• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Drive-by Shootings

For each day that I’ve been here, at the Tin House Writers Conference,  I meet with nine conference attendees for a ten minute agent consult from 4:30-6:00. I never did speed dating (I was more interested in long drawn-out painful dating), but it must be a little like that, you’ve got this tiny window to make an impression. Boom!

Some writers are like the little bird in the children’s book, “Are You My Mother?” In the story, a mother bird goes off to look for food. The infant bird awakens and falls out of the nest. He wanders the countryside asking all manner of animal, cow, horse, dog, etc., “are you my mother.” Of course the book has a happy ending, but it always broke my heart, maternal longing being what it is.

Others come somewhat shattered from a rough workshop session. Others come with questions written down on index cards. Index cards! Some of the writers are all over the place and you feel the ten minutes ticking down as they race to get everything in.  With some, I dig a little, curious about their project, their day jobs and lives. With others, I begin to wonder why I was born.

Last night, I broke through a shyness wall and hung out with the big game, the published authors. Drank.

6 Responses

  1. “Oh, oh, you are not my mother,” said the baby bird. “You are a snort!”

  2. It sounds like an horrific experience for everyone involved. Is there an outcome? A happy ending?

  3. The ones who got it right at the pitch meeting… what did they do?

  4. I’m curious about that myself. What qualities (or lack thereof) caught your attention and made you want to know more about their project?

    • As with most human transactions, it’s often the intangibles. Why you hire this person and not that one, why you gravitate towards one person and not another. In the case of these meetings, it’s striking the right balance between humility and confidence, it’s NOT blurting out the plot, it’s talking about yourself and your project in an appealing way that makes me want to know more. I think that’s key in any seduction, making the person want more.

  5. […] Agent Betsy Lerner (in her always-blunt fashion), says: There is only one reason to go to a summer writing workshop and that is to get laid. She also describes those 10-minute agent-meet-writer meetings as drive by shootings. […]

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