Saying “Yes” to Life, and to Steampunk

I’ve been invited to participate in another collaborative novel, similar to the Rubicon Ranch project, only instead of a thriller, this collaborative effort will be steampunk.

I don’t know anything about steampunk. Know even less about the Victorian era. And know less than less about steam-driven machinery. So, of course, I agreed to do the project.

I crave anything that is different from what I know — different tastes, different experiences, different challenges. Ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, it seems a waste (or a stagnation) to do what he and I always did. He might be moldering in the grave (or rather in a funerary urn) but it’s a disservice to both of us if I molder, too.

John Berryman wrote:

A voice calls, “Write, write!”
I say, “For whom shall I write.”
And the voice replies,
“For the dead whom thou didst love.

This quatrain could just as easily exhort, “Live, live for the dead whom thou didst love.”

Sometimes it feels as if this is still our life — his and mine — only I am here and he is . . . wherever. Perhaps I’m here to live for both of us. Or maybe, now I’m here to live just for me.

When we met, I was at my most spontaneous. Something about his being in the world made it seem as if life were full of possibilities, and I grabbed hold of life with both hands and ran with it. Years later, as he got sicker, as life took its toll on our finances, and the possibilities shrank, our lives became staid and planned to take his infirmities into consideration. He told me once he regretted that the constraints of our life destroyed my spontaneity, and he was sorry to be the cause of it.

It’s not something I like to face, but the last years, and especially the last months of his life were terrible for both of us. And, something I like to face even less is that his death set me free. The best way to honor my mate’s life and his great gift of freedom is to take back the thing he thought he stole from me, so I’ve been practicing spontaneity. Which means, saying yes to challenges. Saying yes to life. Saying yes to steampunk

So why steampunk? Why not? I’m a writer. I can fake it. I’ve also got the internet with all its research capabilities to help me. And it’s something I would never have considered writing. All good reasons.

Wikipedia defines steampunk as “a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is widely used — whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West”-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time — that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.”

In “How Do I Write A Steampunk Story?” Dru Pagliassotti says, “Steampunk fiction consists of two elements — the steam, or gaslamp aesthetic, iconography specific to the genre — and the punk, a critical ideology or political stance that satirizes, challenges, or subverts societal trends.”

Kat Sheridan, a friend who took a steampunk writing class wrote me, “Remember, steampunk is all about breaking the rules and throwing conventions out the window!”

Should be fun. I’ll let you know how it goes.

3 Responses to “Saying “Yes” to Life, and to Steampunk”

  1. Holly Bonville Says:

    Lots of luck! Looking forward to reading it. 🙂

  2. Trish Says:

    This sounds like so much fun! Keep us updated on how your research is going, if you read any good books by steampunk authors, and the progress on the manuscript!

    Sounds like your husband would be (is?) very happy you’re grabbing life with both hands again! i admire your honesty regarding the duality of the pain and freedom. Both are equally real, and your perspective sounds right-on. No guilt; just acceptance for what it is. Keeps the positive energy flowing, so that you truly CAN experience all the wonderful things Life brings you now!

    Congrats and good luck!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Trish, It’s hard to be honest about those terrible years — I’d just as soon not think of them — but there are so many women in my situation who are grappling with the duality of grief and freedom, that it’s important to tell the truth. Thank you for stopping by.


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