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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirty-Seven

Updated on March 9, 2015

Welcome Back!

It is sixty-four degrees in Olympia as I write this. As a friend recently stated, through wind and snow, sleet, hail and sunshine, the Mailbag always delivers, so welcome back to the Mailbag.

You ask, I answer, and hopefully we all benefit.

Just this week I finished my third novel, “Shadows Kill.” Six months of my life went into it, and yesterday it seemed a bit strange not to be writing on it. And that leads us to the first question of the day. Remember, if you have a question, just leave it in the comment section below and I’ll get to it next Monday.

Welcome back!
Welcome back! | Source

Inevitable Letdown

From Jeannie: “Bill, I recently finished a novel I’ve been working on for the past year, and I’m oddly depressed about it. Why is that do you suppose? I feel I should be celebrating instead of moping around.”

Jeannie, I understand completely and I don’t think it’s strange at all. For me, it is like I lost a dear friend when I finish a novel. My characters become real to me….they are my friends so to speak…and when I have to say goodbye to them it somewhat depresses me.

The other aspect of this phenomenon, I think, is that writing the novel daily for a year has become part of your routine and really part of your life. When you finish there is a gaping hole in your routine, and I think for many writers that gaping hole needs to be filled again as soon as possible. That’s why I have chosen to start in on the sequel to my novel. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to those characters, and I loved the book premise so much that I wanted to continue with it.

Resumes Again

From Sha: “I have a question regarding the resume issue. At one point, I had a writer's resume in addition to my regular chronological one. My writer's resume resulted in a gap of about 25 plus years between now and when I had a copyrighting career in the 1980s. So, now I use the chronological one. The downfall there is, in order to cite my previous writing experience, I have to go way back. Fortunately, I didn't have a gizzillion jobs in between, but it brings my resume to just over three pages (In addition to employment info, I include my certifications and publications, and hobbies). I know a lengthy resume is as much a no-no as having a huge gap in employment.

How do you suggest I find a happy medium yet have a resume that will be read?”

One great question after another.

Actually, Sha, I was just reading about this the other day. What a coincidence! With the advent of computers and attachments, the concept of a one page resume is not as important as it once was. I have no idea why that is, but polls are showing that employers don’t mind job applicants going over one page.

If, however, you still want to shorten it, then I guess I would ask how important that writing experience from way back is…and is it worth including? If it is, then I would suggest skipping some of the jobs that do not apply to the job you are applying for. For those of us who are a certain age, skipping some years and having gaps in a resume is not all that strange. We can always fill in the gaps if the one hiring has questions about them.

Reading books is the best writing habit you can cultivate
Reading books is the best writing habit you can cultivate | Source

Learning to Become a Writer

From Claudia: “Here is the question I'd like to ask with the hope you will someday answer it in your series. Of course, since I've only read one, there may be a chance you've previously answered this already.


I'd like to know if you have any advice for someone who desires to be a writer, but does not come by it naturally, like most writers do. Wanting to share, what is in your heart and head, with the world can be a very daunting task when you struggle just to express yourself.

Of course I know writing, even for a natural writer, is work and everyone struggles to a point. I believe that a natural has a God given talent for expressing themselves in their writing. How can someone that does not have that ability naturally, find a way to cultivate it.”

Wow! Let me repeat, Claudia….WOW!

I wish I could be your writing coach. You and I could do wonders.

The first advice I will always give someone who wants to improve their writing is to read, read and read some more. We learn by seeing and experiencing, and I do believe it is possible to improve our writing by osmosis when reading the works of others.

The second piece of advice I have is to trust your senses. All readers and all writers share the senses. We all see, smell, feel, etc. Play to that fact when you write. Don’t worry about being grammatically correct and concentrate, instead, on telling your readers what your senses are experiencing with regards to the topic of your article. Plug into the senses of your reader and you will make a connection, and writing is all about connections. I just had this lesson taught to me by a beta reader. In one part of my new novel I wrote that the characters sat down and had breakfast. My beta reader informed me that I should describe what the breakfast was since she reacts strongly to food descriptions.

There is so much more to tell you…email me if you want and we can work on it.

Bev is one of my trusted beta readers
Bev is one of my trusted beta readers | Source

Beta Readers

From Emese: “I have no idea what beta readers are,”

And from Jim: “I have a question about Beta-Readers that Melissa asked in your article. Can you please clarify what a Beta-reader is for me? Sorry maybe I overlooked the answer as I made my way through the article, and if I did. Then I apologize for that. Keep them coming and voted 2 thumbs up as well!”

My bad for not mentioning this earlier. For whatever reason I just assumed that people knew what beta readers were.

A beta reader is usually a non-professional who offers to read your manuscript and give feedback on it. This is before publication, of course. This really isn’t an edit, because editing usually relates to grammar as well as story line. Usually a beta reader won’t be asked to comment on grammar, but rather gives suggestions about rhythm, flow, voice, plot, etc.

And usually a beta reader will do it for free, which of course is very valuable.

Serving Several Mistresses

From Linda: “But it makes me wonder--I have several "passions". Does having more than one dilute the impact any one of them can have? Does dividing my time among 3 different interests (not counting family) result in three mediocre endeavors rather than one great achievement? I feel like I'm caught in a lovers triangle.”

Linda, I don’t see any possible way for me to answer this other than subjectively. I doubt there are scientific studies about this.

In my opinion yes, I think you definitely dilute the impact when you divide your time between three passions. Can it be done? I’m sure it can be done by very organized people, but I’m not one of them. Writing is my passion. It fills my every waking moment other than my responsibilities to family. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be, and I don’t see how I can do that if I have other passions as well. I think that explains why I have no hobbies. I have no time for them.

Having said all that, if you have three passions, and you receive great pleasure from all three, then I think you should follow all three. Life is too short to ignore a passion, so I say go for it if that’s what you want to do.

How’s that for a wishy-washy answer?

And That’s It for This Week

What a great week of questions! I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I hope all of you found something you can use in the future. Keep those questions coming and the Mailbag will return next week with more interesting questions and answers.

Have a great week of writing! Remember that the words you write today will live on for centuries, and isn’t that a very cool thought?

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is, Glimmer. It's like letting go of a child and sending them off to college. :) The empty nest syndrome of writing. :) Thank you for all the visits yesterday. Greatly appreciated.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      I was thinking that was what a beta reader was. Interesting gig! Also interesting that your top question was about feeling oddly sad about finishing a novel. I would add that although I don't write novels, I sometimes feel a bit sad after an article that I took a very long time on is finally online. It's amazing how attached we become to our writing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks vkwok! Have a great week.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Great installment, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      tirelesstraveler, I'll answer you on Monday. Thanks for the question.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      I have some people who would be love to be beta readers, how does that work?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Aesta! I am a huge believer in reading to improve your writing. It's good to hear your perspective on it.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When I did my dissertation I was advised to get 3 readers in my circle to go over my work. It was really helpful especially because one of my friends was an editor. I agree about read, read, and read. My husband reads everything even the labels of bottles and cans and he is a terrific writer. These days, however, he spends time writing technical papers and reports. I read a lot before but mostly technical and useful information. It was only when I moved to Canada that I started reading fiction and now, I read a lot and I notice that my creative writing has also improved.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Jim. This series lives on because of great questions like yours, so thank you.

      Bill

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 2 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Bill - Thanks for answering my previous question from mailbag 36 about what a Beta-Reader is. Greatly appreciate clarifying that in mailbag 37. Of which I found to be just as interesting and enjoyable as the previous mailbag articles in your series! They get better as you age and a great learning experience which I gave 2 thumbs up to as well!

      Jim

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deb! I have no doubt you handle different passions well. I wonder how many people are able to do that effectively, though. I appreciate your perspective and I'm sure glad you do what you do.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Another wonderful installment with useful questions and answers.

      Congratulations for your achievement of writing another novel.

      You inspire like no one else. Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great material, as always, but I'd like to take a stab at Linda's question. As one of those people with several passions--writing, photography, and cooking, just to name a few, I have no problem with devoting time to any of them. Just because I am not physically writing, does not mean that I am not working on it. There is a lot of material in my head, always getting mulled over and turned about. In photography, when I am out, as well as when I return home, I am processing photos. When I cook, I cook. Granted, I don't have other distractions, like family and TV, so it works, but like I said, there are a lot more things that I really enjoy, too. There is a happy medium in there.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Flourish. I can only handle one mistress at a time. :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on that third novel, a large achievement. Good advice on serving many mistresses, too.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you lawrence. I feel pretty good about this one.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Alicia! On to novel #4

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Congratulations on the third novel. It's a major achievement

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting read once again, just like all your Monday mailbag hubs, Bill. Congratulations on finishing your third novel.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds good, lawrence. :)

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      We'll keep working and praying about that next step

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, I do agree that there are those who are just in another talent zip code than the rest of us, and that is natural talent that you cannot teach. I also believe an average writer can become a good writer....it's the next step up from good that's a bugger. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill I tend to agree that you can learn to be a good writer but there's the extra gift that takes the possesor into a different league. However Tolkien wrote for years before publishing the Hobbit. He sat weekly with other writers and listened etc

      So many writers werr told they were 'average' they were probably tempted to give up but kept going. Im glad they did and so will this one even if I'm only average!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Claudia and thanks for stopping by for a cup of coffee and a chat. Get in touch with me any old time if you want to kick some things around. I'm pretty big on writers helping writers.

      The only way for me to relate to Linda's question was to remember my days teaching and coaching and writing....keeping those three balls in the air at the same time was a challenge but I loved it.

    • Claudia Mathews profile image

      Claudia Mathews 2 years ago

      Good Morning Bill. As usual, you have outdone yourself with this hub. Thanks for answering my question and offering additional help if needed. I will be sure to take you up on that.

      Boy can I relate to Linda's question. I have so many interests, though not sure if I can label them all as passions. It can be difficult when you are trying to focus on one interest, you often feel a different one vying for your attentions. You gave her great advice though, life really is too short not to enjoy every moment of it you can. Voted UP n UP!!!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! The questions are actually getting better with time, like a fine Merlot aged in oak barrels. :) Happy Tuesday to you, my friend.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Hooray, Mailbag Monday! You are still getting a packed mailbag I see with plenty of interesting questions with insightful answers provided as always.

      Congrats on your third novel! Wow, that is so wonderful, Bill.

      Peace and blessings and much success to you

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Samantha. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Samantha Sinclair profile image

      Samantha Sinclair 2 years ago from North Carolina

      I've never heard of a Beta reader before. Thanks for providing my learning moment of the day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I suspect you are right about the letdown, but there's no surprise in you being right. :) Happy Days with those temps. I think you have paid your dues this winter. Enjoy the week and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill. I'm having a blast with this series. Makes me feel like I'm still in a classroom teaching. Enjoy your week, my friend.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Monday! Or should I say Writer's Mailbag Day. :)

      The letdown of completing a book is similar to the letdown after achieving any goal. I think the only way to get around that is to start on what's next, whatever that is. True artists and dreamers never feel that they've arrived; they've just reached the next plateau. And when writers keep reading (as you suggest), they soon realize there is ALWAYS a next plateau.

      Have a lovely week! With temps heading toward 50 this week, we're basking in the sunshine here in CHI.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Another wonderful installment Bill. Great advice to everyone who asked you a question. I must confess, beta-reader, I had no idea. Have a great week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Clive. As long as you and others love this series it will keep on truckin'.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, you summed it all up perfectly...beta readers see things we miss. They are invaluable to anyone writing a book. Don't leave home without one. :)

      blessings my friend

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      Love this installment Billy, Good advice from that beta reader about describing the breakfast though. Two thumbs up

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Lori, and thanks for the question. I'll tackle that one Monday. I'm glad the beta information helped you....I would love to answer your question now but it will take too long, and I am guessing more out there are curious as well.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      No hobbies, eh. Please don't neglect those chickens, Bro. :)

      I had not heard of a Beta -Reader myself, but interestingly, I was using one. I had a standard proof-reader and that's all she did. In fact she commented once, and that was when I did Chapter 13, the one on Purity. So I re-read it, said the same thing but in a much gentler way.

      Another Friend was my Beta-Reader. Beta Readers are awesome and help a great deal. We do the writing, but they see things that we miss, and as such we have the opportunity to expand much more.

      Great Hub. In Love and Light.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I'm glad you defined beta reader. I thought it was going to be some electronic device, like a kindle, with perhaps some new and unique features.

      My question for the mailbag is, what is your personal opinion or preference, and/or your professional one, about articles on hubpages having a lot (and I mean a lot) of photos, amazon, ebay products, and other such things. I battle a lot how much to do this. Pictures bring life to the article to me, but can also be a distracting if done too much. I have almost completely quit posting amazon stuff unless I am writing a book review or a topic that can really benefit the reader who needs more in depth. Do you know of any rule of thumb so to speak?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank. I'm not sure I'm ever done with a book, but I really need to trust my instincts and move on.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, honestly, I'm enjoying this series much more than I thought I would. I look forward to the questions each week and it's nice to know I'm not the only one. Thank you my friend, and best wishes for the week ahead.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I think you are asking a question every novelist asks as they prepare a sequel. I'll give it a go in next week's mailbag. Great question and I thank you.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      keep the mail flowing LOL.. congrats on finishing up your book, wishing you great success..

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Hi Bill, another very useful mailbag, it just keep getting better always enlightening and very relevant.

      My best always.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Wow, indeed... a very full mailbag. A question for when you start the sequel. How will you treat the characters from the old book in the new book. Will all carry over, will you simply ignore them, for talk about where they went. Will you introduce new characters? Why and How?

      You don't need to answer this right away, just when it feel right, if it ever does! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tireless, I'm gad to hear your health is better. Welcome back and thanks for thinking of me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sandra, in many ways I do. LOL I usually wake up with ideas, so evidently my muse doesn't sleep at all. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I'd love to get out in the sunshine today but duty calls. I had a great weekend of sun, though, so no complaints.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deborah. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      It seems like forever since my last visit. Readers mail bag is great. Health is better and time is more abundant I should be around more regularly.

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      Sandra Joy Eastman 2 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      I think you must write even in your sleep. Another great lesson. Thank you.

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      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. Thank you for another great mailbag, and for an answer to my question. (BTW, I love your wishy-washiness.)

      Elated for you that you have finished your novel. I'm looking forward to seeing it in print. (Maybe an autographed copy??)

      Well duty (one of my passions) calls. This Spring-like weather is just too good to ignore. Hope you are having a great Monday.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks again, for another great round of answers to some interesting questions.

      Namaste.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Larry. I have to admit I love it too.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Ann! Great question and I hope to have a great answer for you on Monday. Quick answer...yes, very, and it is the reason I don't write as many "reflective" articles as I once did. It just takes too much out of me and affects my mood for days.

      Have a great week, my friend, and thank you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A valid question, Catherine. Thank you. I happen to know that particular person wants to write because they love to write, and they hope to one day improve to the point of writing a novel.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL..Dora, I love that line. I hope you get there soon too. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Melissa. Nice to see you again. Congratulations on the spring weather. As for your question, I'll have an answer next Monday, but the quick answer is yes. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, they are all over the place. You just have to find them. Mine come mostly from HP, friends who are willing to give me a hand and read my manuscripts. Writing clubs will serve the same purpose...there are many online writing communities where you can find people willing to do it for you.

      Thank you for joining me this Monday. Have a wonderful week.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Brad. I'm looking forward to those things as well. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Ruby, you have gone far beyond the wannabe stage. You are a writer. Declare it to the world, my friend, and thank you for your kindness.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I love your mailbag series.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Well, today I've learnt what a beta-reader is, so thanks for that!

      I can understand how you can feel bereft when a novel finishes; I haven't written a novel but I often feel a void when I've finished a story that's taken a while to complete. Something that's been a focus for more than a few days can take over your life, can't it? I find I'm on a high for a while, especially if it's well received, then the next 'fix' is needed!

      I have a question which is pertinent to me at the moment. If what you're writing about is more than usually emotional for you, do you find it difficult to write? How do you overcome that? I know emotions and passion are essential for good writing but some personal history can be painful and it's that sort of thing I'm talking about.

      Always a great Monday read, bill. Hope your week's a great one.

      Ann :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Some great questions this week and some great answers. Your advice to the person who is not a "natural writer" but who wants to write, is good advice. However, I would ask him why he wants to write. Is it part of his job?

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks again. I hope I will soon get to the letdown you inspirational people talk about.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday! Great mailbag, as usual, I enjoyed it very much. I'm sure I have some more questions, but at this moment I'm still trying to "adjust" to the spring weather which has finally arrived in Minnesota. It's in the 50's today and will be in the 60's for the next several days! Between the daylight savings time loss of sleep and this gorgeous weather, I'm having a hard time concentrating... Actually, I do have a question. You are a very "scheduled" kind of person, so does the time change affect your writerly bio-rhythm?

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy

      I was just going to Google Beta readers and then found the explanation right in front of my eyes. I thought it must be some newfangled electronic gadget which did it all for you. Imagine, people actually use humans to read their writing, now, that sure is a novel idea.

      Where do you find these Beta humans?

      Thanks Billy I learned something new today.

      Sally

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I am looking forward to seeing your book cover all over the place.

      Also, the sizzle for the book itself.

      Congrats, and the Shadow Knows.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great questions and answers. Now I know what a Beta Reader is. Thank you for always being there for us wanabe writers Bill..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for the congratulations because I did make it to the end. LOL

      Funny, but I was just discussing this point with another friend. I think reading is important for writers, but the fact remains that some people have the gift and some never will. I think people can become fairly proficient at being serviceable writers, but the truly great ones are just born with creativity and you can't teach that.

      That was a long way to go to simply say I agree with you, Brad.

      Whew! Glad we got both of those comments out of the way so we can get something done today.

      Thanks my friend. Have a great Monday!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Mary! Oddly, I was going to address your question in a hub this week, but I don't know if I'll get around to it...so, the answer to your question will either be in a hub this week or it will be included in next week's mailbag. Stay tuned....and thank you.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      And the beat goes on, you will have to think about weaning us off the mailbag, if and when you end it. I did say, IF.

      My comment is on the READ READ READ answer, and it in no way a challenge to that statement. Remember, I don't read fiction, but a friend of mine is a very avid reader, including fiction. For decades, he read everything that had print on it. He would even read the words on silverware, and anything on the table at restaurants. One time, we drove to someplace I had to pick up something. I left him in my car, picked up the item, and on my return, I found him reading my dashboard.

      After that, I would put various magazines in the back seat just in case. I was going to college at night, and I had my textbooks in the car, and if the opportunity arose, he would read them. He knew more about the subject than I knew about it. Reading was a task for me, but a joy for him.

      The point is that he read over ten thousand novels, and that number is probably even higher today. Yet, after all this reading of fiction, he possessed little real creativity or imagination. He fancied himself as a writer. I was one of the few people that would read his work, and none of his three wives would read it.

      His writing was a collage of various novels that he read over the years. It was pretty much cut and paste. A few years ago, he finally published his writing on the Internet. I guess, it is his passion.

      Your advice on READing is the general rule, and I have mentioned this story as an exception. If I were to write fiction, my only positive attribute would be that it would all come from my creativity and imagination. I would have to be told that my writing was not original because I would have no personal experience with the writings of others.

      A novel is a work of art, as is a painting. Both should be judged subjectively, and not as a brittle structure of rules. Only writers and artists look at these works objectively and in the confines of proper structure. The average person only has to intrinsically appreciate it, without any formal training of writing, or painting.

      Yes, I am aware of the length of this comment. Usually, most people are glazed over by this point, and wouldn't be awake at this point. So, if you got this far, congrats.

      lol

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      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      As always, interesting and educational. So, how can you know if you're a great writer? I mean, you love writing, your work is good but where does the line form between good and great? When can you tell if its worthwhile going ahead and trying to get that novel edited and maybe published?

      Voted all but funny.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I happen to agree with you. That certain something that distinguishes the greats from the also-rans...that's a gift and not everyone has it or will ever have it. I can make an average writer a good writer by working on fundamentals. I will never be able to make an average writer a truly great writer.

      Thanks for that. The angels are drinking some milk and eating some cookies, but they will be heading back your way soon.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well congratulations, Pop! Turns out you are more talented than you thought. :)

      Thanks my friend and Happy Monday to you.

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      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I learned something today. I am a beta reader! Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

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      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting helpful answers, Bill. To the question about cultivating the writing skill I read especially with interest. It is my belief, for whatever that is worth...like here's a dime...and add a couple dollars and you can get a cuppa'....that to be a writer one must have 98% 'the gift' and 2% developed ability

      Not everyone has the talent to turn out a novel or story or whatever that will captivate the senses and make us want to read on.

      I think it is possible to learn the fundamentals of writing but that magic, that fluidity that comes from within that cannot be learned, that gets at the heart of the matter.

      Of course like I said this is my OpiniOn and we all know what those opinions can get us.

      Keep on helping us to find the answers we seek, Bill.

      Have a most lovely Monday and know that many blessings are on the way to you and are being carried to you on the wings of Angels ps

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Sha. I actually look forward to this series too. As for the resume, it's an interesting problem that many of us Boomers face....too much experience to fit on one page. LOL Good luck and have a superb week of writing.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I always look forward to this series, Bill. Thank you for answering my question. I do think it's important to include my '80s experience, as it was in the TV arena. That, coupled with all I've had to learn to be a writer in today's environment, shows my versatility. I'll check out the video you provided on the topic of resumes.

      Thanx and have a great week!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. A large part of whatever writing talent I have came from books. My love of writing certainly came from reading. I can't imagine a writer not reading.

      Happy Monday dear friend.

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      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Happy Monday, Bill! You know I just love your advice here so much each week and once again very much agree about reading helping and correlating to better one's writing skills and why I love to on a daily basis to indeed make sure to set aside time to read even if it is just other articles and magazines. So, I do think that is such an important element to enhancing our writing techniques and just couldn't agree more.