Books and Blogs

I seem to be doing my blogging later and later as time goes on. Unfortunately, inspiration is hard to come by when one spends most of one’s time alone. And then there is the matter of laziness, perhaps, or simply a tendency toward procrastination. Either way, here I am with my lights on since it’s dark outside, trying to think of something interesting to say. One of these days, I will give in to the temptation to let a day or two slide, but for now, I’ve committed to daily blogging for the rest of the year.

Just about the only thing I’ve been thinking about (other than that it will be another six months before I can get back into gardening) is the awful book I just finished reading. I could have put it aside at any time, of course, but then the uneasiness fostered by the story would have lingered much longer than it would by finishing it. Normally I don’t read contemporary women’s lit, but I needed a break from my usual diet of murder and suspense, which is a mistake I won’t be making again soon.

There seem to be two types of books that are targeted specifically for women — happily-ever-after stories (romances that tell the beginning of a relationship), and unhappily-ever-after stories, (novels that tell what happens to the loving couple after many years of being together).

This particular book was of the second variety. The main theme was about communication; none of the characters every told their partner what they were thinking. They expected the other person to know what was going on in their minds without their having to say a single word, and each character interpreted their partner’s actions in light of their own insecurities rather than the partner’s.

Even worse, the novel told three very loosely connected stories. The only connecting element was a house that none of them end up with; otherwise, the three stories had nothing to do with one another. Worst of all, there was nothing in any of the stories to offset the growing sense of dread and dreariness as the couples all drifted further apart. Just misunderstanding built on misunderstanding built on misunderstanding.

Simple discussions at the beginning of the book would have swept away all those misunderstandings. But then, there would have been no book for me to suffer through. Nor would I have had anything to write about today.

One of the stories was about a couple who were divorced from their original partners, and who ended up getting married. Since each had children from the prior marriage, and each child brought their own insecurities to the new home, dread was piled on dread. Some of that dread, I am sure, has to do with my own situation. I am at the age where, if I ever ended up in another relationship, it would be complicated by his children and grandchildren and perhaps even a great-grandbaby or two. (Unless, of course, he’s the type to eschew all family, in which case he wouldn’t be worth having.) The mere thought of having to sort out and find a way to combine the baggage of two lifetimes wearies me.

Luckily, I have no interest in another relationship. I have a house (and this blog), and that’s about as much responsibility as I want in my life.

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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.

I Am So Romantic!

sleeping bearNichole Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, wrote a blog post in honor of Valentine’s Day next month, entitled Are you romantic? Or romantic? She admits that she’s not romantic, “at least not in the “wine me, dine me, we live happily ever after” way. Then again, if you mean “romantic” in the Edgar Allen Poe, basing your writing on the Supernatural, I’m so romantic it’s not even funny.”

I can relate to that. I used to enjoy a bit of traditionally defined romance in movies, books, and in my own writing, but I’ve noticed lately that I’ve become something of a romance-phobe. I think it has to do with dealing with my loneliness, getting on with my single life, and accepting aloneness as my current normal.

I first noticed a change about a year ago. I could no longer handle books with a happy ending for the romance subplot (I don’t read romances per se; the romance always has to come as an adjunct to a more compelling story.) I didn’t like that the character got to have a romance when I no longer could. (It made me cry, if you must know.) On the other hand, if there was no happy ending to the romantic subplot, well, that made me cry too, and quite frankly, I’m sick of crying. So . . . no more reading.

Lately I’ve noticed that the romantic subplot in movies makes me itchy. Not only does secondhand romance seem pathetic, it makes me feel lonely, and I certainly don’t need anything to a) remind me that I don’t have a romantic relationship and b) make me feel lonelier than I already am.

Which brings me to writing. I’ve been thinking about writing fiction again. I want to find time and space (mental space, that is) to write the dance murder mystery that was once suggested to me, but beyond that, I haven’t a clue what to write. My work-in-progress features a necessary romance (necessary because they have to have a baby. Although that baby doesn’t show up until the very end of the book, he is the crux of the story). But I begrudge those poor characters their romance and so the book remains a work-in-pause. In two other WIPs, the poor girl goes off into the sunset by herself, which at one time fit my idea of romance, but now just seems . . . lonely.

So . . . no books, no movies, no writing. No coupling of any kind. If that’s romance, then yes, like Nichole, I am so romantic it’s not even funny.

Click here to read Nichole’s post: Are you romantic? Or romantic?

Click here to read an interview with Nichole R. Bennett, Author of “Ghost Mountain”

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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.

Camping on the Edge of Life

Too often now I feel as if I am camping on the edge of life. To a certain extent, this feeling comes from my current living situation. I am staying with my 96-year-old father to make sure he retains his independence as long as possible, but since his house is fully furnished, that means most of my stuff is in storage. I have my clothes, of course, my computer, my own towels, a few kitchen items, a couple of furniture pieces (such as the table and chair I’m presently using for my desk) — just enough to connect me to the past but not enough to make me feel settled. I won’t be staying here once my father is gone campingand that knowledge also keeps me from feeling settled, makes me feel as if I am just camping in. (Rather than camping out.)

More than that, though, this feeling of camping on the edge of life comes from being single in a coupled world. It’s been three and a third years since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and I’m still not comfortable with his being gone. Despite that, quite inexplicably I’m forgetting that I once shared my life, once loved deeply, once felt as if I lived smack dab in the middle of life. As my grief continues to wane, as I move further from him, it seems as if this is lonely existence is what my life has always been — and it should be enough, but it isn’t. Not yet.

We live in a world where movies, books, songs, videos, shows, ads and commercials all extol the virtue of being in an intimate relationship. Love makes the world go round. You’re nobody till somebody loves you. All you need is love. Love makes you feel complete. Love makes you feel fulfilled. Love makes life worth living.

This constant barrage of coupled love and happily ever after is a sad message for many of us — either we lost our love too soon through death or divorce, or never found someone in the first place.

Intellectually, I know that whatever I am doing or feeling is life. Being together or being alone, feeling fulfilled or feeling unfulfilled — all of it is life. And yet, I can’t help feeling that something is missing.

It might sound as if I’m looking for someone to share my life with, but I’m not. I’m just aware of the realities of being uncoupled in a coupled world. I suppose there will come a time when I embrace the freedom of my alonehood, and plunge deep into the heart of life, but for now, all logic to the contrary, I feel as if I am camping on the edge of life.

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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.