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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Might As Well Face It You’re Addicted

My name is Betsy and I’m a “writer.”

Hi, Betsy, Welcome.

I want to thank everyone for being here tonight. I’m grateful to the rooms, to all of you, and to my HP. (I nod my head here to signal my humility.) I tried to stop writing a year ago. I told myself I could handle it. I wrote because I wanted to, not because I had to. I wrote when I was happy, when I was sad, lonely, angry, horny. Eventually I wrote for any damn reason. (The room nods back in assent.) But then I hit bottom. I started stealing, lying, hiding my manuscripts. One night, the cops pulled me over, they caught me: jotting notes in my Moleskin while driving. That’s why I’m here. And with your help, and god’s grace, I will quit writing one day at a time.

Would anyone else like to share?

34 Responses

  1. Sorry, but if I allowed myself to write a single word, I’d never be able to stop.

  2. Hi my name’s Paul and I’m a writer. I burn things on the stove and forget to close the door. I stare at people when they speak to me but don’t answer them. I search for my hat when it’s on my head and for my car keys when they are in my hand. I often look around, not sure where I am or what season or day of the week it is.

    • Oh yes, yes! I’m there with you brother. I gave a bottle of milk to my husband, as in baby bottle…all that internal musing, makes for a total nutcase. It won’t be long before I kill someone blowing a red light.

    • Did you know that Teflon can melt? I didn’t until I was – this is true – boiling water. I started writing, and a while later I started thinking, “Stupid neighbors. Smells like they’re burning something. Idiots.” It wasn’t until I went to the kitchen to get something to drink that I saw the pot glowing red. When it finally cooled down, the Teflon was blistered and peeling. I threw the pot away. I don’t try to boil water any more unless it’s in the microwave.

  3. Hi, my name’s Jenna and I’m a writer. I can’t read a newspaper item without coming up for an idea for a story. I can’t read a book, watch a film, watch a TV show (LOST excepted) without getting distracted by elements that might make a good story. I have culled most of my friends, except for those who do things that might make good stories, or who pop out one-liners that might slot well into a story.

    Also, I spend much of my time sitting very still, staring at nothing, while considering plots, characters, scenes, paragraphs, clauses, words, adverbs, adjectives and punctuation. It’s possible everyone thinks I’m crazy and are considering having me committed. My only reaction to this is, that would make such a good story…

  4. Hi everyone,
    My name is Linda and I’m a compulsive writer. My story’s no different from yours: the little red locking diary when I was a kid, the elaborate journals of my teenage years with “Keep Out” written on the covers, the failed manuscripts of my twenties that I’ve kept, dusty now in my bottom drawer.

    I’m a deadend case, a hardcore writing addict. My disease only gets worse, never better. I want to admit to the group that right before I walked in here tonight I was writing, fishing pages out of the garbage can. I think, with this new low, that I can finally admit that I’m powerless over writing.

    With that I pass.

  5. Hi all
    My name’s Elisabeth and I too am a writer.

    I gave up trying to give up a long time ago because it is the only addiction i have that does not cause other people pain, at least not much pain, though I have been reported once or twice for upsetting someone or other. Still I can’t help myself.

    It’s a compulsion, as long as I can get myself to bed by midnight, I should be okay. But sometimes I even find myself writing in my dreams.

  6. I’m Bethany and I’m just here to point out all the ways my writing is actually quite different from your addictions. If I didn’t want to write, I could just stop – which I will. When I feel like it. I do pity you all.

  7. You forgot to mention about how you steal time away from your husband or family to be with the writing. You leave the husband to sit in front of the television by himself while you are secreted in a room somewhere with…. the laptop. You prefer the company of the story to your friends, your spouse and there are days when you look at them, coldly, and wonder when you can sneak away again. You can’t wait to be away in this world you have built for yourself that is so much more interesting than the one you walk through during the daylight hours, because it is, after all, a hall of mirrors, every shiny surface reflecting back some other facet of… you.

    Naw, I’m just kidding. It’s not like that for me at all.

  8. I’m Jane, and sometimes when I meet people and they ask me what’s wrong, I realize I look sad or tense because I’m so deep in plotting my stories and living through my characters that I’m actually mimicking their facial expressions, and then I have to make up some hokey excuse like “I’m tired” so they don’t think I’m nuts.

    I tried to turn to my Higher Power for assistance, but I found myself praying for my characters instead because they were in quite a jam and I felt sorrier for them than I did for me.

  9. Hi,

    My name is Scott . . . and I’m a writer. Sometimes, when I’m writing, I forget to eat. I’ve also been known to pray for a redlight so that I can jot down notes. I email myself constantly with ideas and leave myself voicemail messages. My desk is buried beneath piles of paper that I swear I’ll organize one day. That day has yet to arrive.

    I can’t stop writing. Like others, inspiration is all around me. IT (inspiration, clever little witch that she is) won’t leave me the heck alone. She’s always lurking around the next corner, behind the tree, in the bar, everywhere, frakkin’ everywhere. She’s the stalkerest of stalkers.

    I haven’t tried to quit writing because I know I can’t. It’s in my blood!

    S

  10. Hi, I’m Holly and I’m a writer. I have missed planes because I was so distracted by the book I was working on. I have spent hours in the “long lines” at the grocery store while my children were home waiting for dinner. I have looked clinically at other people’s emotional pain and wondered what it could teach me about my current characters.

    When we’re together, really all I want is to go leave and be alone in my study. Away from you. But what I’m doing is for you. Really. You can have the book when I’m done.

  11. I prefer to think of the urge to write not as an addiction but as an orientation. We don’t choose to be writers. The only choice we make is whether to honor our true selves or to live in denial, failing to commit to paper the words that are always running through our minds – a liquid mirror of reality – distracting us, preoccupying us, and on one occasion causing us to drive into a small tree.

    Coming out as a writer prompts the inevitable question of publication – will it happen? If it doesn’t happen, am I really a writer? Well, if I was gay, and I came out, and nobody wanted to date me, I’d still be gay, right?

  12. I always said it was just about the money. I claimed that I didn’t -need- to get on my knees for anyone with a budget and a BookScan subscription. I didn’t -need- to squeeze my yam-looking ass into those chaps. Didn’t need to let callow teenaged boys do unspeakable things to me with their red pencils.

    It was all about paying the rent. An economic decision. I wasn’t meeting any -needs-, except for an income.

    Then, last year, between paying customers, instead of going to night school to learn how to be a dental hygienist, I wrote a story. God save me, not even a -story-. Not a short, not a novel. A -novella-.

    The sluttiest form (barring poetry–poets are the literary equivalent of ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’). And not just a novella, a mashup. And not just a mashup novella, but a mashup novella I posted on an amateur writing site, with my tits hanging out.

    Seriously. I needed to write so badly I licked the floor of a peep-show booth for free, then gave away the video.

    And I don’t even -like- writing.

    • Please guest blog. The floor is yours. (Yes, the one you licked.) I go to my grave with that image.

      • I’ve got nothing to say; I just riff of you. I’d claim you’re my muse, but that’d be too creepy given my comment below.

        On the other hand, 230 people have downloaded my pseudonymous mashup novella from Internet Archive in the past year, so I’m on the cusp of greatness.

        Well, except I sometimes drop links to a review of the novella and pretend it’s nothing to do with me, hoping to bump that number to 231. I defy anyone here to be more pathetic than that.

  13. My name is Debbie, and I am a writer.

    I don’t sleep at night. Sometimes I forget to eat. I snap at my husband if he talks to me when I’m “thinking”. Of course, that could be because I don’t sleep at night and forget to eat.

    Although I do manage to read this blog every day, so really, I’m fine.

  14. Dear Betsy,
    When i first starting writing I told my family I was going to work early to see a client and then I would sneak out with my computer in my brief case and go to a coffee shop and writer for two hours before work. A small white lie…but as you know these habits can have a life of their own. I recommend coming out as a writer . First to people who won’t shame you and then, when you have amassed courage, to your loved ones. Betsy , we are with you.You are not alone.

  15. My name is Larry and I’m an obsessed writer. I think about my characters and their situations all the time. Sometimes, that’s all I think about. I was so distracted a few mornings ago, after I quit writing and left for my day job, that I got to work and realized I forgot pants.

    I commute by bike, but even here in bike-crazy Portland, Or., no one takes a man seriously in tights.

  16. Hi all-
    My name is Rose, and I’ve dug myself in a hole. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never though much of it. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a university with Psychology as a Major and Creative Writing as a Minor. Unfortunately for me, my family learned of my plan to help people, and wanted the family discount. I decided (fool that I am) that I’d prefer to be a Creative Writing Major, screw psychology, I was going to make money off my shambles of a family, I’d rather not council and console them, let alone at a discounted price.

    Now I’m sitting here, at the student union building, months before graduation. I have no job lined up after graduation, just the hopes to find a decent day job while I chase the career of writing. I have no day job to not quit. And my muse is a cruel mistress. She comes to me occasionally, popping in to say hi, taunt me with a few morsels of inspiration. She never stays as long as I need her.

    What am I to do?
    My name is Rose, and I’m a writer.

  17. Kick the shit out of your muse. You don’t work for her; she works for you. Toss her down the basement stairs and lock the door. Make her pay for sunlight with inspiration.

    • Simply brilliant, August.

      Hope this analogy, however, has no correlation to your issues with your mother.

      • I’d actually extended the metaphor a bit -too- far before I deleted a few sentences. My goal is to impress Bets, not force her report my ISP to the feds.

        -Everything- is correlated to my mother issues. Pity my wife.

  18. Hello,
    my name is a pseudonym, my sentences are simple and I’m powerless over my desire to write your wrongs.

  19. Well, my name is Chrissey, and I’m a writer, but I don’t have a problem. I only write for fun. I mean, it’s not like I’m hurting anyone.

  20. No, no, no, no no. No. You’re acting like writing is a bad thing. Like ignoring real people for the ones in your head is wrong. Like forgetting to eat or go to your dental appointment is a problem. No way. Love me as I am, or not at all.

    And, by the way, could you pick up some milk on the way home? I’m pretty sure the fridge is empty.

  21. Hi. I’m Susan…

    I’m sure my family’s lives would improve if I stopped writing and joined the slow cooking movement. My children threaten to hide my laptop when I refuse to give them leftover birthday cake for breakfast. My friends are tired of me calling them and asking such questions as, “suppose its France in 1765 and someone hired you to steal famous artwork, what would be your motivation for doing it?” I no longer ask them if they think I am a good writer or not, because it doesn’t matter anymore. We are so beyond that point. If writing were meth I would have lost all my teeth by now or blown up my house.

    • Sorry, I meant slow food movement. Typing fast “Pens that won’t run out of ink. And cool quiet and time to think. Shouldn’t I have this…” — Lucinda Williams.

  22. Hi, my name is Withheld and I’m a writer. There are long stretches when I’m flying high writing. That’s what keeps me coming back to the word processor. But, man-oh-man, these bottoms. Like now. When whatever I’m writing I can’t give away. And yet I keep on typing. My family reminds me that it’s self-indulgence — I’m not doing anyone any good — that I ought to get professional help and kick it. And the counselors echo that. They say, “Hey, nobody asked you to write.” They’re right. Meanwhile, the little voice inside (devil? angel?) whispers, “Yeah, but this is something I HAVE to do…” Fine. But we don’t let paranoid schizophrenics defend their actions by saying voices made them do things (well, actually we do let them make said defenses, but then we lock them up and require treatment…) If I choose to continue, to indulge this compulsion, then I take the risk that from time to time my sense of self worth will be rocked to the core — and all the people who rely on me being a rock will get rocky…I risk confirming beneath my compulsion lies — no talent. Just wish. Ah well. Bottoms up. Or is that Bottom’s up? Either way, back to the page…

  23. My name is Quita. And I am a writer.

    I started when I was ten. It was just a couple of journal entries here and there. Nothing huge. Then I started filling journals and also writing poetry. I’m afraid that I’ve moved on to the heavier stuff…fantasy novels. I’m so ashamed of myself for bringing my computer to even doctor’s appointments!

    I need to stop, and I will. Someday… Thank you for listening.

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