My publisher sent me a message asking that I continue to write. He said, “You’re a wonderful writer and you do no service to yourself, Literature or anyone by saying you’re not going to write; after what you endured with your family (your dad and schizophrenic bro in particular—and the story isn’t over, is it), you have the material for a companion volume to Grief: The Great Yearning —of which I still sell a lot of copies. I want you to keep writing.”
As much as I appreciate the affirmation from my publisher, my life is so up in the air right now, without anything to tether me to the earth (except perhaps my dance classes), that I don’t know if I will ever write another book, though eventually I would like to finish the books I have started, including the book about my dance class. But the truth is, whether I continue to write books or just my daily posts, whether I publish with Second Wind or simply publish on this blog, I am writing because blogging is writing, too.
Anyone who writes is, of course, a writer, though the facility of self-publishing unreadable, unremarkable, and unworthy books has fudged the lines. It used to be that “real writers” were chosen by faceless editors working for megacorporations, but now writers are chosen by themselves, leaving readers floating in a sea of gutless books. (Gutless because so many books have no core. Gutless because so many writers never really risked anything.)
It used to be that money made a writer. If you earned your living by writing, you were a writer. Sometimes it was acclaim by the self-appointed literati that made a writer. And sometimes it was fame that made a writer. But mostly, it was sales. Money.
It still is sales that make a writer . . . to a certain extent. I know many so-called writers who toss out a book they wrote in a month with little editing, and people buy the books for some unfathomable reason. (Unfathomable to me, anyway.) I know other writers — excellent writers who actually have something to say, who work at their craft, and who write the best book possible no matter how long it takes — who have few sales.
So what makes a writer? Since writing is basically a form of communication, perhaps readers make a writer. And I have readers galore — on this blog, anyway. Some of my posts have had more than 10,000 readers. (But, keeping things realistic, some of my best posts had less than 100.) Maybe it’s the ability to touch people’s lives through words that make a writer, and that I have done by being willing to open up and tell the truth about my life. I many never write a book about my dealings with my dad and brother, but here on this blog, I have already written the story as it happened.
I always wanted to be a writer, and for many years it saddened me that I didn’t have the talent. Well, by dint of hard work, I learned how to write. Even found a publisher who loved my books. I just never learned how to sell enough books to make a living at writing, so I’ve never considered myself a real writer.
But I am.
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.