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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #396

A New Chapter Begins in My Life

My wife and I just purchased our first travel trailer this past week, and it marks a significant step towards a new chapter in our lives. For the next few months, we will take the trailer out on weekends and get used to RV living. We have never done any RVing, so these short trips will be learning experiences, and they will also help us decide if RVing is something we really want to do for weeks at a time once my wife retires in December, 2022.

If all goes well, and I suspect it will, we will be documenting it all with YouTube videos and updates on our new website. I might even try TikTok and Instagram and a few other social media sites I know nothing about.

I will probably be writing just as much as I have for the past ten years on HP, but this new writing will be on RVing and on my own website. Having said that, I still have three novels I want to finish in the next few years. I promised myself those novels would be completed while I am still capable of churning out quality fiction, and I aim to keep that promise.

So, there you have an update on my life. I hope this finds you well. Let’s see what the Mailbag has in store for us today.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Scrapping a Story

From Ann: “How often have you completed a story, of whatever length, and completely scratched at least half of it when re-reading? Did that improve the writing or was it just a bad idea?! Because of that/those experiences, did your writing improve?”

Interesting question, Ann! I had to think back on this one. I think it’s only happened a couple of times where I have completely scrapped part of a story, or part of a novel. The most I’ve ever erased was maybe fifty pages, and I don’t really remember why I did that. Something must have been drastically wrong for me to say goodbye to that many words.

What happens more often than not is I will erase complete short story ideas, and I do that quite often. I will get an idea, type out an initial story title, and then save that on my desktop on the computer. That way it is right there, daily, to remind me to finish it. About once a month I will see one of those titles, think about it, realize it wasn’t nearly as wonderful as I initially thought, and toss it in the junkpile.

Does it improve my writing? I think it strengthens my trust in my own instincts. I’ve been doing this long enough to realize when something is just not working or will not work, so I listen to that little voice in my head, trust my gut, and toss away when needed.

Thanks for the question, my friend.

What You Need to Get Started

From Francis: “I’ve been putting this off long enough. I want to start my writing career, and I want to start freelance writing as well as novels. Where do I start? How do I start? What do I need to start? HELP! I can think myself to death if I allow myself to do so.”

Francis, I’m laughing out loud, so thanks for the laugh.

For a practical answer, let me say this: about all you need is a computer, the internet connection, a willingness to persevere, a tough coating of skin to handle the detractors and naysayers out there, and a decent grasp of the English language.

Scroll to Continue

I was watching a video on YouTube posted by a couple who has built quite a successful online empire for themselves in the RV world. They literally make close to two-million dollars per year with their videos about RVing and the merchandise they sell. And they said to all of those thinking about starting out in RVing that all they need is whatever they can afford at that time. If that’s a small tent trailer, then that’s what you start with. If you can afford something more lavish, like an enclosed, fiberglass 13-footer, great. The point is to just get started, and stop making excuses or stop waiting for the perfect set of circumstances.

That is what I say to you. Just get started. You can learn along the way. You can improve along the way. But that journey is never going to happen if you don’t just get started.

Happy travels to you!

There are scenes all around you

There are scenes all around you

About Scene Development

From Betsy: “I write a lot of short stories, and at times it seems, or it feels like, all of my scenes ‘sound the same,’ if that makes any sense. I feel like I’m painting the same scene after a while. Has that ever happened to you?”

Of course it has, Betsy, and I would venture to guess it has happened to most writers who have some serious mileage under them. What do I do? I go out into the public and I get unstuck and inspired. Seriously, why re-invent the wheel. Go sit in a coffee shop and observe. Take a walk around town and take notes of various scenes you see. Go to the Mall and get inspired. Go for a car ride and watch what is happening around you.

Then head back home and immediately, while it is all fresh in your mind, jot down notes, or write out a couple scenes that you saw during this exercise. You could, of course, also take notes in a notebook, or you could simply take pictures with your iPhone while you are out and about.

The only other thing to do, then, is to put your own unique spin on those scenes when writing them into a short story. Remember, always, that you are the eyes of the reader, so make sure your scene details are helpful, specific, and detailed. And you will also want the readers to know how the characters react to those scenes; to put that another way, how does the scene add to the story, and how does the scene affect the main characters?

Isn’t writing fun! I think it’s just a blast creating things like that. I hope you do too, Betsy, because writing should be kick-in-the-butt fun.

Ready for traveling

Ready for traveling

Only Four More to Go

Actually, that is a bit misleading and inaccurate. Way back when, I lost count of the Mailbags, and never did a #116. A friend of mine, Rodric, caught the error and let me know. So, in full disclosure, when we finally do #400, it will actually be #399, but I have no plans to correct that error. We will just pretend that #400 is actually #400. It will be our secret. LOL Or maybe I’ll make the real #400 a farewell of sorts, just a short bye-bye. Even though I will still be around HP after the Mailbag ends, really this feels like the end of my active participation on HP. Yes, I think that’s what I’ll do.

Confused yet?

If you have a question for the Mailbag, you can email it to me at, or find me on Facebook under Bill Holland. Hey, even carrier pigeon works for me if it works for you.

Have a great week and please, remember, to do all things with love.

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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