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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #398

A Trip Back to the Beginning

I recently scrolled through my list of articles until I found the very first one I wrote.

What a pile of junk that one was. It is laughable today, reading it, but back then, ten years ago, it was serious business and I was nervous as all hell. I was terrified to be judged by other writers who obviously had more talent than me.

I remember thinking “I’ll just post this one, make Bev happy and stop her from nagging me, and then I can go back to my normal life.”

1,600 articles later, I think it’s safe to say I found something in HubPages that I liked, and most likely I found something that I needed.

HP has been good for me. It has allowed me to have a voice in this large, scary world. It has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life, and it has given me many, many friendships which I cherish.

I believe my first comment was by a woman named Diane Grant. She most likely has no idea how important her comment was. It was the food a starving man needed to keep on with the writing that he loved.

And that is why commenting is so important to me, and why HP’s decision to eliminate comments stung me so badly. Without comments, HP is not the same for this writer.

Let’s do this mail thing. Two more Mondays to go, my friends, and then we’ll put this series to bed.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

The Will to Go On

From Ann: “Have you ever felt like giving up writing if you didn't reach your own high standards (unlikely for you to do so, but just wondered!)? Or, to put it another way, what would you advise a reticent writer to do in order to become confident in his/her abilities?”

Truthfully, Ann, no, I have never considered giving up writing, and I know I will never reach my high standards. I may not be fine with that certainty, that I will fall short of my goals, but I have found peace in that realization. No, Ann, I love writing too much to give it up. Even now, as I prepare to turn the page and move on to other interests beyond HP, those interests still include writing.

Every week I spend some time writing articles for our new website, which I will be unveiling in two weeks. Every week I work a little bit on three novels which need to be completed. And even this morning, a half-hour out of bed, I realized I had not done a ‘Travels With Maggie’ article in a long time, so I started one of those. Quite frankly, I really expect to be writing until the day my fingers will not skim over the keyboard any longer.

What would I advise a reticent writer? The only way to gain confidence is to dive in and do it. There are good people in the writing community. There are supportive people. If you have a passion for writing, you need to feed that passion, and you need to push the gremlins out of your mind and, as Nike is fond of saying, Just Do It! And I give that same advice to anyone who is afraid to try anything new, from applying for a new job to going back to school at forty . . . Just Do It! What’s the worst thing that can happen? You fail??? My God, we all fail, regularly, and we all somehow manage to survive.

Taking a new path other than HP

Taking a new path other than HP

What Would I Change About Hp

From Scott: “Okay, after all of your years on HP, after all of the articles and stories and comments, tell us what you would change about HubPages if you were running the company?”

I would hire me as the Community Outreach person. LOL I am reminded of a favorite line from the movie ‘A Few Good Men.’ At HP, there is a failure to communicate. Major changes have been made, changes which were not communicated to the writers. The one thing that a major percentage of the writers loved, comments, was taken away with no reason.

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Yes, it is their business, but their business is only successful because writers feed the beast with articles and stories. Those articles and stories generate income for HP, so the least they could do, from a management point of view, is give the writers a logical reason for their actions.

I can only surmise that HP management does not respect the writers enough to be honest with them, and I will not be treated with a lack of respect . . . by anyone!

How Do You Just Stop Writing?

From Mr. Happy: “I know the weekly mail-bag is coming to an end but here's a question: how can a writer stop writing?”

Mr. Happy, if a writer truly has a passion for writing, as I do, then the answer to that question is THEY CAN’T STOP WRITING! I won’t stop, simply because I am greatly curtailing my writing on HP. I will probably be writing more once I leave than I ever did for HP, but I’ll be doing it on my own website without the constraints of rules made by some faceless entity. Call it HOLLAND UNCHAINED, starting in March, on our new website.

No, it seems to me, if a writer is passionate about writing, as I am, if writing feeds their soul and gives them pleasure, there is no way they can stop writing. This junkie needs his daily fix, it’s as simple as that.

My thoughts on negative comment

My thoughts on negative comment

Negative Comments

From Marianna: “How do you handle negative comments? They sting, yes? They really sting at times. How can they not affect us?”

Yes, Marianna, they do sting, but for me it’s a numbers game. I have received thousands of comments in ten years, but only a handful of truly nasty comments. I have learned to keep a healthy perspective about it all. I simply cannot please everyone, and it’s silly to believe I can.

Gosh, maybe seven years ago, I wrote a series of articles about child abuse on a Native American reservation in North Dakota, and the lack of leadership from tribal leaders. I literally received death threats in emails about that one, and you better believe I took a moment to contemplate the threats of death. But I’m sure any serious journalist receives threats from time to time, and they manage to get up each morning, put on their Big Boy pants, and keep writing.

Memories Flooding In

The second comment I received was from Rebecca. It’s funny the things you can remember from long ago, but then that’s how important those comments were to me. I needed the recognition and I needed the confirmation, and those early comments gave me both until I could stand on my own.

The second or third article I wrote was “A Letter To My Birth Mother Who I Never Knew,” and the floodgates opened after that article to the tune of over 16,000 comments.

I had arrived as a writer, and that journey continues today, ten years later, eight novels, six novellas, five nonfiction books, 1,600 HP articles, and I’ve loved every minute of it thanks to all of you.

Be well and be happy! Do all things with love, and I’ll see you next Monday.

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers spread their wings and fly.”

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