Trusting in My Journey as a Writer

I am not a natural storyteller. It took me my whole life to learn the elements of storytelling and to learn to write in a manner that pulls readers into my stories. After that, it took years to get published, because at the same time I was writing my first four novels, I had to learn the industry, such as what was required and who required it. I finally found a publisher who loved my books, and when the first two were released simultaneously, and a third six months later, I thought I stood poised for greatness. I was prepared to do what it would take to make a name for myself, but then, before that could ever happen, the gates of the book business burst open, and a horde of self-publishers surged into the arena. Not only did I have to compete with the established writers, I had to compete with millions of unknowns who were much better at marketing than I could ever hope to be.

Well, fate had other challenges in store for me. Five months after Second Wind Publishing released my third book, my life mate/soul mate/best friend/personal editor died, shattering me and my life beyond all recognition. One of the problems with losing the one person who connects you to the earth is that you no longer know who you are. For more than two years now, I’ve been tormented with the question of my place in the universe. With so many billions of people alive today, what is the point of being me?

I recently realized that the point of being me is simply to be me. I am the only me in the universe as far as I know, unique in a way only I can be. In the past few months, I have learned to trust in my life’s journey. I am trying to believe I am where I am supposed to be, being who I am supposed to be.

I now have five books released — the final novel my life mate helped me edit, and a journal of my grief — and I still have not reached the readership I’d hoped to find. I’ve been feeling as if I were adrift in an ocean of books, and I haven’t been able to find a reason to continue writing fiction. The books that apparently appeal to book buyers seem to have been written to capitalize on a trend — vampires, zombies, eroticism, bondage, symbols, serial killers — and my books are completely different from any of those. With so many millions of people publishing today, what is the point of my being one more unbestselling author?

If you’ve been reading my recent articles, you know how much this question about the meaning of writing has plagued me, and yesterday I found the answer. The point of writing is the same as the point of living — to be me. No one else can write the books I write. No one else sees the world in the same way as I do. Even better, most people who read my books love them. Such an incredible thing — to have written a book that even one person truly loves, and there are many who love my books. Would it be nice to make a living by writing, to be a bestselling author? Yes, of course, but in truth, it’s important for me to just write.

Now all I have to do is learn to trust in my journey as a writer. To believe I am where I am supposed to be. To write what only I can write. To be me.

15 Responses to “Trusting in My Journey as a Writer”

  1. shadowoperator Says:

    What you say about writing is very important, Pat: we all need to ask ourselves from time to time (particularly when we are despondent about how many or how few readers we have) just why we are writing. If we aren’t writing because we are simply motivated to do so over and above everything else, then we aren’t really making the best use of our minds and hearts. (Although I do wish I could persuade my brother to read even one of my novels, I guess it’s okay that some people somewhere through are reading them!)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I have a hunch that despondency at not being read is typical of writers, but we have no idea who is touched by our words. Occasionally I will hear from a someone who knows me through this blog, who was inspired by my words in some way, though I haven’t a clue who they are. It’s a strange and wonderful life, being a writer, no matter what our platform.

      (My brothers haven’t read my books, either, so I understand how you feel.)

  2. Wanda Hughes Says:

    Dear Pat,
    This is a realization that one can only come to in the right time for each one. You write the books I, as well as others, want to read and that is a truth you can’t avoid. You may not be on the NY Bestsellers list, yet. But that can’t, shouldn’t and doesn’t negate the value of your writing. You are the only person who can write the books you write.

    And only you can live the life you are living. Your value is intrinsic in your being you. I’m glad you have come to the realization that your purpose is to be you.

    I see much more contentment, nay, perhaps even a kind of happiness as you continue to fulfill your purpose.

    On a very personal level I really appreciate your presence in my life, however small it is. Your writing has brought me pleasure and made me think. True value indeed.

    Love ya dear.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Wanda. You always say such wonderful things and make me feel good. I appreciate your presence in my life — you add a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I’m glad my writing has brought you pleasure — you deserve only good things. I wish you had more of them.

      I am much happier, or at least, more at peace, than I have been in a long time. When I was young, questions of personal, intrinsic, and universal meaning plaqued me, but after I met J., the questions seemed to sort themselves out. After he died, the questions returned with a vengeance, but I’m finding answers that suit me, so I am not tormented so much by the questions. I can live with the idea that the purpose of life and writing is to be me, to be and to and write what only I can. It puts no pressure on me to be anything but myself, and gives me permission to write the books I want to write, regardless of any salability. It also allows me to continue concentrating on blogging rather than fiction. I’m not ready to immerse myself in fiction worlds quite yet, and I love the immediate connection with people I get from this blog. But one day, I promise you a book that will delight you to your very core.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’m sure there are plenty of writers who never became famous in their lifetimes but years later are debated and analyzed ad nauseum in literature classrooms and (in recent times, at least) in chat rooms. And if you ever find yourself feeling down about your readership, just know you have someone here who likes to read your blog, and start an intellectual conversation every now and then.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’ve never aspired to be one of those writers who were only known after their deaths. I mean, what’s the fun in that? I too enjoy having an intellectual conversation every now and then. I like seeing how other people think.

      There’s so much talk about the very small percentage of authors who make a lot of money selling their books, that it’s easy to forget the real purpose of writing — connection. Bloggng is a great way to connect with others. I once facetiously told my mate that maybe my books being published would give validity to me as a blogger, rather than blogging giving validity to my books. And that seems to be the way it’s working out.

      I appreciate your reading my blog, and I especially appreciate the conversations we’ve had.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        i appreciate them too. and i bet your mate is proud of you, and watching over you, wondering what literary wonder you’re going to come up with next.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          That’s a nice thought. Thank you.

          Writing is different from any other activity. You can reinvent yourself as a writer at any time. I can feel the reinvention going on inside now. Maybe there will be literary wonders for him to be proud of. I used to wonder why I was left behind, but I get glimpses now of the miles I have to go before I sleep.

  4. Emma McCoy Says:

    I believe that most people struggle with the same questions you’ve asked though from their own perspectives. What is my purpose? Why am I here? You have a unique view of the world shaped by the many experiences in your lifetime. Thank you for sharing your triumphs as well as your struggles.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s nice to be able to talk about these things here on this blog, and to put my thoughts into words. If I didn’t, they’d go round and round in my head until they used up all available space. It’s a special bonus that others read what I write. Thank you.

  5. joylene Says:

    I’m so glad you realized this, Pat. I went through a similar situation and it wasn’t until 2010 that I too realized I write books because that’s who I am. It’s not about fame or money, it’s about being true to yourself. The fame and money will come, just as the peace of mind will, just as the realization did. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      We seem to be on parallel journies, both in our lives and our writing lives. It’s good to have a companion along the way. Now it’s just a matter of trusting in the journey. (I trusted my grief journey, and it’s taking me where I’m supposed to go, so writing will be the same.)

  6. donnagalanti Says:

    Pat, you’ve had a long road and this simple belief can ground us again. It’s what I hold on to when I’m down and discouraged as a writer…to simply be me, and write what is “me”. I started writing books through grief over the death of my mom who grounded me in life, so I empathize with your grief passage too. You are an inspiration to others so hold on to that too!~

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