Daily Blogging

I’m starting to rethink this whole blogging thing, especially daily blogging, and that’s not a bad thing. Next week will be the fifteenth anniversary of when I started this blog. I’d read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so even though I had no idea what a blog was, wasn’t yet published, had nothing to say, I jumped right in. I didn’t blog every day at the beginning, though during the years, I had several stretches where I did blog every day. Out of the 5,480 days from the beginning until today, I’ve blogged 3,565 times.

I started out writing about writing and books, then after Jeff died, I let my grief spill over onto this blog. When I set out on my 12,500 mile, 5-month cross-country trip, the focus of my blog changed again. And then it changed again when I became a houseowner with a yard to landscape.

Now? I’m still involved with gardening, but I don’t want to turn this into a gardening blog. Nor am I especially interesting in continuing to chronicle my daily life, my ups and downs, my moods, my periodic loneliness, and my infrequent bouts of missing Jeff. I don’t think it’s healthy or smart to put so much of myself out there. It was one thing when I was frantic with grief and needed an outlet, but I certainly don’t need an outlet when I am merely feeling melancholy or even just blah. Nor do I want to put emphasis on such times by writing about them.

Even worse than writing about those moods is trying to put a good slant on them. Sometimes it’s important to just be. Don’t name what the feeling is. Don’t write about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t try to be grateful or see the bright side. Just be.

I’ll probably continue daily blogging for a while longer because it’s the only writing I do, and it is a good discipline, but to be honest, it would be just as good a discipline if I forgot blogging and started a new book. (Not that I have any plans to write another book, I’m just giving an example.)

Also, after my current streak of 1,089 days of daily blogging, not blogging every day is too big a decision to make lightly. Or maybe it isn’t a big decision — all I’d have to do is skip a few days and see what happens.

The world wouldn’t come to an end, that I know.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Things I Don’t Want to Write About

I’m sitting here mentally sifting through possible blog topics to expound on for today’s posts, but there’s so much I don’t want to write about, I’ve already written about, or don’t know enough to write about and don’t care to delve deeper into the matter.

I don’t want to write about is the advertisement that appears on top of the page when I have opened a document in Word. I bought the program, so I shouldn’t have to deal with further encroachments from Microsoft, but as discreet as the ad is, it still appears and there’s nothing much I can do about it. Well, I can click on the X to remove it, but it appears again the next time I open Word. So, there’s no real point in talking about something I have no control over.

I also don’t want to write about the “nothings” that are exchanged with a spouse. I had lunch with a friend yesterday (she brought a picnic to my house, which was a real treat) and we got to talking about all the nothings we say to a spouse in passing. Her example was walking by her husband when he was watching the news, catching what someone was saying, and commenting, “Oh, she’s such a liar,” as she passed on by. These nothings aren’t anything you can really call and talk to a friend about when you live alone because then the nothings become a something. You’d have to explain the situation, explain why you think the person is a liar, explain why you’re telling your friend, and a passing comment becomes a huge discussion that quickly gets out of control. It’s an interesting topic, these nothings, but I’ve already written about it, already written about talking to the photo of Jeff, just asides — the nothings — as I make the bed when I get up in the morning or unmake it when I get ready for bed at night.

I still don’t want to write about The Bob. Despite everyone thinking they know what is going on because of whatever “research” they have done, so often the research is at odds with what people experience. I know people who got the jab and then died of The Bob, but that sort of thing is shoved under the carpet because it doesn’t fit the narrative. I suppose The Bob has been around long enough that the truth might be out there somewhere, but this is an example of something I don’t care to delve deeper into. Nor does it matter. Whatever truth I would find (assuming there is such a thing) wouldn’t change anything, and since it wouldn’t make any difference, I just let it go.

Something else I really don’t want to write about, at least not in a whole post, are all the death dates in my head. Or that were in my head. A couple of blog readers are coming up on the anniversary of their spouse’s deaths, and I remember the dates, but soon those dates will be gone from my memory, which is good. Otherwise, practically every single day I’d be reminded of someone who lost a child or a spouse, and it’s too much for one person to handle. It’s enough for me to remember my own dates (Jeff, parents, brothers) without heaping other people’s sorrow on top of my own. Though, to be honest, I do remember everyone I’ve spoken or written to about their grief over the death of their loved one, just not the exact day of their loss.

Well, what do you know! It turns out that I ended up writing about all the things I didn’t want to write about after all. Just goes to show . . . hmm. I don’t know what it shows other than that I have something to post for today’s blog.

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Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Lost in Time

“Describe one thing you did today. And tell us why you think we should know about it.”

I don’t know where I got that suggestion from — to describe one thing and explain why people should know about. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably got the idea from a book I read, jotted it down, and promptly forgot it. Today, I was trolling around in my notes to find a blog topic, and there it was.

I suppose I never followed through on this suggestion for a blog topic because I always follow through. Wow, that’s confusing! I mean I never specifically set out to follow through and describe one thing I did in response to this particular suggestion. Despite that, it does seem to be the current theme of this blog: to find one thing out of an otherwise eventless day to remark upon. I’m not sure if anyone but me needs to know about anything that happens in my life, but I do think it’s important for me to make note of at least one event or sight or thought every day, otherwise the days tend to pass unnoticed and unwitnessed. And I don’t want to be one of those people who, at the end of their life, look around and wonder where it all went. I’m sure I’ll do that anyway, because it does seem to be something we all think about as the number of our days shrink.

Still, here I am scrambling around in my mind trying to think of one particular thing I did today that I — or anyone — should know about.

I read, I dug, I watered my plants, I took a photo of my ice plant (although it’s pink, supposedly it’s called an ice plant because it shimmers as if icy), and because this is forecast to be the last searingly hot day of the year, I made a point to enjoy the heat.

The most noteworthy thing about the day, though, was how lost in time I felt. I had to keep checking my phone to see what day it was. (Checking a calendar doesn’t help, because if you don’t know what day it is, you won’t be able to tell what day it is.) Not that the day of the week mattered except to make sure it isn’t a work day, but for some reason, the whole concept of time and days of the week confused me today.

I’m sure the confusion is more of a reaction to three days off with no one to talk to rather than age-related discombobulation. (Surely, I talked to someone during these days, but except for a few brief words with a neighbor, I don’t think I did. Weird.) It will be interesting for me to see my reaction to time when my job comes to an end, especially if I immerse myself in writing another book. Then I really will have to make note of something each day to separate one day from another.

But that’s in the future. Today is . . . today. Monday. And despite the periodic confusion about time, it was a good day. And that’s important to know.

What about you? What did you do today, and why should we know about it?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Day in the Life of a Gardener

I’ve never particularly liked a-day-in-the-life-of-whatever blogs, either reading or writing them, but it’s finally dawning on me that’s what I do. I started out blogging about a day in the life of a writer, then went on to write about a day in the life of a griever. Later I blogged about a day in the life of a dancer, hiker, traveler, new homeowner.

And now, apparently, I am writing day-in-the-life-of-a-gardener blogs. Although I do things with my days other than garden, I can’t write about my job as a caregiver, because those hours belong to the client. Although I occasionally slip in a blog about the myriad books I’m reading, for the most part, when I close a book, that’s the end of it for me. I also spend way more time than might be good for me on a hidden object game, but it’s not interesting to talk about except perhaps to mention that I con myself into believing that the game is exercising my brain. (I tend to think it’s more ruinous for my eyes than good for my brain, but that’s what a con is — making one believe something that might not be true.)

So that leaves . . . gardening.

With that lead up, I’m sure you can guess what today’s blog is about. Yes, you guessed correctly — a day in the life of a gardener.

It’s not really that exciting a day, to be honest. The night never cooled off much, so it was already hot at daybreak, and the rising sun only added more heat to the day. Even though I was out early, I didn’t have much energy to do anything very arduous, so I watered my plants and then harvested the larkspur seeds that are ready. They are tiny things that look like poppy seeds, but luckily, they grow in a small pod that’s easy to get to. A lot of the seeds will fall wherever they will, but those I harvest will be strewn in strategic places in my yard next fall. The photo, of course, is the way the plants looked before they went to seed. It’s possible that after the seeds fall, I’ll have resurgence of flowers later in the summer.

Despite the ever-rising heat, I still managed to drag myself around the yard to take photos of the newest developments:

A white hollyhock next to the pink.

The latest blooms on the dahlia.

A few bachelor buttons that volunteered to grow in my yard.

And what might be the last cactus flower of the season.

I’m also starting to make a list of things that will need to be done in the fall besides plant the larkspur seeds, such as replant the New England aster. I notice there are several plants now where there once was but a single plant, and I’d like to spread them out. The photo is from last year. Because they are a fall-blooming flower, I won’t see any blossoms for a few more months.

It amazes me that I am starting to think of myself as a gardener. I’m really just a dilettante still, but with practice, I will become more expert. And then there will be more and prettier photos for my day-in-the-life-of-a gardener blogs.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

My Take on the World

People who have blogs generally stick to one topic in order to develop a strong readership. I started out that way, concentrating on books and writing and the various aspects of promotion, but after Jeff died, my focus changed to grief. I didn’t really have a choice if I wanted to continue blogging since grief became my life. Besides, I was so shocked by what I was feeling, shocked that I didn’t even know it was possible to feel that way, shocked by the insensitivity so many people showed toward grief, that I felt compelled to tell the truth. Then later, as my grief started to wane, I wrote about my travels. Now, I write about . . . whatever. The topics range from grief to home ownership to gardening to books to aging.

The problem with writing a blog with such a wide range of topics is that every topic has its followers and every topic has its detractors. For example, those who wish me to focus on grief aren’t really interested in my ruminations on other matters. Some people think I should write more about aging since aging, like grief, is rather a taboo topic in our eternal-youth oriented society. (There’s something almost embarrassing about growing old, as if its our fault that we don’t remain young.) Other people, of course, think I talk too much about growing old.

I suppose it would be nice to have a single topic, and just post once a week on that particular topic, but I’ve done grief. I don’t really have much more to say about it. And I’ve done traveling as a topic, and now I’m pretty much done with traveling itself since I spent my traveling money on my house. Although I sometimes mention the books I’m reading, I don’t want to have a book blog. Writing reviews and critiques seems so much like writing book reports for school, and I never much liked doing that. I read, I think while I’m reading, I finish the book, and immediately start another. What else is there to say?

I really don’t want to talk about age, though it is a focus right now since I’m trying to age-proof my yard. And I can feel changes in myself — not just physically and mentally, but how I view the world, other people, and myself. So it’s hard not to let those things filter into my writing.

Basically, I really only know one subject intimately — me. And that’s what this blog has always been about — my take on the world around me and within me.

Is there a point to this particular piece? Probably not. It is fair warning, though, that the topics I write about will continue jumping all over the place. You don’t need me to tell you to feel free to skip any post that’s not to your liking since I’m sure you do it anyway. But I do need to say (it can’t be said enough!) that I appreciate your stopping by to read any of the things I write.

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What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Nothing Important to Say

It seems odd to me that during the four years I blogged every day, I seldom found myself with nothing to say, but now that I blog only when circumstances allow, I have a hard time finding anything to say.

I suppose when one is involved in the discipline of daily blogging, it’s not the words that count so much as the discipline, so I felt free to expound on any topic, no matter how trivial or inane, but now I feel I should have something important to say.

And I don’t.

I could, of course, write about the silly book I read today by a brand-name author, where every character used “proverbial” clichés:

Capture the provesmileyrbial brass ring
Out like the proverbial light
Bite the proverbial bullet
Kick the proverbial bucket
Shining like the proverbial beacon
Deer in the proverbial headlights.

If only one character had used the word “proverbial” to preface every cliché-ridden speech, then I could chalk it up to a character flaw. But when all the characters proverbialized, then it was obviously author laziness. Prefacing a cliché with ‘proverbial” has been used so often it has become a cliché in itself. Even worse, it says that the writer is too lazy to come up with something original, but since she coyly admits she’s using a cliché, it’s okay. But it’s not okay, even if you are a multi-million dollar author.

Or I could write (again) how strange it’s been without my car, which is still being prettified. (He says I almost waited to long to have the body work done, but how was I to know the thing would still be running after 43 years?) I’ve been without my car for so long, it will seem even stranger when I finally get it back. But there’s really nothing else to say about the matter. The car will be done when it’s done, and then I might find something to say. “Hooray,” if nothing else.

I could write about all my recent insights. But . . . um . . . um . . . I can’t think of any.

I certainly don’t want to write about my loneliness. I’ve looked forward to being by myself this weekend with nothing to do, but along with the wonderful aloneness came the not-so-wonderful loneliness. I don’t want to seem as if I am feeling sorry for myself (even if I am) because I only have things to be grateful for. I’m grateful I have a lovely place to stay, even if only for a few more days. I’m grateful I have more than enough to eat. I’m grateful I have dance classes and feet to dance with. I’m grateful I have no debilitating illnesses or painful ailments. I’m grateful I have friends who take pity on my unvehicled state and give me rides.

Most especially, if you’ve read this far, I’m grateful for your indulgence. Maybe tomorrow I’ll think of something important to say.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Finding Something to Blog About Every Single Day

Today I celebrate my 1010th consecutive blog post. (I’ve published a total 1,629 posts, but the first 519 were before I started daily blogging.)

When a friend expressed amazement that I’m able to blog so much, I explained that it’s easier to blog if you write every day or at least on a regularly scheduled basis rather than doing it whenever you find something to say. If you blog sporadically, you feel as if your articles need to be important, so you don’t write. If you blog regularly, you relate a significant detail of your day, make your articles important by relating them to you, or find the youseetimmy in your topic.

(In the movie Speechless, Michael Keeton tells rival speechwriter Geena Davis that her speeches lack a youseetimmy. He explained that at the end of every episode of Lassie, Timmy’s father sat him down and explained the lesson of the tale, “You see, Timmy . . .)

Somedays, onumbersf course, it’s hard for me to find a topic — no event of the day and no thought frittering around in my head seems worth focusing on, so I just write something, anything in the hopes of stumbling upon an interesting idea. I fail often, of course, in the interest department, but sometimes what I think is uninteresting captures the attention of the Google gods and I get a lot of views. Since apparently I have no idea what others will find appealing, by blogging every day, I increase my chances of saying something profound or maybe even popular.

Although blog experts stress the necessity for sticking to a single focus for a blog, I’ve not been able to do that since my foci have changed over the years. At first I wrote about finding a publisher, then I wrote about finding readers. For a while I wrote about writing but I quickly gave that up when I realized how pathetic it was for a neophyte author to be giving tips on how to write. Too many writers who haven’t a clue what they are doing tend to parcel out advice as if they were dealing out doughnuts. For example, one self-published author explained how to write a grieving character, and proceeded to show the character going through all the so-called stages of grief in one brief bit of dialogue. Not only was this person dispensing erroneous information about writing, the person was also dispensing erroneous information about grief. Eek. I’m not a neophyte author any more, but still, the idea of publishing writing tips seems pathetic. The only people who would be interested in such posts are other writers, and they are busy publishing their own writing tips.

Finally, I started writing about me — my grief, my life, my dreams, my plans, my activities — so now the focus of this blog is me. You don’t get a narrower focus than that! I mean, out of the 7,237,175,306 people in the world as of today, there is only one of me.

On the days when I have nothing to say or no inclination to say what I do have to say, discipline keeps me going. I’ve been blogging every day without fail for almost three years — 1010 days to be exact. Not to blog would be a significant disruption of the pattern of my days, and hence would give me something to blog about. Ironic, that.

Still, there will come a time when I forget to blog because my mind is elsewhere or a time when I cannot blog because my body is elsewhere.

Until then, here I am — finding something to blog about every single day.

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Something Fun

Yesterday a fellow author said her muse had deserted her, and she asked for suggestions as to what she could post for her blog. I sent her this list of possible topics:

  1. Something fun — a favorite photo, a special recipe, a secret (and impossible) dream.
  2. Something that makes you smile, that comforts you, that makes you want to dance.
  3. How writing changed your life or how it made no difference at all.
  4. Your muse. Who or what is it normally? Maybe post a photo of your muse. Or write a letter to your muse begging him/her to come back.
  5. The one letter you wish you’d never written, the one letter you didn’t write but wish you had.
  6. Something you should have thrown away a long time ago, but can’t part with.
  7. Your wildest non-erotic fantasy.

She didn’t use any of my suggestions, but ironically, my own muse has deserted my today. Well, not really — I don’t have a muse, but I am sitting here with such a blank mind that a ready list of blog topics is nice to have.

So, something fun . . .

One day when I was out walking in the desert, I saw this television sitting right there on the path as if posed for a photograph, so I took the picture, then I pasted the photo itself onto the television screen because the idea amused me. Hope it amuses you, too.

036 copyb

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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+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Do Blogs Need to Have a Single Topic?

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Most articles about blogging mention that you need to pick a topic for your blog and all your posts need to center on that topic. Is this really necessary? I suppose if you are a literary agent who sets himself up as an interpreter of the publication industry (explaining what one needs to do get published, for example), you’d need to stick to your topic, otherwise you’d lose your readers. Or if you are a marketing coach who is trolling for clients, it would be a good idea to stick to the topic at hand. But what about the rest of us? Specifically, what about us authors? Is it necessary for us to stick to a single topic? And if so, what should that topic be?

I have two fairly well-received blogs that are topic-oriented — Book Marketing Floozy, which is an indexed blog of book marketing tips and hints written by various authors, and Pat Bertram Introduces . . ., which is a blog for interviews with authors and their characters.  (Ahem! You know this because, of course, you have already submitted an interview, right?! If you haven’t yet submitted your interview, you can find the instructions and questions here: Author Questionnaire. I’ll be waiting for it!!)

I also have a third blog that isn’t as highly rated as those two, but it is rated (if an Alexa rating of 21,000,000 passes for a rating.) That third blog, Dragon My Feet, went through several metamorphoses from a blog to talk about all the things I did while procrastinating from writing (which I never used because when I was procrastinating from writing, I wasn’t even writing blog posts) to a blog highlighting excerpts from books as part of my ongoing effort to promote others while I learn to promote myself. You can find submission requirements for that blog here: Let me post your excerpt!

Which brings me to the blog at hand, the one you are reading, the point of the discussion. This blog started out as a place to talk about my efforts to get published, my efforts to get noticed once I was published, and what I learned along the way. I’d talk about reading and writing, and over the years I ended up with some pretty impressive views on some of my articles about writing.  “Describing a Winter Scene,” for example, has almost reached 10,000 views for that article alone, and it spawned a couple of other posts with good ratings: “Describing a Winter Scene — Again” and “Describing a Winter Scene — Again. And Yet Again.” And all of those winter scene articles descended from the grandmommy of them all: “Describing a Scene in an Interesting Way.” But continuing to write such articles would get boring after a while, both for me and my poor readers, most of whom know more about writing than I do!

Before boredom set in, Death intervened. Not my death, of course, but it was a significant event in my life nontheless, and so I started writing about grieving. Partly, I couldn’t think of anything else but my sorrow, and partly I got so furious at novelists who didn’t seem to understand the first thing about grief that I wanted to set the record straight. Well, I accomplished that to a certain extent, and now I have a book about my grief that will be published next year. So, in a way, all that talk about grief was still within the parameters of this blog — all part of writing.

But now I’m coming out of the worst of the fog. I’ve said most of what I wanted to say about grief and most of what I wanted to say about writing (I mean, how many articles about describing winter can one person write?) and now I’m at a crossroads. I’ve been talking about the various things I’ve been doing to put my life back together, such as “Halt and I’ll Shoot! (Adventures With Firearms)” and “Proving to Myself That I’m Real,” but eventually I’ll move beyond that, and then what? I’ll have to decide on a topic for this blog. Or do I? Is “life, writing, and the writing life” a specific enough topic? Is it better for an author to write about whatever catches his or her interest so readers (hypothetical though they may be) can better get to know you? Is it enough simply to blog?