Tag Archives: desert

Zigzagging

I walk in the desert, sometimes on straightaways, sometimes on hills. I learned something from the hill walks: she who goes up, must come down. And sometimes “down” means a very steep grade. I discovered that it was much easier to get to the bottom of these steep hills if I zigzagged from one edge of the path to the other. By descending diagonally, I can cut the steepness of the hill and am able keep my footing.

This seems to be a good metaphor for plot. While writing, we zigzag down an increasingly steep slope, never quite letting our readers know what direction they are traveling, but always keeping them on the path to the end. Or perhaps they are going up a hill, but the point is still the same: zigzagging.

I sent More Deaths Than One to hundreds of agents and editors, and the consensus was that my writing style was too matter-of-fact for the overly complicated plot. This from people who never read more than a few chapters. (Luckily for me, I finally found a publisher — Second Wind — who read the whole novel and understood what I wanted to accomplish.)

It could be that as readers head down the steep slope of my story, zigzagging from side to side, the plot does seem complicated, but when they reach the end and look back, they can see that the story is very simple. A straight path. A man discovers that what he knows about himself is a lie, and he sets out to discover the truth. Very simple. All the complications are simply the zigzagging path.

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Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,  and Daughter Am I.

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Life Beyond the Pavement

My life has taken a dramatic turn in recents months, and I am now a thousand miles from home. I thought I’d be staying in a sprawling city, but it turns out I’m at the very edge of the sprawl, and every walk takes me beyond where the pavement ends. I do not like heat, wind, or glaring sun, but this bleak climate matches my inner climate at the moment and is bringing me a measure of peace.

Remember David Carradine in Kung Fu walking through the desert? That’s how I walk — very carefully. There are rattlesnakes here, and scorpions, but I stay on the paths where I can see any life. Though, to be honest, except for a fly or two, I haven’t come across a single living creature. I pretend that taking photos is helping my writing by making me see things more clearly, but the truth is, taking photos also brings me peace — or at least takes me away from myself.

So, where am I? See for yourself:

This is where the pavement ends

The house where I’m staying is down there somewhere

Another view of where I am staying

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Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,  and Daughter Am I

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