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.

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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?