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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #394

Sweet Melancholy

It’s an odd thing, this shifting into a new phase of my HubPages history. HP has been such a large part of my life for the last ten years, and change is never easy. But, in truth, once HP made the decision to eliminate the comment section on articles, my heart just wasn’t in it from that moment forward.

HP has never been about the articles for me. It’s always been about the relationships, the community, and the interaction with people who became my friends. I have other outlets for my articles. I can simply publish them on my blog, or I can go to another site like Creative Exiles and publish them there. No, HP, for me, was synonymous with community. It was where my friends could be found. It was where the cool kids hung out. It was where the span between cultures was bridged.

But HP management sees it differently, and that is their choice. It’s their ball, and we can either play with it or choose not to do so.

Still, it is bittersweet, the source of sweet melancholy for me as we all adjust.

It is Mail Time!

The Mail Room!

The Mail Room!

An Anthology of the Mailbag?

From Mary: “Hi Bill, I have a question for next week's mailbag. With all the questions and answers you have compiled in your mailbag, are you going to form them into a book?”

Probably not, Mary, and the only reason I say that is because I’m running out of productive time in my life. I have three novels I want to finish, and a new website venture with my wife to start in 2022. I really can’t imagine sitting down, sifting through four-hundred Mailbags, choosing content for an anthology, and then formatting it and publishing it.

Thanks for the question, but I think I’ll pass on the opportunity.

My favorite topic: the Human Experience!

My favorite topic: the Human Experience!

Three Questions From Ann

From Ann:


“If, for whatever reason, you were only able to write one more story/article, what would it be? Another in your 'shadow' series, or the mailbag, your dogs, social comment....? I suppose I'm asking you what you love writing about the most.”

It’s hard to summarize on this question, Ann. I spent a couple days thinking about this question after receiving it from you. I suppose the fifty-cent summary would be this: I love writing about the human condition. Humans fascinate me. I love the various ways people go about their lives. I love the way various people react to various stimuli. I love watching people, and I love the emotions I see daily. We are such complicated creatures. There is nothing simple about us. Why does one person handle stress better than another? Why does one person react quickly to a harrowing situation while another gives up and becomes an instant victim? Why is one person an outstanding parent while another should never even attempt parenthood?

That’s what I love writing about. The genre isn’t that important to me, although I obviously favor fiction over nonfiction as proven by my novels. At heart, I’m a philosopher/observer, and I never get tired of writing about you and me.


When you go travelling, do you think you will come back with a new set of stories? They say travel broadens the mind and I think that's true but will it affect your outlook when writing?”

What a great question, Ann! I would hope it would affect my outlook when writing. Seriously, meeting new people in new regions of the country would have to affect me, wouldn’t it, provided I’m open to those influences. Will I come back with a new set of stories? I can absolutely guarantee I will have new stories in my head, but whether they see the light of day, or not, is another question. I already have three novels I need/want to finish, and I’m running out of productive writing years.

We will just have to wait and see, I suspect.

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“Who is your worst and your most valuable critic (not necessarily the same person)? Yourself, your public, one of your family...? Is criticism a valuable commodity? Do you take any notice?!”

By far, Ann, my worst critic is me. I am never totally satisfied with anything I write. That is the monster inside of me, always has been, and I suspect always will be. My most valuable critic? You are a good one. Another Hubber, Zulma, is an honest critic, as is MizB. I can trust those people mentioned not to dazzle me with praise just for the sake of praising me. I can trust when they tell me something isn’t quite right, or when they ask me why I chose to do this rather than that.

My family? That’s a funny one! Bev knows I write, she encourages me to write, she reads all of my articles, but she has only fully read one of my nine novels. I suspect she would if they were on Audible. As for the rest of my family, as they say in Brooklyn, forgetaboutit!

Do I take notice of criticism? Oh my God yes! Negative criticism, when nasty or harsh, still stings. Honest criticism, pointing out obvious flaws, is valuable.

Characers Imitating Real Life

From Greg: “Question - have you ever written a character into one of your novels and had someone ask you if it was them you were writing about?”

No, that hasn’t happened, Greg. Mind you, I have used many people in my life as inspiration for characters, but so far none of those people have figured it out, or else they simply have not read my books.

I did tell my wife she was a main character in two of my novels, and I told my best friend he was a main character in another of my novels, but that’s as close as I’ve come to what you are suggesting.

It’s probably just as well if a couple people in my life don’t figure it out, you know? LOL The people I have in mind, well, they are not painted in a positive way in a couple of my novels, but chances are excellent that they will not read my novels and even if they did, they would never suspect that those characters were actually them. They have a much better opinion of themselves than I have of them.

They have all been written about!

They have all been written about!

Sweet Melancholy or Not, Only Six Mailbags to Go

Over seven years I’ve been posting this Mailbag weekly. That blows me away, quite frankly. Not that I could publish that many articles because, well, I’m full of it, as my dad loved to say. No, it blows me away because all of you have supported this series, with your questions, week after week after week, and for that I am unbelievably grateful.

If you have a question for next week's Mailbag, email it to me at and I'll include it. And my apologies to Mr. Happy for not including your question in this Mailbag. I promise it will be in the next installment.

When the Mailbag is finally put to rest, I am going to ask a large favor of each of you. I hope I can count on you to grant an old man one request.

You people, my HubPages family, are the best! Thank you!

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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