Fifty Day Blog Challenge

Ever since I finished my two latest books a year ago (Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinshed, I haven’t done much writing. Not much blogging, either (though technically, blogging is writing, so I shouldn’t separate the two.). There’s always been an excuse. A shattered arm/wrist/elbow. A fuzzy mind from opioids. (I used to think I had an addictive personality, but I guess not — I was glad when I finally was able to handle the pain and stop taking pain pills.) And then there was the very hot summer. (The air conditioning in this room I am renting is minimal, and I was too hot to think. But then, I didn’t feel like thinking anyway since I seem to be in a drifting mode.)

Well, enough of the excuses, and more than enough of the parenthetical comments!

When I mentioned my non-writing to a friend, she said, “Well, write something.” Since I always try to do what people request (unless, of course, I am in a rebellious mood), here I am.

In 2011, I participated in a hundred day blog challenge: to post something every day on each of the last 100 days of the year. The time is long past to be able to duplicate that challenge, but coincidentally, I just discovered there are 50 blogging days until the end of 2017, and since I love even numbers, coincidences, and serendipity, I decided to try an abbreviated challenge.

And challenge it will be. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against the drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Today and the coming forty-nine days are more for me, just for the discipline of it. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, but it doesn’t really accomplish much, and before I leave my current place (the road — and an epic adventure — is calling to me), I would like to finish the book I started a decade ago, clear out some of the stuff in my storage unit that I haven’t been able to get rid of yet, become strong enough physically to go hiking again, and oh, so many things!

So, this is a start.


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.


What are You Going to Do With the Last 100 Days of the Year?

Tomorrow begins the last one hundred days of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do? Are you going to make a commitment to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — make a commitment to blog every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 364 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. (I’ll try to make the blogs interesting because posting something just to post something sort of negates the “challenge” part.) Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane.

Just to make things fun, I’m also going to give up sugar (and sweets of all kinds). I used to forego sugared products except for occasional splurges of chocolate, but after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I got on a sugar jag, eating all sorts of sweets I hadn’t eaten for years. When one is grieving, it always feels like three o’clock in the morning — your mental and physical defenses are down and your blood sugar feels as if it’s at a low ebb — so I got in the habit of treating myself. I stopped eating sugar and flour a couple of weeks ago, and I intend to continue doing so. (Sugar is a poison, screwing up the system, causing myriad problems, including weight gain. This has been known for many decades despite the front page news this morning that “new research offers the disturbing suggestion that regular consumption of high calorie sugared beverages may turn on genetic switches that incline our bodies to becoming fat.” Duh. Can you believe researches actually got grants for that? And artificial sweeteners are even worse — true poison! Besides, they make you crave sugar, and have been implicated in obesity, so I won’t be substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar.)

And a final challenge (the hardest of them all) — I’m going to stop obsessing over things I cannot change. When things happen that I have no control over, I tend to work them over and over in my mind, trying to make them come out right, but that only puts me on the treadmill of circular thinking. As I wrote once a long time ago (showing that I’ve always had this tendency):

it is real, yes
and it does exist
but that does not mean
i should have given it
so much of my reality

So, have I shamed you into taking a 100-day challenge?

Blogging is Writing, Too

I always hated the saying “A writer writes . . . always.” No one does anything “always” except maybe breathe. And anyway, the very fact of having written five books and getting them published makes me a writer, even if I write . . . whenever.

But it turns out the joke is on me. I do write always, or as nearly always as possible. I’m either writing an article for this blog, or trying to think of a topic, either planning what I am going to say when I do think of a topic, or experiencing things which I will later write about. I don’t know why I tend to think that “writing” means fiction writing, perhaps because fiction comes hard for me and blogging easy, but the truth is, blogging is writing, too.

On September 25, 2011, I accepted a challenge to blog for 100 days. (I found out about it two days late — the challenge was actually to blog the last 100 days of the year, and it started on the 23, but I figured I’d add the missing two days on the back end.) I hadn’t been writing much, just an occasional blog post, and I was drifting, not doing much of anything except struggling with an upsurge of grief (still don’t know why 18 months after a grievous death is so hard, but it’s part of the grief pattern). So much I had counted on had disappeared — my life mate/soul mate, our way of life, some of the friends I made after his death— that I felt as if I were disappearing too.

I thought writing every day would give me something to hang on to, and it must have worked, because after the challenge ended, I didn’t quit. I never actually made the decision to stick with daily blogging — I just did it — and to my surprise, I find myself less than a month away from completing an entire year of daily posts.

I’ve come a long way in the past 341 days, turned several corners, came to many realizations, but most of all, I found peace. Or rather, I made peace. I made peace with the death of my mate, with my place in the universe, and with my place in the world of books. Even without the daily blogging, I might have come to the same realizations at the same time, but writing gave focus to my thoughts, and daily writing gave focus to my life. I’d planned to stop the daily posts after my one-year anniversary, but now . . . who knows. I might keep going. (Though one person suggested — facetiously, I hope — that I should give my poor blog readers a break.)