Authority

All my life, or at least all my life that I can remember, I wanted to be an author. When I was much younger, I wrote allegories and parables, stories that mimicked children’s books but with messages for adults. I also wrote snippets of poetry, such as this one:

In a strange sort of way
It’s comforting to know
That no matter what we do to this earth
It well accept and accept
Until it comes to the end of its resources
And then, as though we were no more
Than an unwanted cloak
It will shrug us off
And begin again

Not that there is any particular significance to this poem, it’s just the only one I found on my computer.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided to become serious about writing. I quit a job, sat down at the kitchen table, put a pen to paper and waited for the story to come. I knew what I wanted to write — a novel about a love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with sensitivity and great wisdom — but no words came. I had always assumed that writing a book was sort of like automatic writing, and for many authors it is. When that approach to writing failed, I tried to pull the words out of my head one by one, in an attempt at telling the story. Unfortunately, I discovered I had no talent for writing and no wisdom, either, so I gave up writing.

Many years later, I decided the heck with it — talent or no, wisdom or no, I wanted to write. And so I did. That first book is so spectacularly bad that it is packed away where even I can’t see it. But I am not one to do things haphazardly, so I kept on writing, kept studying books on how to write (most of which made no sense to me). And gradually I learned.

I thought writing would help solve my financial woes (I can hear you writers out there laughing at such naiveté), and even though I did find a publisher (after 200 rejections), I never did find the pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow.

Besides financial gain, I’m not sure what I wanted by being an author. Acclaim? I don’t know if I ever did want much acclaim (being of a rather self-effacing nature), but I wanted something. Maybe the knowledge that huge numbers of people loved my books. Maybe respect. Maybe to make a difference. I don’t know. Still don’t, actually. (I guess I figured that if I made a living by writing, whatever else I wanted would come along with it.

And then Jeff died. When I discovered that few writers (including writers who write about grief) understood the devastating nature of losing a life mate/soul mate, I decided to blog about my grief, how it felt, how it changed my world, how I learned to live again.

As it turned out, for a small group of people — those who had also lost their mates — I made a difference. Even today, years after they were written, those grief posts are still making a difference, helping the bereft understand what they are going through, offering the words to describe what they themselves can’t describe, showing them that no matter what other people tell them, their long period of grief is not only understandable and normal, but is a necessity. Would you really want the person you loved more than anything in the world to disappear without tears and sorrow? No, off course not. Our pain is a way of honoring them. And, despite what people say, grief is not emotional, or at least not just emotional. It’s physical, spiritual, intellectual, hormonal, chemical — it affects every single part of ourselves and our life.

It awes me at times to think that my words matter to people. It awes me at times to reread those old posts when someone leaves a comment and realize how . . . inspired . . . they were. Maybe there is a bit of that automatic writing going on after all. How else would I be able to be a conduit for such wisdom and understanding and even author-ity?.

And so, after all, it turns out I really am an author — a person with the ability to influence others and to make their lives easier.

***
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.

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8 Responses to “Authority”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Not just easier. You inspire people, you make them find the joy in life, see things in new ways. You give people excitement that stays with them through the story. That’s a gift some might actually kill for (though I would never kill you for it. I’m too busy killing off my own characters!).

  2. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    I also had the wish to write, but I never knew where to start, and what to do if I did.
    Trouble when the schooling leaves a lot to be desired. Still I suppose I was luckier than some/most, often wish I’d been allowed to accept the scholarships that came my way; my mother wouldn’t allow me to; she wanted me to be out in the work force earning money to pay for her fags. I suppose I’m mostly self taught 🙂

  3. Kathy Says:

    I’ve been writing my version of 50 poems on my blog by the end of the year, helping me cope with some very long nights. But your story reminds me of the country song, “Chiseled in Stone” – “You don’t know about lonely until it’s chiseled in stone.” What a poignant reminder.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Best of luck with your poem challenge. I like your poems. I know what you mean about social media, but without it, how would I have ever “met”you. It’s funny, I always planned to go to LV and have lunch with you, but you’re no longer there. Well, maybe someday . . .

  4. Kathy Says:

    I’m surprised we didn’t meet on your blog – I met all the writers I’m still in contact with through my blog. Anyway, I ran across this guy on youtube and he totally said everything I believe about social media but he says it with more authority. 🙂 Here’s the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7hkPZ-HTk


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