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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #338

A Pinch of Appreciation

I was thinking the other day, on a walk with Maggie, about the reality I find myself in, namely growing older.

It definitely takes some adjustment in attitudes, and there are most definitely things I can no longer do, but it’s not all that bad. One area where I flourish today, where I was lacking fifty years ago, is appreciation.

When I was young, life was a breakneck blur of activity and adventures and experiences. We did things because we were driven to do them. That mountain over there looks nice from here, but I wonder what it would look like standing on top of it, and so we climbed, and we approached every single day in an almost frantic sense of “doing.” At least it was that way for me.

But today . . . today I appreciate little things much more. I smell more keenly. I see textures where once there were flat shapes. I embrace colors and contours, and the tiniest of objects are as majestic to me, today, as the gargantuan are.

It’s nice, you know?

What do you say? Should we tackle a few questions about writing this morning?

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Ponderings About the Seasons of Life

From Eric: “Your book getting the boot, made me wonder. If us mere mortals start it in spring and finish it in late fall. Of what season do we write. Indeed our daily seasons and our seasons of life.”

Eric, you’re oozing reflection this morning. Love the question. I’m definitely writing in the late autumn of my life. I didn’t start until the early autumn, so I’m in kind of a hurry. You know, writing is what I wanted to do when I was a college student. I pictured myself a successful author, teaching a college course in creative writing, and all of my financial needs taken care of by my royalties from book sales. That was back in the spring of my life, or early summer.

But then life got in the way of that dream, and the seasons moved on and, well, here I am.

Late Autumn for this writer

Late Autumn for this writer

The End of the HP Community?

From Denise: “Do you believe it is the end of the writing community and we are back to being hermit writers with little or no feedback? I would really hate to lose all the valuable feedback and encouragement I've received these past 6 years.”

Denise, the pessimist in me believes the HP community will slowly fade away, and it really does break my heart to think that. The optimist in me believes HP will see the light and remain a community platform were we writers can continue to support one another.

Only time will tell, I guess.

There are other sites. There is a writers’ group called The Writers Circle on Facebook where you can find that old-time community love. Check it out! Maybe that’s what most of us will eventually have to do with our articles.

Digging for Creativity

From MizB: “Good morning, Bill. Just a thought, but somehow I can’t see digging for creativity. Is that really creativity or is it manipulation? In my case the creativity comes to me and I write it up, but any digging I do is for the authorship or carrying out of the idea. Does that make sense or do I have the wrong understanding of the question?”

No, it makes sense to me. It’s how creativity works for me, MizB. I don’t dig it up at all. I don’t even think about it, ponder it, or walk in its direction. I just wake up, go about my business, and creative ideas come to me out of nowhere. It’s like playing word association, except for me it’s creative idea association. I’ll see a flowering bush, and it will remind me of something, which in turn becomes something one of my characters will say. I’ll see a Big Toy on a playground, which will remind me of something my grandmother said once, which will become a scene in a book. Yesterday a politician said something about homelessness, and a short story idea popped into my head.

Anyway, I leave my shovel home when I’m writing. I just travel the highway of creativity and see where it will take me.

Creativity can be found anywhere without even looking for it

Creativity can be found anywhere without even looking for it

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Rejection and Confidence

From Rodric: “You probably mentioned this before but I must ask again with a bit of a preamble. I was recently rejected by a traditional publisher. I was thinking about self-publishing because my feelings were hurt. I remember reading that you approve of self-publishing. None of my other books have done well going that route, three so far. It really is affecting my confidence in my ability to write anything other than an article. I don't want to give up. I need to sign up for your writer's course if you still give it. How can I do that? I have lost the information I had before. Also, I am reexamining the rejected manuscript. It is not fiction, but a faith-promoting book. Does that have any bearing on why it was rejected, you think?”

There is a lot to cover here, Rodric! First of all, you can contact me at about coaching. I still work cheap, so it won’t break your bank, and we can get some things done.

As for publishing, and rejection, I say this without an ounce of malice or snideness: welcome to the club. The numbers are hard to nail down regarding the number of manuscripts which are pitched to agents and/or traditional publishers each year, but let’s use a fairly conservative figure of 400,000.

Less than 1% of those 400,000 will be published by a traditional publisher like Random House or Penguin Books. The reason for that is pure economics. Traditional publishing companies have been hurt by self-publishing. Fewer people have the money to pay for a book off the shelf. More people are paying $10 for a self-published book on Amazon. Brick and mortar bookstores are going out of business. For all of those reasons, very few traditional publishers are willing to spend money promoting books written by unknown writers. They stick with the winners, the well-known authors, they already have in their stable of writers. It’s really that simple.

There may be nothing wrong with your books at all. They may be quite good. But the economics of the book publishing business mean you are facing a serious uphill battle in getting your books published.

If you insist on going that route, learn to write a high-quality query letter. Keep working on your craft, improving your writing. Neither of those things will guarantee that you find a publisher, but they will at least improve your chances.

Like my friend Heidi will surely tell you in her comments, I’m not sure finding a traditional publisher is the best route. You have just as good a chance of selling lots of books through self-publishing and learning how to self-market your books.

Best of luck to you!

Back to Appreciation

I wish I had appreciated all of the things I did in my youth as much as I appreciate life now, but that’s just the way it is with our younger selves. There is an almost frantic need to do, and less of a need to appreciate what we are doing.

Today I’m all about appreciation. I’ve been given a gift, the gift of creativity, and I love what I’m doing. I’ve been given the opportunity to rub shoulders with a wonderful community of writers here on the Hub, and I greatly appreciate that.

So thank you, to you all, for letting me be a member of your Cool Kids Club!

And, as the holidays rapidly approach, please do all things with love. There are a lot of people out there suffering right now. They are frightened. They are angry. We need comforting words now, not words which fan the flames of discord.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 09, 2020:

All good advice, Flourish! Thanks for the cheerleading moment. :) Happy Holidays to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 09, 2020:

Thank you so much, Mary! I appreciate you buying the book. Now, when are you going to send me some writing to work on for you?

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 08, 2020:

Regarding rejection, it's important not to take things too personally. Focus on a SMART goal, solicit feedback and actually listen to it, then work on getting better every day. Don't stop.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 08, 2020:

I think that the Amazon way you do it with your books work well. It is easy to order. I just got my copy and can't wait to read it.

I was talking to a friend this morning and I hammered on her how much we need to appreciate whatever little effort someone does. I wish I have done more of it myself.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

All true, Venkatachari M. It is possible to comment. It might take a little effort, but all is not lost. And I suspect it will get easier soon, perhaps right after the first of the year. So let's all hope.

Thank you, sir! I hope you have a wonderfully Happy Holidays!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Thank you so much, Gyanendra! That was a lovely compliment and I appreciate it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Thank you Linda! Happy Tuesday to you, and Happy Holidays!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Thank you Alyssa, and just so you know, I appreciate you. Thank you for always being here. Now go decorate something! I know you're dying to make another DIY decoration. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Jo, you and my Bev could trade war stories about being a single parent. She was always exhausted but loved every minute of the experience.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

John, I think of the stories and novels I could have written, if I had started 30 years ago, and I cringe. Truthfully, it makes me a bit sad, but there's nothing I can do about that. Happy Tuesday to you! Enjoy that rain!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

I understand, Dora! HP has made it hard for us if we don't catch the article in the first couple hours. Hopefully that will change soon. You take care and blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

No regrets, Meg! That's what I have to keep telling myself. Make the most of the time remaining, Bill, and be thankful. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Denise, that's me, Mr. Duplicitous! lol You're welcome! As for less is better, I totally agree. I want for nothing, and that's a beautiful place to reside.

Blessings to you always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Mr. Happy, I'm glad you realize Jeff Bezos needs the cash. LOL You are right on with your first statement: living under a dictatorship would give birth to appreciation real fast, wouldn't it? Thanks for that perspective. We Americans tend to forget how nice we have it here.

Happy Tuesday to you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Thank you Brenda! That would be wonderful, having someone else promote our work. I don't see it happening in my lifetime, but it sure is a nice thought. :) Happy Holidays to you, Brenda, and Merry Christmas!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Thank you so much, Miebakagh! I appreciate you as well. I love having a friend in Nigeria! It makes me feel connected to the large world, and I think it brings us all closer together.

Happy Holidays to you as well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

I completely agree with you, Peggy! The commenting is what makes HP such a wonderful experience. I don't think I want to be here if they eliminate the human interaction.

Thanks so much and Happy Tuesday to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

That is just plain weird, Ann! I was just thinking about that isolation topic this morning. I'll have more on it next Monday but my God, lady, you are tuned into my thoughts today.

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


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Hi Bill! Thanks for your input. That barn is about five miles from where I sit right now. There are quite a few of them dotting the landscape just outside of Olympia.

Happy Tuesday to you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2020:

Heidi, I knew you would come through with the skinny on this topic. I love your statement about taking the egos out of the publishing discussion. That is so true, although it is easier said than done for many. It took me a long time not to take this personally. I finally made it, but it was a painful process. Nobody like rejection, in any shape or form.

Happy Tuesday my friend, and thank you!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on December 08, 2020:

Very nice to read those opening and closing lines of this mailbag, My bro Bill! Your thoughts and ponderings on the changing times of life can be related to each one of our life dreams and expectations (the struggles, failures, achievements, etc.).

Now, regarding the sense of vanishing community feeling among our writers here, I do also realize it to some extent. But, whenever you want to leave a comment on any article published by your friend, you can do it even after 2 or 3 days by going to that particular post on the feed pages of HP and comment there always with no restraint. You can always find the 'post your comment' field there. So, it is not that bad as most of us believe.

Wishing you Happy Holidays.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on December 07, 2020:

Bill, I am thriiled to have read your article here. Not only that I feel blessed when I read your articles, I feel you are playing football with the words like Pele. I hope I am not flattering you. Thank you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 07, 2020:

Appreciation is an important concept. Thank you for the reminder, Bill. I hope you have a good week.

Alyssa from Ohio on December 07, 2020:

Amazing mailbag this week, Bill! I love your notes on appreciation. I think we all could use more of it in our lives. I appreciate your knowledge on traditional publishing. As for the writing community, I'm awaiting more news on comments for niche sites. They mentioned something in the last email that was sent out. Hopefully we'll get concrete answers soon. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful week!

P.S. I love your Autumn photo!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 07, 2020:

I agree with your assessment that life can be precious in our golden years, but then I've appreciated most of mine. I loved my childhood and it often seems I'm reliving it in many ways now. As a single parent, my middle years were involved with raising my daughters and making a living, but I loved, loved, loved being a mom.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on December 07, 2020:

Bill, I finally caught a mailbag in my feed. That is great news. Like you, these are the best years of my life or the happiest anyway. I just wish I was living this way, and writing, 30 years ago lol. I do appreciate everything much more. Great mailbag this week and lots to reflect on. Thank you for the plug for the Writers Circle group on Facebook too. Raining here which has made a welcome relief to our recent heatwave. Have a great week.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 07, 2020:

Bill, I share your appreciation for the little things. So many people close to me have passed this year, and even as I grieve, I'm grateful for my share of life's little pleasures. I am so grateful for this opportunity to respond to your mailbag today. Please know that when I don't, it's because I don't know how. I appreciate the community interaction.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on December 07, 2020:

Appreciation is very important. I too wish I had understood it more when I was young and appreciated the opportunities I had and wasted!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 07, 2020:

You are a little duplicitous with your yin/yang answer but I get it. I still appreciate your feedback and the community even if it is harder to find them and comment.

I too appreciate what I have more than ever before. As a matter of fact, I appreciate having less instead of more. I remember in my younger years I wanted to strive for more and now I wonder why. Less is more, as they say, and I love what little we have more than I ever like when we had much more. If that makes sense...



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

The Mailbag will continue, Linda, until my fingers no longer work. That I promise!

A wet one ahead for us. Oh joy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Kathy, that was a lovely note. Thank you! This community is very important to me. I'm not able to comment on as many articles as I once did. Time just won't allow me to do that, and that makes me sad. This current change in HP makes me sad. I want 2020 to go away and give us a break, you know?

Blessings to you always, my friend.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on December 07, 2020:

You know what helps with "appreciation"? Being born and raised in a dictatorship.

"Denise, the pessimist in me believes the HP community will slowly fade away" - Everything fades away in this three-dimensional perspective. Where are the Sumerians now? (Always nice to have a historical perspective on Life, in my opinion.)

"Yesterday a politician said something about homelessness, and a short story idea popped into my head." - Haha!! Ya, I start thinking about taxes, laws, legislation ... that's what I get when focusing on homelessness. It's about changing laws and those will come from ground-work: grass-root movements, knocking on doors, making phone calls, etc.

"More people are paying $10 for a self-published book on Amazon." - More people think Jeff Bezos needs more money: poor him. Haha!!

Alrighty, time to go put-on those winter tires. It's getting real out there lol

Cheers and thanks for the words!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Thank you very much, Devika! I hope you have a wonderful week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Aww, thank you, Chitrangada Sharan. The Mailbag will continue as long as I have the ability to write it. I appreciate you very much. Have a safe and wonderful week ahead.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Thank you very much, Pamela. Whether it be short stories, or articles like the ones you write, they all have value and they all require inspiration and imagination. Well done to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

My pleasure, Nell! They will be happy to have you in their group, I'm sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Mactavers, your last sentence is one of wisdom. We write because we love to write. It's the only true reason to continue. Our passion drives us.

Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

Thank you Manatita! You said it beautifully, my friend. Empathy and love can go a long way towards healing us all.

Blessings and love to you always, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

I appreciate that, Rosina! My best wishes to you for a great week ahead. Stay safe, my friend.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 07, 2020:


I enjoyed your article. I am glad I caught it this time.

I do fear that the comments are going to be a thing of the past, but hp says they understand the importance and will be bringing it back the first half of 2021. Time will tell.

It is interesting to hear your take on the publishing world.

I have often ventured on the self publishing idea but fear I would do better with someone else promoting my work.

So here I sit in stalemate as publishers say I must be published in alot of places before they take me on. I do have several published, but I guess I haven't reached that magic number yet.

As we grow older...yes, that's me too, we tend to be in a rush to finish things up.

I want to get things done like yesterday with no time to wait.

May you and your family feel the Christmas blessing this year. (Toby & Maggie too!)

Merry Christmas!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on December 07, 2020:

Hi Bill, you're welcome again. I was thinking along the line that the writers mailbag was not being publish regularly, though you're taken us along your time travel, an economic story that I enjoy much. Bill, I appreciate you. I appreciate your answering both MizB and Rodric's questims. I appreciate the mailbag as I always look forward to it each Monday of the week. Don't ever give up the "time trave" episode. I very much apprecited it likewise. Bill, have the best of the seasons!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

I love how you began this Mailbag, and in particular, how you ended it. Let's all be kind to one another and do all things with love. Those are wise and much-needed words to live by right now.

As to HP, I hope that the comments are reinstated soon and that it survives. It is so much fun to interact with people in this community. Enjoy the balance of your week, Bill.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 07, 2020:

Amen to your last paragraph. We do indeed need comforting words; there are too few of them out there.

I listen to the news and I turn it off as soon as possible, or I think, maybe some good news will come in a minute - sometimes it does, but rarely. So I don't watch the news, I sink into isolation and I have no idea what the wider world is doing. That comforts me as I'm safe in my own little corner - well, as safe as one can be at the moment. Do you think that's burying my head in the sand? Does that happen to you? I'm very tempted to find a place in the middle of nowhere and do my own thing but I think I might miss a few people! Any thoughts?

Quite a philosophical mailbag this week, bill. I trust you and yours are well and looking forward to Christmas in its intended spirit; I'm sure you are.

Looking forward to the next marvellous mailbag!


Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 07, 2020:

Excellent mailbag, Bill. I also find myself appreciating the small things as I get older and I do have a lot to be thankful for. I really hope that HP continues and flourishes, it would be a shame if it just faded away. It does look like they are working to restore the comments and hopefully that happens soon.

I really like the picture of the old barn. Is that close to where you live? Have a great week.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 07, 2020:

G'morning Mailbag!

Re: Not the End of the HP Community. The December 2 HubPages Weekly email, said: "We are aiming to reinstate comments on articles in the first half of 2021. We'll keep the community posted as we know how important this is to you. Samantha Cubbison, Editor/Community Manager." So be patient everyone!

Re: Rejection and Confidence. Reality check! Thanks for mentioning me to chime in.

Yes, you got that right. Hundreds of thousands of manuscripts are pitched to agents and publishers every year, and maybe--maybe--1% of them get picked up. And here's another stat I've heard. Maybe 1% of traditionally published books ever make it onto the shelves in bookstores.

Sales from self publishing ain't much better. With, by some conservative estimates, 1 million books are self published on Kindle every year, competition is growing exponentially for self published authors. Remember, the old books don't leave the market when new ones come along. But at least you have more control over your work.

The competition for traditional publishing deals is going to get even more challenging. As of late November, parent company of Penguin Random House is in the process of acquiring Simon & Schuster. So now the Big 5 trade publishers will be the Big 4. On top of that, I saw a WSJ article about how Barnes & Noble may be restructuring their store model. Proposed is that all books will be shelved with front covers facing out. That seems like a small deal, and it would appear to give offered books a fighting chance for attention. The bad news is that this reduces the number of books the store can shelve. More competition on every level.

Authors need to take their egos out of the publishing equation. If you are truly in it to make money, that is a completely different path than just being an author who wants to share his/her gifts with the world. BTW, I'm putting together a post on authors versus authorpreneurs. You'll be stunned at some of the numbers I'll share.

Keeping with the appreciation theme, I so appreciate that you've given us this forum to share and learn. Have a great week!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 07, 2020:

I love the tone of this one Bill. Full of gratefulness, and sharing, and love. Happy to see that you haven't given up on the Mailbag. Have a good week my friend.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on December 07, 2020:

Hi Bill,

Loved this entry as all the others. I so appreciate your mailbags. I have grown weary in the attempt to write. I am sure we all experience this. Writing for me has always been a ministry and cathartic experience. What I lack in finesse as an author, I hope I make up with a passion for sharing my heart. I write and then use software to edit and correct. This changes my flow, and I end up giving up or giving in to the lack of luster in my publication. I wish we could place our hearts and minds on the page in a way that it conveys. I loved the HP community. All the changes have confused me, though it does not take much to do that these days. I have a tough time navigating the site. Feeling a bit lost in corona like the rest of the world. I will get there in time. I appreciate all the connections we have made. It makes me sad to realize it could fade away. Hugs and blessing to you, always.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 07, 2020:

I appreciate the informative hubs you share here and a thank you matters and appreciation means a lot.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 07, 2020:

Hello Bill!

I agree with whatever you have said in your opening paragraph. The feeling of thankfulness, of gratitude, of appreciation becomes predominant, as we age. We start appreciating the little things of life, take things easy, do not worry unnecessarily, forgive more, forget the irrelevant things and so on.

All good questions and thanks for sharing the helpful answers.

As always, enjoyed the mailbag. Mondays can't be the same, without your mailbag.

Thank you and good day.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2020:

I think your first paragraph describs youth for many people, and I have much to appreciate too. It helps to appreciate what is, rather than focusing on all the negatives right now.

I think you have provided a lot of wise advice about writing and publishing Bill. I write more serious articles, but ideas on topics just come to me also. I never know what the next article will be until I get an inspiration. This is an excellent Mailbag today. Have a wonderful week!

Nell Rose from England on December 07, 2020:

Great advice as always Bill. And thanks for the info about the Writers Circle. How I missed that is anybody's guess!

mactavers on December 07, 2020:

Thanks for your wise comments on writing. So far, I have had 4 non-fiction books on Arizona topics published, and I self-published one short stories. The non-fiction AZ history books sold reasonably well, but I figure that when I counted my time & travel researching in the archives, I've probably made $.10 per hour. My fictional book of short stories that I self published didn't sell well. So, in conclusion, unless you are a celebrity, the only reason to write is because it's what you love.

manatita44 from london on December 07, 2020:

A most poetic and beautiful start!

A most poetic and beautiful end! (I wrote them deliberately and at different times)

The tone of this mailbag is one of appreciation and wisdom ... of Gratitude ... of remembering the gift of life and written in the true Spirit of an oncoming festive season --one meant to be of thankfulness, family, retrospection and good will.

Yes, people hurt. We are all humans and the act of remembering brings empathy. Let us reach out to whomever or whatever we hold most dear and share, when we can. Just adding a little. Lol. Love you, Bro.

Rosina S Khan on December 07, 2020:

Hi Bill, Wonderful mailbag with great questions and answers. Keep your mailbags flowing and I will be right there to catch each one every Monday! Happy Monday and a good start into the week.

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