Creating a Story

When I first moved here and started having work done on the house as well as working around the place myself, I kept finding odd things, such as a deep pit under the enclosed back porch, a bloody shirt that had been buried, bone fragments. Back then, I considered writing a “Pat as protagonist” mystery using all these various oddities, but at the time, I had no interest in writing. Now that I’m getting the itch to write again, my own experiences seem like a good place to start.

My sister, who spent a couple of nights here, wouldn’t sleep in the second bedroom because she claimed the ghost of an old woman sat and watched her. I’m sure it was some sort of lucid dream because no one around here remembers anyone dying in this house. Still, that old woman seems to have served herself up as a handy victim.

I have no idea where to go with the story, which makes sense since if it turns out that the fictional woman was murdered here and her body disposed of, perhaps in the cistern under the porch or maybe in the dungeony basement, I can’t see that there would be any resolution to the story.

Would you dig up part of your house on the mere suspicion that someone was buried there? (I really would like to know.) I sure wouldn’t, especially since I spent so much money pouring a new basement floor and redoing the back porch (foundation, new sewer line, new floor).

And anyway, if it happened a long time ago, the person who did the dastardly deed might even be dead now, too, so there’d be no resolution to that, either — no bringing the killer to justice. I suppose the mystery could be why she was disposed of in whatever way I choose to deal with her, but there’d still be the problem of no ticking clock. If it happened a long time ago (even a decade or so ago is a long time) and no one seems to miss the woman or even know or care what happened to her, where’s the urgency to solve the mystery?

Obviously, there is no urgency for me to write the story, either, since it’s been percolating (albeit exceedingly slowly) in the back of my mind for more than two years, and it will probably be another year before all the current foci of my life have been dealt with so as to give me the mental space to write.

In all my previous books, I knew how the story started, and I knew how it ended, so it was just a matter of making the convoluted journey from one point to the other. It’s entirely possible that this book will be different, in that I might not have a clue how it ends. Or even begins.

If, in fact, it ever does begin.


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