In Worlds of Wonder, David Gerrold says, “As a human being, you make a difference. Simply by existing, simply by being in the room you make a difference. What kind of difference do you want to make as a writer?”
This is a time of flux for me, and I no longer know what difference I want to make as a writer or what I want to say.
The first book-length piece I wrote was a fictional autobiography (sort of). I had a lot of matters I needed to work through and thought it would be a good way to do it. The writing helped, as I’d hoped, but the book was so bad I don’t consider it one of my finished novels, but I do consider it my apprenticeship.
The first real novel I wrote because I wanted (needed) to make some money. Silly me! I didn’t know at the time how few people ever made a living off their books. I also wanted to talk about the Vietnam war, and get rid of a lot of misconceptions that had arisen about why it happened and what it was supposed to accomplish. Most of those parts ended up being deleted in the rewrites, and the book became more about mind control and less about Vietnam.
The second novel I wrote because of Albert Zuckerman’s book How to Write the Blockbuster Novel. I wanted to write a blockbuster novel and make a ton of money and to expose some of the experiments that had been perpetrated on humans. In many ways that book is my best work, but so far, it hasn’t reached anywhere near the readership I had hoped for.
The third novel I wrote because I read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and I wanted to write a mythic journey story. And debunk a lot of the Hollywood myths about the mafia. And make a lot of money.
The fourth novel I wrote to present a different way of looking at the world and to debunk UFO myths. And to make money, of course. This was actually the first book I conceived after I finished my apprenticeship. It just took me five years to get the whole thing worked out and to finish the massive amounts of research necessary.
My current novel — more of a work-in-pause than a work-in-progress — was supposed to be my declaration of independence from the dictates of the publishing industry and my efforts at making a living by writing. It was supposed to be a silly story, and when it started turning into something deeply metaphysical, I lost my way. And so it sits, waiting for me.
The thing I’ve always said to people via my books is: “Beware. Nothing is as it seems. You are being lied to, and have always been lied to,” but I’m not certain I want to continue with that theme. Don’t know where I am going with my writing. Can you get anywhere if you haven’t a clue?
I’ve never really had any interest in writing the great American novel (or the great global novel), but for some reason lately, I’ve been getting the feeling that I want to get so good at both storytelling and writing that I will not be ignored. I have a hunch I am at still at the beginning of my journey as a writer, though I have no idea where I will end up. I’m hoping I will be the hero in my own journey, transformed into a powerful writer who can make a difference, even in a small part to people who might someday read my books.
Meantime, I’m sticking with blogging. That’s part of my journey, too.
What about you? What difference do you want to make as a writer?
Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+