week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, it's been my experience that non-writers don't get it at all...except for my wife. :) Happy Monday to you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Blond, I now have tears in my eyes. I hope you're happy with yourself. :) Thank you my friend.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 15 months ago from Orange County California

      Bill

      Now, your mailbag has reached the number of Trombones.

      The writer ? on how to respond to those that don't understand it.

      The first thing that comes to mind is what is the general or popular definition of being a writer.

      To describe the vocation, or avocation of being a writer, the people that you are talking to have their own definition of what it is to be a writer.

      So, I guess that the writer has to give them the definition of writer, and then go on to describe their writing. There are so many common words that everyone thinks that other people have the same definition or understanding of what they mean, but in reality they are not objective, they are most always subjective. This is because of their life experience, and maybe their schooling or work.

      I think of myself as a commentator, as opposed to a writer. In doing so, I can and do break many of the writing rules that I have been taught in schools all the way through college. Because I know many of the rules, doesn't mean that I stick to them like the lanes on a highway.

      Occasionally, the word police pull me over and cite me for breaking the rules of the weave.

      If I were writing a novel, I would go boldly where no writer has dared to go, into the world of Color. I would first replace quotation marks with the words being in a designated color for quotations.

      TV went from Black and White to brilliant and vivid color, so why shouldn't novels make the same transition.

      Happy 76th as in Trombones, and 1776.

      :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, following your comment was like mapping the flight of a hummingbird. LOL Color indeed, my friend. Thanks!

      I've had this conversation many times. What is a writer? The definition has changed over the years. Is it a teen writing in a journal? No training but writing in a blog? Is it a newspaper beat writer? A novelist? A freelancer? All of the above? Like you said, it is not that easy to define.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 15 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! You give us procrastinators and slackers a bad name...lol. I am so impressed by your dedication to the craft. I know whatever other work you do outside of writing, you will still find the time to follow your muse.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Melissa, and I'm sorry my Seahawks were horrible guests in Minneapolis yesterday. :) Happy Monday my friend.

    • Duane Townsend profile image

      Duane Townsend 15 months ago from Detroit

      Man! I enjoy reading your Hubs Billy.....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Duane, thank you so much. That means a lot to me.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 15 months ago from Oklahoma

      Keeping one's priorities is hard enough. Add in a 1 year old, and boy howdy:-)

      Another great installment.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill - I appreciate so very much that with all that you have on your plate, you still take the time to teach us each week. What a wonderful gift; please know that this receiver does not take it for granted. I pray that your problems are temporary and that you can soon return to living life to the fullest without this added burden.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 15 months ago from Europe

      Wow, that was an enjoyable mailbag. I like the approach to life and authorship as you said in your closing section. I hope for you and your family all will be fine. :) Have a great day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Been there, Larry, done that and ain't going back again. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Linda! Things will work out in time. We just have to go through some tough times for a few months. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Buiildreps. All will be well. Just a bump in the road we have to tackle for awhile.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 15 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I can't imagine life without writing, and the thrill you get when you've written something others like. Thanks for always being there to help us out. Best wishes..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby! I can't imagine it either. Stay tuned for another Billy the Kid installment on Wednesday.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 15 months ago from SW England

      Thanks so much, bill, for your amazing answer to my question! I'm addicted to words too, I love them and recently have found out about a whole new concept - words connected to landscape connected to people, connected to words...... It's started a whole new dimension for me and for my writing. (The 'Landmarks' book.)

      I like the tack of reaching out into that world of isolation. Words can make a huge difference, can't they? I feel privileged to be able to do that, even in a little way. I can't stop writing either, I wouldn't want to, and, like Eric, I feel a little deflated when I've finished an article I've worked on - elated and deflated at the same time, if that makes sense.

      Now you've given me a new argument I can argue my cause more expansively. Thank you, bill.

      Isn't it funny how you can make more time when you think it's full? The expanding 4th dimension! Kind of gives you a high, doesn't it?

      Have a magnificent Monday and thanks again for indulging my question with such a great answer.

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, a great question deserves a great answer. I'm glad I had one in me. :) You are a writer, a lover of words, and as such you know exactly what I'm talking about. It is a high, a rush, a fix, whatever one wants to call it, and I am so very grateful I have some semblance of ability at doing it....although that last sentence was poorly constructed. LOL

      Happy Monday to you and thank you!

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 15 months ago from Cooley, Texas

      bradmasterOccal:

      Setting quotations to color is a great idea. It would reduce all those pesky punctuation marks. This reminds me of modern editions of the Bible. When Jesus is said to speak, his words are highlighted in red. Many monks in the Middle English period would add colors to their copies, as I'm sure you're aware, usually to the first initial of chapters.

      -E.G.A.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks again Eldon...nice reference to the Bible, something I had forgotten about.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 15 months ago from Hollister, MO

      I enjoy hearing you list how you prioritize your writing time, each time you share. This time, especially meaningful, with the variations you've used with the additional job time. Do what is best for you and your family... we readers will always understand... family needs come first, always! ;-)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 15 months ago from Massachusetts

      Another great mailbag Bill. I particularly like your final paragraph and the fact that you never compromise on your priorities. Ann's question was a great one as was your answer. Have a great week.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

      Some of us want to be writers. You ARE a writer, Bill. Thanks for pulling us along!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Always, Bill. I totally agree with you, my friend. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Bill! We will carry on one way or another. Have a super duper week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, that is such a very sweet thing for you to say. Thank you my friend.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

      These questions and answers really hit the spot this week. I can't choose one over the others and I think they answer the concerns of many writers. I can't think of anything I would prefer to do right now than write. Thanks and hope that rain stops soon.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks John! The questions really were good this week. As for the rain, only ten more days of it. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've shared some interesting information, as always, Bill. I hope you have a good week and find time for your writing.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 15 months ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Love your answer to that last one, Bill - you're so right. But I also think it's true that some folk (non-writers) just don't understand our compulsion. Their loss, I guess.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 15 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Greatly written and explained. I like the way you answered the question from Ann. I learned something from you in the writing world.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! Happy Tuesday to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Colin, their loss for sure. I, for one, can't imagine not writing. :) Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      As always, DDE, I thank you sincerely.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 15 months ago from New Jersey

      Some of this was difficult to read, Bill. I'm so sorry that you're going through a hard time. Thank you for sharing. I hope things look up for you soon.

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      Ruchira Khanna 15 months ago

      I can understand your thrill of publishing a novel vs an article, Bill

      Writing has become a comfort zone for me and I prefer to pen down my thoughts via that source rather than narrating it...who has the time to listen!!

      Read...sure...eventually ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Kailey. Thank you! It will work out in time. It always does. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Ruchira! No one has any time these days....busy little beavers, we are. :) Thank you!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 15 months ago from london

      Well, I hope you make a little more cash soon, Bro. (without too much compromise) never a good thing. But you have a family, and writers like you and I don't make too much. (but you will)

      Another great mailbox and your answer to Ann was just brilliant! I like it. Good luck with your part-time job and lots of Higher blessings to you this season.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill you inspire. To borrow from Cheech -- hey man where do you get your haircut?

      Bill I got resentments. I try to keep positive about life but I have to admit I get a little pissy about life encroaching on my writing. I know I need that life in order to write but it still gnaws in my craw. Are you able to not be upset with writing interfering with life and life interfering with writing. Damned jealous mistresses.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! I'll try to limit my cash intake so I don't get corrupted. :) Blessings my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I get pissy for sure. I was yesterday. I didn't like being around me, so I can imagine how Bev felt.......more next Monday. Thanks my friend.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 15 months ago from Shelton

      76 wow now thats important to me.. I hope all goes and ends well with you and your family.. you're right writing is important for me it lets off steam... and it clears the mind ... thanks for sharing your writing and thanks for lighting the flames to the many of us..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is my pleasure, Frank. I appreciate you joining me on this great journey.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 15 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      You have encouraged me a lot just by saying that you found that fifth gear. I seem to neglect my housework because I cannot get away from my PC and I think I will fall way behind. Now I too will look for my 5th gear. The one thing that I find a bit of a let down is that after I have posted my articles and my poems and received rave comments I feel like OK that was a rush but now what. Then to compensate for that in-between time I start thinking ahead about what I will post next and that sort of gets me over that hump between the comments and the next time.

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      drbj and sherry 15 months ago from south Florida

      Bill - You may be one of the most organized people I know - I'm amazed at how much you accomplish each week with your various writing assignments, jobs and urban farming tasks.

      Signed, an Admirer.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, I'm glad if this encouraged you. Kick it into another gear, my friend, and get busy. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dear Admirer:

      Thank you! :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 15 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I truly hope that things improve for you quickly. It is so hard to try to make ends meet, do what is necessary on a daily basis, and have enough time to simply relax. Godspeed!

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      Heidi Thorne 15 months ago from Chicago Area

      Re: Finances, priorities. Yes, it's tough to make a living writing. We've all heard the stories of such-and-such whiz bang copywriter making thousands for a couple hundred words on a page. But here's the catch: Those jobs could be few and far between. Writing isn't the only field that suffers from this situation. I hope you continue to strike that balance between following profit and passion. You are a true treasure! Happy Holidays!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deb! I have faith that things will be much better by the end of January.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thank you Heidi! Happy Holidays to you and yours in Chicago Land.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 15 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You have verbalized for me the value of writing. I have a website on going global to feature the value of interconnectedness but my effort at this was really mediocre. The enthusiasm when I started was strong, then, I got lost into writing articles that are,way off. It's clear to me now. Like you, I want my life to make a difference.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm so happy to hear that, Aesta. Making a difference, for writers, is our highest calling, I think. :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

      We all have to set priorities. Glad to see this mailbag is still strong.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy about that too, Flourish, and very grateful for people like you. Thank you!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 14 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      As I was reading this it was almost as if I was reading my own words! I could connect with all the questions and answers that were here! I've got a few hubs here where there was quite an emotional investment, and a couple of them didn't 'mince words' but I'm proud of them!

      As for the 'commenting on other folks"s hubs, hey they'll still be there when you get to them! (Why do you think I'm a month behind everyone else! They're too good to miss! Just might take us a while!)

      All the best with the new Job, praying for you folks and for wisdom to know how much to do.

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Lawrence. Wisdom I could use daily, and I'll take all the prayers you send my way. Happy New Year my friend.

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