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The Writer's Mailbag: installment 229

Updated on November 5, 2018

Am I the Only One?

There are a number of people who read the Mailbag, and participate in the Mailbag discussions, who are not from the United States. For all of you, I apologize for the next few sentences.

But I am totally done with the mid-term election vitriol this year. The elections are tomorrow and I say THANK GOD they are. If I see one more divisive television ad I’m going to vomit. For the past couple months, this election has dominated the news, and I am so over it and the hatred it has spawned. I’m not sure any of us can really claim victory when there is so much nastiness surrounding and infiltrating us. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in the United States, we are like a huge dysfunctional family numbering in the hundreds of millions.

Thank God for the Mailbag. Here I can find sanity among kind, loving people.

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room! | Source

I Could Have Done It Better

From John: “After you have written and published a novel do you ever read it and think “damn I could have said that better” or have a lightbulb moment of something else you’d like to add to it but it’s too late? With no fiction type articles and books you can make changes in a second edition or revision but you can’t do that with a novel can you? You probably proof read enough and have beta readers to be reasonably sure it’s how you want it before publishing but I know with things I have written, at least on HubPages where changes are easy, I often go back and change things and make improvements.”

Shoot, John, I feel that way after every single book I publish. I really think that is a malady almost all writers have and live with. I do realize I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, but I also think I am not alone in feeling dissatisfaction.

Actually, I have made corrections to novels after they were published on Amazon/CreateSpace. It wasn’t difficult to do at all, just change my Word Doc with the changes and/or additions I want, and download it again onto their template. Technology has made many of these things so easy for us writers, and for that I am grateful.

I could have done better!
I could have done better!

Switching Gears

From Ann: “This might be a question for your mailbag: Do you ever think that you've had enough of the 'heavy' stuff (like writing novels or stuff about how to write) and just turn to light-hearted pieces? I've exhausted myself with the stress of writing about good structure and grammar, making sure I've got it right, and I'm now back to a little poetry; that's purely subjective and no one can tell me it's right or wrong!”

Oh sure, Ann, most definitely! I’ve made several changes over the years, especially on HubPages. I go through periods…social conscience pieces…..dark fiction….humorous pieces….reflective about the inner struggle…political activism….back when I was writing three or four articles per week with HP, those periods were very pronounced and noticeable to those who followed me.

I’m actually about to do an about-face with my novels, too. I’m going to finish my current “Shadows” novel, #5 in the series, and then take a break from the paranormal thrillers. I have two other novels I want to write, and neither of them focus on killing, so it will be quite a shift for me, and that shift is happening because my muse has told me ENOUGH IS ENOUGH with the murder and mayhem.

And I made a conscious decision some time ago to no longer write political pieces. They are just too divisive, and I think we all need to learn to come together in peace. The world will get along quite well without my opinions on the state of politics, so I respectfully leave that cauldron-stirring to others who feel a need to write it.

Today I prefer to write about beauty
Today I prefer to write about beauty | Source

Authentic Repetition

From Eric: “Ann just wrote a piece partially dealing with using the same words over and over. I see it as a sign of illiteracy in the day to day. Say it from a different vantage point I say. But one of my characters is a police soldier dude and he has to start every sentence in a kind of "salute". "Yes Mum" I think is correct. It is wrote. Can I change this?”

Actually, Eric, I think that is one of the rare times when you can get away with using the same phrasing. Soldiers and police officers are trained to begin each sentence that way, so in order for you to be accurate, you really do have to do that. But . . . and there’s always a but, isn’t there . . . you can still vary it a bit by describing the stance of the police soldier just before he speaks, or his expression, or what he is doing as he speaks. It would go like this . ..

Instead of this . . .

“Yes, Mum, I hear you clearly, and now I want you to hear what I’m saying. You’re under arrest.”

It would be like this . . .

Office Pearson took a sip of water and looked at the suspect. “Yes, Mum, I hear you clearly, and now I want you to hear what I’m saying. You’re under arrest!”

That gives the reader just a bit of a different approach to each line and it doesn’t appear to be quite so repetitive.

Make sense?

What Doesn’t Make Sense Is This

It makes no sense to continue with today’s Mailbag when the questions have been exhausted, so we will wrap it up for the day.

So I will leave you with an excerpt from the novel I’m working on, “The Magician’s Shadow”

Liz was true to her word. She and Sarah returned four hours later laden with bags and boxes, Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, North Face, giving the impression of two mountaineers preparing for a summit of Mt. Rainier. But it was all practical wear, heavy emphasis on fleece, the default go-to clothing article of the Pacific Northwest. I then spent the next half hour watching them model their clothes, Sarah with a bewildered look on her face, Liz smiling with uncontrolled happiness as only a pregnant woman carrying the future can smile. The last item Sarah showed me was a modest skirt, turquoise in color, sandals, and a black blouson blouse/shirt. She looked like a radiant teenager. She had tears in her eyes.

“I just don’t get it,” she said. “I don’t understand why you are helping me.”

“Do you know what the name Sarah means in Hebrew?” I asked her. Our new friend shook her head. “It means lady, or noblewoman, and that’s what you are in my eyes. My name, Eli, means the ascended one in Hebrew, a name given to the high priest in the Book of Samuel. Liz says I deserve that name, even though I go around shooting dicks off of pimps, and I respect Liz’s opinion, so there you go. Sarah, there are some things in life we don’t get to choose. Your parents dying in a car crash, my old man getting knifed in prison, those things, we never see them coming, and we sure as shit don’t deserve them, but they happen and that’s just the real of it. That doesn’t mean, however, that we deserve to suffer for the rest of our lives because of them. Liz is why I no longer suffer. She is the equalizer in my life, and now we’ve decided to do the same for you. But . . . sit down, Sarah, you need to be aware of something.”

She did as instructed, sat down on the couch, and Liz joined her, taking her hand, squeezing it, smiling. I pulled up a chair, sat down in front of them both.

“Being with us can be dangerous, Sarah,” Liz started. “We are in a battle, and people die because of that battle.”

“Who are you battling?”

“Evil Himself,” I told her. “We call him the Shadow Man. We can’t kill him; he can’t kill us; but he can kill our loved ones, and right now he is active, killing young kids, and daring us to interfere so he can kill our baby or someone else we care about. He will somehow find out about you; he always does; and when he does, you will have a target on you until we find a way to stop him.”

Have a great week!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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