An Accidental New Year’s Resolution

UntitledtWhen I first got the internet in 2007, I embraced it as if it were a wonderful new friend. At the time, my mother was dying and my life mate/soul mate was sick. There was nothing I could do about either of those circumstances, and the internet gave me a place to escape from my real life.

The terrible times continued. My mother died, then three years later, my soul mate died, and one of the few ways I could escape from the grief was to spend time online. (Screaming also helped alleviate the grief, but being online was so much easier on my throat.) I moderated writing groups, connected to thousands of people, dived headfirst into blogging. I used a couple of my blogs to promote other authors because  . . . well, because the blogs were there and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Several unsettling incidents happened recently that made me rethink what I’m doing online. These incidents didn’t amount to much. A contretemps over an excerpt someone wanted me to post. The discovery that a terrible writer I know who writes awful books is making a fortune. A discussion about talent vs. persistence (most writers seem to believe that talent is more important, which disheartens me — are writers really so arrogant in their belief of their talent?). Just trivial things, but they got to me more than they should have, and it suddenly dawned on me that if I turned off my computer, these things don’t exist.

The truth is, except for this blog, I’m not having any fun online. I seem to have fallen into an alternate universe of self-published writers. I’m even getting known as a promoter of self-published writers, but I find this new world of publishing very discouraging. Many of the excerpts I post on my blog are not well written or are excerpts from books I’d never read if they were the last books left on this earth. And that’s saying a lot since once I read everything that fell into my hands. So why am I promoting such books? I no longer know.

It used to be that self-published writers were iconoclasts, following a dream at any cost. Now so many self-published writers are conformists, following a dream at no cost. Even worse, they are a militant lot, demanding regard for no apparent reason. I have become friends with numerous self-published writers in an online sort of way, and I know that many are good at the craft and strive to get better, but just as many self-publishers dash out a book in a month (sometimes even in a week) and expect to be taken seriously.

To be honest, I have no regard for most of the authors published by the big six, either, so this isn’t a self-published vs. traditional-published discussion. It’s about me. I am not self-published, though many people assume I am (guilt by association). Nor am I published by a major publishing company. Authors who were published by small independent presses used to called “indie authors” but self-publishers have adopted that name for themselves, so now there is no name for us.

In my case, it no longer matters what kind of author I am since I am not writing much fiction. Being around so much bad writing and so many self-aggrandizing writers has stifled any urge I might have to contribute words of my own.

So, to save my sanity, I’ve decided to escape from my online life. I’m going to keep up this blog, of course, but I’ll be cutting back on other online activities, especially those that involve promoting authors I don’t know and don’t like.

This resolution isn’t accidental — I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where I want to go with my online life. What’s accidental is the timing. What was supposed to be simply a resolution has accidentally become a New Years resolution.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense 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+

6 Responses to “An Accidental New Year’s Resolution”

  1. lvgaudet Says:

    I find it interesting that some know you as a promoter of self-published writers. If anything, I’ve always seen you show more of a push towards encouraging writers to go the indipendent publisher route. Maybe it’s just because with the ease and cost-free self publishing options the majority of writer’s have decided to go that route.

    It would be a shame if you lost the urge to write fiction permanently. I know I’ve enjoyed reading your books and it would be a loss to us all if there were no more.

    Maybe what you need is your own personal fire wall. A barrier between yourself and negative personalities. It’s too easy for online stranger-friends to rant things they would not do face to face to an invisible hoard of online stranger-friends, making the internet something of a pitfall where you can find both wonderful things and ones that drag you down. And instead of promoting any Nancy and Tom writer who jumps at every opportunity to push their name, reach out yourself only to those you think are worth promoting.

    I would not write a positive review on a book I thought was awful and neither should someone promote writing that leaves a foul taste in their mouth. It only serves to make it all seem pointless if there are no boundaries, no limits one won’t go below.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re absolutely right, and in fact you said it better than I did. I does seem pointless. I really do have to start setting boundaries or I will never have any desire to write another novel.

      I’ve already removed the invitation to post excerpts from my excerpt blog, and although I’m leaving up the interview invitation I won’t promote the offer. Too many people act as if my efforts are an entitlement and referring to what I do as a “service.” It’s not a service. It’s a favor.

      I always appreciate your take on things, and I especially appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment since I know your time is so limited.

  2. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I don’t know about other writers and whether or not we all are an arrogant lot. Maybe it does take some arrogance to win out in the end as well as talent. I think guts and sticking to what you are doing are also important. I don’t like to thimnk of myself as arrogant unless it will make getting the pot of gold at the end of my particular rainbow easier on the old foot wear.

    As for my own writing, I have issues I do my best to express there. I am following my own dream and walking my own ard road. It takes me at least a year to produce a book I am comfortable with/ Then it will take months of digging at it before my editors are happy. So I’m not a dash it out in a month artist. Maybe I’d get further if I was. Hmmm! Flood the world with books by Rod Marsden and one of them has got to stick! No! Noty a chance of me doing that! I take pride in my writing and I strive to make each book the best that it can be.
    I hope you do get your urge to write back.

    Well, you have to do right by you in the long run.

    Happy New Year!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Flooding the world with books seems to be the modus operandi of many successful self-publishers, but I’m like you — it takes me a year to write a book and another year to polish it.

      I hope you didn’t see yourself anywhere in this post, because you have never done anything to make my online experience onerous. I have always enjoyed your comments and commentary.

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