Having Fun Would be Fun

Lately, I seem to have problems getting along with people. It seems that I’ve gone from attracting people to actually repelling them. Or it could be me needing to get away from life in the slow lane and moving into an even slower lane.

I still have a couple of months before I take off on my Pacific Northwest trip to see my sisters. I’ll be camping along the way — and hiking — so I should have plenty of time to deal with no one but me. Until then? I don’t know. Bite my tongue, I guess.

Luckily, I will be able to get away for a while this weekend. It’s not much of a getaway, actually — just a concert, shopping, and gambling. (Big gambler that I am, I might even spend five whole dollars!) But it is a change. I’ll miss my faux backpacking trips, but it’s probably a good idea to give my body a rest.

One thing I’m hoping from this change of pace is a mental reset. When I came back from my cross-country trip, I’d planned to finish all my works in progress. I did finish two, but the third one sits moribund. In my defense, after I finished the first two books, I fell and pulverized my wrist, destroyed my elbow, and broke my arm in dozens of places. The resulting surgeries, drugs, and continuing recuperation have taken a toll on my creativity.

Despite what I wrote yesterday about still being a writer whether I finish that last work in progress or not, I really would like to finish it. It would be good not to have it in the back of my mind (not that it’s much of an inconvenience, because if it were truly nagging at me, I’d be writing it).

Unfortunately, when it’s done, I’ll have to decide what to do with it, which could be a large part of my motivation for not writing. I’d like to find a publisher who would actually help me promote, but that seems to be a dying breed. And to me, just posting a book on Amazon is not my idea of being published. (Besides, I truly do not like how much control they have of the book market.) Nowadays, though, there is no way around dealing with them unless I register the book with the copyright office and then just give it away as a download on my website.

But first, I have to finish writing the book, and to do that, I have to get my creativity switched on.

It seems like a lot to ask from one quick weekend getaway — reset my life so I can a) stop repelling people: b) get back into the discipline of writing; and c) find the sweet spot of creativity.

But even if all that doesn’t happen, just having fun would be fun.

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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.

Fun with Fiction

Madame ZeeZee's NightmareYesterday and the day before, I did errands and chores so that I would have three danceless and carefree days for a writer’s retreat.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the mental discipline to work so continuously on a novel. Now that I’m in the swing of things, I make sure I write every day to keep up the discipline.

It’s also been a long time since I’ve had so much fun with fiction, but perhaps that’s because I am integrating my blogging style into my current novel, a story that takes place in the dance studio where I have classes. There are plenty of hard-boiled mysteries out there for lovers of sordid urban backgrounds and those who prefer graphic sex or violence or both, so I feel no need to indulge those tastes. Instead, my poor detective — based on me — is more of a thinker. Let’s hope she finds the truth in the end.

Excerpt from Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare:

I lay back on the pillow, arms behind my head, and thought about Margot and me and how, through a convoluted series of events, we ended up in the same place.

Because every action impinges on every other action, even down to the most minute particle or wave, the confluence of our lives would have had to begin billions of years ago, when the universe burst into being. Through untold eons the Everything developed increasingly complex life forms, and finally, it created a semblance of a human being. A million years later, our present species sprang forth, and many thousands of years after that, I was born in the United States of America. I — a bookish child with no talent or energy for physical activities — grew up, loved deeply, got married, became widowed, and traveled a thousand miles to Peach Valley to care for a dying old man.

One day, while waiting to meet a woman from my grief group for lunch, I noticed Madame ZeeZee’s studio, took a chance, and went inside. I never had a list of things I wanted to do before I die (does anyone have a list of things they want to do after they die?) because I want the miraculous: a love I never knew. And that’s what happened with dance.

Margot’s individual journey started nine years after mine when she was born in Lithuania with a love of dance. Her life of physical and mental discipline ended in murder and a six thousand mile trip into the unknown. And somehow, those two cosmic journeys—that of the bookish child and the ballerina—bisected at Madame ZeeZee’s studio.

Not a nightmare, but a marvel.

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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.