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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #392

A Clarification

Happy New Year to you all!

Let’s hope 2022 is considerably better for those who were affected, negatively, by COVID. Let’s hope 2022 is a fantastic year for us all, filled with love and blessings.

I should probably clarify something before it slips my mind. I announced last week that my activity on HP would dramatically decrease in February. That is true, but it does not mean I am leaving HP. I will leave my account up and running. I am, after all, making money on this site, so I see no reason to delete my account. And I will, from time to time, drop in to read your articles and comment when possible.

I simply meant that I will not be nearly as active as I once was. You can’t get rid of me that easily. I probably won’t completely leave HP until I’m dead and then, to borrow from Charlton Heston, they will have to pry my computer away from my stiff, cold fingers.

I hope that clarifies matters. Let’s see what’s happening with this week’s questions.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Fiction or Nonfiction

From Mr. Happy: “I kinda do have a question too lolol: why do You think people are attracted to fiction more than non-fiction? I think this is true in relating to films too, not just writing. Most people I find, would quicker go see a movie than a documentary. Or, why are You attracted more to fiction than non-fiction since, it would be difficult to speak for others, unless You have looked into this before.”

I love the question, Mr. Happy, but I’m only qualified to answer as a regular guy and part-time writer. I certainly can’t speak for everyone, as you noted.

To me, fiction provides some escapism. It allows me to shut down the real world for those minutes, or hours, when I’m lost in a fictional world. And, as a writer, it allows me to have fun creating that fictional world.

I think, too, that fiction is an easier medium from which to tell a story, and at the core of my being, I am a storyteller. Even if I were to try and write a serious, nonfiction work, I would write it as a historical fiction, something along the lines of what Bruce Catton did with his Civil War Trilogy. That way I would still be telling a story, being creative while detailing nonfiction events.

I will be interested in reading the comments on this one. I’m curious what others think of this fiction vs nonfiction question.

Proof that I prefer writing fiction!

Proof that I prefer writing fiction!

Positive Rewards

From Ann: “What positives does your writing bring for you as a person and as an author, and which positive is the most important?”

Ann, thanks for the question. I think I’ve touched on the positives many times in the past, but not directly as an answer to that question.

Writing allows me to communicate with the outside world. It is this introvert’s preferred medium of reaching out and “touching” people. It gives me a voice in this vast world, and it allows me to build a legacy for when I’m gone.

It also allows me to fulfill a lifelong passion for storytelling. I love inventing new stories. I love making make-believe come to life. And I love that writing gives me the opportunity, through my characters, to share my viewpoint on life with so many others.

The most important of those, for me, is the communication. I have hundreds of writer friends from around the world, people I never would have known if not for writing. I really want to know people, but as an introvert it is not easy in any way other than writing.

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Observe Ideas

From Ann: “When you go out and about, how many times do you come back with a story - do have a notebook with you, and a camera? How does that ability to observe improve your writing and feed your imagination?”

I have to be totally honest here, Ann. I do not follow my advice for others. I rarely have my camera with me when I’m out and about, and I never have a notebook. So far, my mind is functioning pretty well, so I tend to remember things I have seen while I’m out living life. They are filed somewhere in my gray matter to be used at a later date when I need them.

It’s not like I go for a walk and come back with a complete story. It’s like I go for ten walks, and during each walk bits and pieces of a future story are gathered. The actual ideas for stories can come from a variety of sources i.e. songs, movies, stories on the news. Once I have an idea for a story, then I draw upon all of those walks when I gathered information about characters or scenes.

Does that make sense?

As for your second question, I can’t imagine writing fiction without the ability to observe. A good writer sees fine details in life, and fine details help to set a scene in writing. As a writer, I am the eyes of my readers. I must be able to create a scene which is so vivid that anyone reading my words will see it perfectly. I think that can only come from observation.

Add to that my belief that writing must be an emotional exercise. I must touch the emotions of my readers on a very human level in order for my writing to be good. I must not only create a scene, but I must make my characters so real, and relate their emotions so well, that my readers will be touched on a very real, emotional level.

I hope that answered your questions.

A chapter in a future book?

A chapter in a future book?

Recommend Hp?

From Greg: “As I’ve said in other venues, I hate to see you go, but I totally get it. Time triage and all that. In any case, the thing I wonder is this: if a noob writer walked up to you on the street and asked you what you think about them joining HP as a burgeoning writer, what would you tell them.”

I would tell them, Greg, without hesitation, to most definitely join HP, but I say that with an asterisk involved. If their purpose is to make money, my advice would be to not bother. They can make a lot more money freelancing. If they simply want a site where they can display their writing, on the web, and where they can rub shoulders with other writers, then yes, you bet, join HP.

I credit HP, and the fine writers I have known over the years, for providing me with a platform upon which to write, and for encouraging me to keep writing. If not for HP, I would have never continued to write eleven years ago, and that is a fact. HP is where I gained confidence. HP is where I learned my craft. And HP is where I met some incredibly talented writers and exceptional people.

Nine novels, three nonfiction books, over two-thousand articles, most likely none of those would have been written without HP as my guiding star.

I’m Excited for 2022

I just have a good feeling about 2022. I really do. I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna, but for some reason I think the worst is behind us with this COVID thing. Yes, there will be challenges in 2022, but we are all made of strong stuff, and we will make it through.

Thanks for stopping by to give your support. If you have a question for the Mailbag, email it to me at, or find me on Facebook, Bill Holland, and leave your question there.

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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