Writing a Book Summary

Blogging is easy for me. It’s mostly a matter of letting my stream of consciousness flow through my finger tips onto the page. There’s not a lot of thinking, because either the thinking has been done or my thoughts are being processed as I write. The only time it’s hard is when my mind is blank — it’s hard to stream something that isn’t there. Often, though, I can start writing and an idea will show up that I can develop into a blog post, even if it’s only to say that my mind is blank.

Writing novels isn’t that difficult once I get started. It’s more a matter of sitting down and working out the puzzle and trying not to get bored by the necessary scenes. (The scenes that are necessary to the story, but that have been in my head so long it seems as if they’ve already been written.) What’s hard is getting started. To me, writing a novel is about finally getting the story out of my head, but if there is no story caroming around trying to get out, I have no real impetus to write.

Writing at someone else’s request is whole other situation. It feels too much like homework, and although I never minded homework when I was young, at least I don’t think I did, my mind now balks at having to do something by request.

This latest “something” isn’t onerous. It just feels like it because of the aforesaid balky mind. I’m supposed to be writing a summary of my soon-to-be-published book (my publisher is aiming for October 20!). Even though it’s been a while since I last worked on the book, I mostly remember it. (I’m looking forward to the day I completely forget so I can read it as if it’s new to me.) I just need to summarize it in a way that will entice everyone to read it. Because of course everyone will want to read the book, they just don’t know it yet. And it’s not as if I have to write a synopsis of the whole thing to get a publisher interested, because he already is interested and working on putting the book together. All I need is a short 300 word blurb and a longer 3000 word summary.

Shouldn’t be difficult, right? But apparently, I prefer to write about writing the blurb than to actually write it.

You’d think I would have been smart enough to have already written it, knowing the book was going to be published, but somehow, just like with homework, I’ve put it off until the last minute. (Actually, that’s not true. For the most part, I think I did homework right away so I wouldn’t have it hanging over me.) In this way, at least, I was much more disciplined as a child.

But I am thinking about the synopsis, so that’s something, right? Maybe if I think about it long enough, it will pretend to be a blog post and I can just let it flow through my fingers onto the page.

Then the real work starts: a bio. You’d think after almost 3,000 blog posts, many of them about my life, it would be easy to come up with something interesting to say in a bio, but nope. Total blank.

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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.

100 Days

There are ninety-eight days until the end of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do?

In yesterday’s blog about my twelve-year blog anniversary, I mentioned that several years ago I had made a commitment to post every day for the last 100 days of the year, and I suddenly felt as if I’d like to take up the challenge again. After all, I had already completed the first day! (Since I am getting a late start — the 100 last days began with September 23 — I will have to add the first day of the new year to make an even 100 days. Assuming I get that far. Assuming that decimal numbers are important.)

The first challenge helped me get back into writing, helped me get back into myself. Too often I am pulled in many directions, with no clear direction of what I want to do or be, so a challenge like this might be what I need to give me a bit of focus.

And challenge it will be. I have a hard time focusing my mind on any sort of writing right now. I am trying to put together a press release about my latest (and possibly my most important) book Grief: The Inside Story, but the words don’t seem to connect with me.

It’s possible this disconnect with words is due not so much to letting myself drift but falling once again into my old book-a-day reading habit. (After Jeff died, I couldn’t read because books either had a couple getting together, which made me cry, or had the couple not getting together, which made me cry, or had too many deaths, which made me cry. It was easier simply to stop reading. Compared to losing Jeff, giving up reading was easy, though it had always been a major part of my life.)

I recently read that reading and writing go hand in hand because reading is inhaling and writing is exhaling. (That’s how I always felt about reading, as if it were a type of breathing.) But now I suppose I need to try to exhale, though I’m not sure what I would be exhaling. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against my current desire to drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Yesterday, today, and the coming ninety-eight days are more for me, just for the discipline of writing. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, especially the past few months where I’ve been getting used to a new house, a new town, a new life, but it doesn’t really seem to accomplish much.

So, this is a start.

Perhaps.

***

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.

2017 Got the Last Laugh

2017 was a year of pain, surgery, healing, doctors, drugs, along with various other maladies and challenges that kept me unwell for more than seven months.

I thought I’d be going into 2018 strong and relatively healthy, but 2017 got the last laugh. Here it is, the final day of the year, and I am sick again, this time with an intestinal bug. So much fun!

And so my prediction in Getting a Head Start on New Years Resolutions came true. Before I even started the year, my resolutions have gone by the wayside. That list has now been downgraded to a “to do list.” (Which, to be honest, was all those resolutions were in the first place.)

Despite that, with this post, as unpleasant as it might be, I have fulfilled my fifty-day blog challenge.

Wishing us all a healthy 2018 and challenges that are as pleasant to fulfill as this challenge was.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Fifty Day Blog Challenge

Ever since I finished my two latest books a year ago (Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinshed, I haven’t done much writing. Not much blogging, either (though technically, blogging is writing, so I shouldn’t separate the two.). There’s always been an excuse. A shattered arm/wrist/elbow. A fuzzy mind from opioids. (I used to think I had an addictive personality, but I guess not — I was glad when I finally was able to handle the pain and stop taking pain pills.) And then there was the very hot summer. (The air conditioning in this room I am renting is minimal, and I was too hot to think. But then, I didn’t feel like thinking anyway since I seem to be in a drifting mode.)

Well, enough of the excuses, and more than enough of the parenthetical comments!

When I mentioned my non-writing to a friend, she said, “Well, write something.” Since I always try to do what people request (unless, of course, I am in a rebellious mood), here I am.

In 2011, I participated in a hundred day blog challenge: to post something every day on each of the last 100 days of the year. The time is long past to be able to duplicate that challenge, but coincidentally, I just discovered there are 50 blogging days until the end of 2017, and since I love even numbers, coincidences, and serendipity, I decided to try an abbreviated challenge.

And challenge it will be. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against the drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Today and the coming forty-nine days are more for me, just for the discipline of it. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, but it doesn’t really accomplish much, and before I leave my current place (the road — and an epic adventure — is calling to me), I would like to finish the book I started a decade ago, clear out some of the stuff in my storage unit that I haven’t been able to get rid of yet, become strong enough physically to go hiking again, and oh, so many things!

So, this is a start.

Perhaps.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Learning to be Open and Unafraid

A friend wrote me yesterday and told me how much she appreciated my openness in talking about my grief and other traumas and added that it was a learning experience for her. To tell the truth, it’s been a learning experience for me, as well. For decades, I’ve kept my private life private (secretive, some people say, though why they would think they have a right to my privacy, I don’t know), but things change. I changed.

I was more open when I was young. I remember writing long angst-ridden letters to friends when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but stopped abruptly when a friend found one of the letters I’d written to her years previously and read it to me on the phone, laughing the whole while. She thought I’d find it funny, but I didn’t see the humor, only the betrayal. I never wrote another such letter to anyone. Although I talked about my feelings and situations, I didn’t want anyone to have written proof of my follies. And yet, here I am.

computerWhen I first signed up for the internet seven years ago, I didn’t quite know what to do. I figured I’d pay for a year and then if I still hadn’t found a way to make use of the resource, I would disconnect. Within a mere four months, though, I’d entered a contest, made online friends, and discovered blogging. Blogging was my way of getting people interested in me as an author, so I wrote posts about writing, reading, trying to get published, and anything else loosely pertaining to my writing life.

Even though I was living through the trauma of a dying life mate/soul mate, I couldn’t write about my life or his illness. He was afraid people would think less of me if I mentioned his being sick, but even if I wanted to mention our situation, I wouldn’t have. His illness didn’t belong to me. I am intensely loyal and my loyalties were with him. Besides, I mostly took his ill health and our strange half-life for granted and didn’t have much to say about either. I can see now how numbed I was by his dying and the trauma of my life, but back then, I accepted the situation as simply the way things were. Since I was online only to try to promote myself as an author, I tried to be professional — I was disheartened that many people used online forums to whine, and I didn’t want to be another whiner.

After he died, well, none of that mattered. I no longer needed to be loyal to him (the way I figured it, if he didn’t want me talking about our life, he shouln’t have died) and I was so stunned by the way I felt that my feelings just burst out of me. I couldn’t believe the exorbitant pain of grief could be so unknown (unknown to me, anyway), and it seemed important to chronicle what I was feeling. Now talking about my emotional traumas has become a way of life. I am comfortable with writing about my feelings, though I am amazed (and so very grateful) that people don’t tell me to shut up and quit my bellyaching.

And if they did? Well, I’ve accepted that possibility as the price of learning to be open and unafraid online.

***

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.

Blogging is Writing, Too

I always hated the saying “A writer writes . . . always.” No one does anything “always” except maybe breathe. And anyway, the very fact of having written five books and getting them published makes me a writer, even if I write . . . whenever.

But it turns out the joke is on me. I do write always, or as nearly always as possible. I’m either writing an article for this blog, or trying to think of a topic, either planning what I am going to say when I do think of a topic, or experiencing things which I will later write about. I don’t know why I tend to think that “writing” means fiction writing, perhaps because fiction comes hard for me and blogging easy, but the truth is, blogging is writing, too.

On September 25, 2011, I accepted a challenge to blog for 100 days. (I found out about it two days late — the challenge was actually to blog the last 100 days of the year, and it started on the 23, but I figured I’d add the missing two days on the back end.) I hadn’t been writing much, just an occasional blog post, and I was drifting, not doing much of anything except struggling with an upsurge of grief (still don’t know why 18 months after a grievous death is so hard, but it’s part of the grief pattern). So much I had counted on had disappeared — my life mate/soul mate, our way of life, some of the friends I made after his death— that I felt as if I were disappearing too.

I thought writing every day would give me something to hang on to, and it must have worked, because after the challenge ended, I didn’t quit. I never actually made the decision to stick with daily blogging — I just did it — and to my surprise, I find myself less than a month away from completing an entire year of daily posts.

I’ve come a long way in the past 341 days, turned several corners, came to many realizations, but most of all, I found peace. Or rather, I made peace. I made peace with the death of my mate, with my place in the universe, and with my place in the world of books. Even without the daily blogging, I might have come to the same realizations at the same time, but writing gave focus to my thoughts, and daily writing gave focus to my life. I’d planned to stop the daily posts after my one-year anniversary, but now . . . who knows. I might keep going. (Though one person suggested — facetiously, I hope — that I should give my poor blog readers a break.)