Spending My Words Wisely

I hope you’re not expecting words of wisdom tonight — I spent all my wise words on my book.

Yep. My book. Imagine that! Although I don’t hurt from whatever popped in my thigh yesterday, I thought I should take it easy, so I spent the day inside. Writing.

It’s been years since I spent so much time in one day on a book, and it was actually fun. I had several stray scenes that I’d once written but had no idea how to incorporate into the book, and now they are all connected to the story but one. That one remaining stray scene is a sex scene that I don’t really remember writing, but I’m glad I did because I don’t have much inclination to write sex scenes anymore, and it was an important scene. So yay! The scene is already written. Problem solved.

Except for that one scene, though, I am to the point in the book where I can write chronologically again, which will be good since telling the story as it happens keeps me in the story.

One thing that might be disappointing is that so many of my minor characters are more caricatures than fully rounded characters, but since most of them are going to disappear, does it matter? Besides, the story is from a single point of view, and since the hero was the group outcast and scapegoat, there wasn’t really much opportunity for him to get to know them.

Since the beginning of March when I embarked on this personal novel writing month, I have added a good 3,000 thousand words to the story, though I still have a minimum of 15,000 to go. I worry that the book will be too short — generally stories that take place in alternate or fantasy worlds are rather long, but those books are usually also told from multiple points of view with multiple subplots. But when you have a single main character, once that character has changed to become what the story needs him to become and has done what the character needs to do, the story must come to a close.

Meantime, my hero has embarked on a journey, so there is still a long way to go, both in the writing and in the story.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Here is a very brief excerpt from my book that amused me today:

Unable to see more than a few inches in front of him, he stopped. He felt a hard push on his back and realized the sheep was prodding him with a hand-like hoof. Or a hoof-like hand. His brain seemed to skip a cog, and for a moment he had the light-headed feeling that none of this was real—not this world, not the storm, and certainly not the sheepish humanoid. Another prod from the sheep. The cog slipped back into place, and he bowed under the weight of reality.



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.

The Beauty and Amusement of Writing

Madame ZeeZee's NightmareI have been enjoying being a character in my book, enjoying even more finding inspiration in the small matters of my life. For example, yesterday I wrote in a blog post:

I tend to believe my memory. Whenever I have gotten into a he said/she said or she said/she said argument, I can often find some sort of corroboration for my side, such as in a text or an email, which adds credence to my belief. Also, in dance class, I often remember steps when others don’t.However, there are a few steps from a dance we performed eighteen months ago that are completely gone from memory. Erased. I watched a video of that performance to see what the steps in question were, and even though I could see myself doing the steps, I have no memory of them.

It seemed such an interesting lapse, that I used the episode, which for some reason I found amusing, as a jumping off place for this rather chilling scene in the book:

I prided myself on having a good memory, and I believed everything it fed me. Whenever I’ve become party to a he said/she said or she said/she said argument about something that had happened, I could often find some sort of corroboration for my side, such as in a text or an email, which added credence to my belief. Also, in dance class, I often remember steps when others don’t.

Madame ZeeZee watched us practice a dance we should have known well because we had performed it a year previously in a concert at the local college.

We’d been working on new dances recently and hadn’t practiced that particular dance in several months, but we did okay without either Grace or Madame ZeeZee dancing in front of us. Until the final verse. In Hawaiian, each verse is repeated twice in exactly the same way, but in this particular dance—“Green Rose”—when the last verse repeated, we did different steps than we had the first time the verse played. Deb did something I knew was wrong for that last verse and the rest of us foundered. I stood there while the music died out, trying to recall the right steps, but I had absolutely no memory of that final sequence.

We danced “Green Rose” a second time, with Madame ZeeZee leading us. I did the dance perfectly, but only because I watched her. I didn’t remember ever having done those final steps before. It was as if the memory had been completely erased.

Walking home after class, I pondered the mystery of my missing memory. Could this be the beginning of Alzheimer’s? Or could I always have had blank spots in my memory? If so, how would I know? I only knew what I remembered.

I did remember telling Jackie once that I was an unreliable narrator, but I’d been talking about my lack of attention to details, not my memory. But now I wondered about Grace’s death.

Could I have done something besides play her mystery game that got her killed? Did Deb know what I had done, and that’s why she claimed the death was all my fault? I refused to believe the ghastly thought. Erasing a few steps of a dance was one thing, but losing the memory of a murder was something completely different.

Still, I hardly slept at all that night, and when I did, I dreamed of shadowy beings I should have remembered, but didn’t.

Ah, the beauty and amusement of writing!


(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.”)