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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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Sun Down, Yellow Moon

I’ve been trying to write about something that happened two weeks ago. I was in therapy and I did something I’ve never done before: I told my shrink what my screenplay was “about.” Actually, I told her the plot, more specifically about the two main characters and how I couldn’t write what I had planned about them. Just as I said it, I knew for the first time what the story was really about, who these characters were. I had led myself right back into the central drama of our family (once again) even as I believed I was writing about entirely different creatures.

I raced home and wrote the ending. And another new experience: it wrote itself. All the plot lines like a row of dominoes falling in a long line of deeply pleasurable inevitability capped off with the pure satisfaction of the final tile hitting the table. Done. Only then, an angel descended and gave me a final image so strange I could have never thought of it.

Are you in therapy? Does it help you? Your work? Do you think it’s bad for your work? Did you ever sleep with your therapist. Do you give your therapist your writing/books? Have you ever solved a specific writing problem in therapy?

16 Responses

  1. Yes, I love my therapist although I would never sleep with her. When I first started to see her she encouraged me to write a journal. She was a believer in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron which guides you through a set of introspective writing exercises. From there my journals became so funny that she encouraged me to publish a column which I did and it CHANGED my entire life. I submitted weekly columns to the New Haven Register every Thursday and had hundreds of readers email me about laughing, crying, etc. I wrote about men and their knowledge of useless information. I wrote about my reaction when my oldest taught my youngest how to escape from his crib. I wrote about losing a parent, cutting down Christmas trees with your spouse, making it through the deli counter, and before you know it I had been writing for five years. It was the best thing I ever did. Now I have a blog and I am able reach these women there and soon my book will be finished.

  2. I’m not in therapy but I wish I was – especially with this book.

  3. I have a great therapist. Yes, it helps! I do give him my books and he gave me one of his. Sometimes I spend the entire hour reading new pages to him and he offers super feedback. Right now, I’m working on a young adult psychological thriller, so he lets me know if things ring true.

  4. I was in therapy throughout college and into my early 20s, but I haven’t been to a therapist in about seven years now. Last year, I thought I was out of my mind to be considering finding a new therapist with whom to discuss all my writing-related neuroses (I can’t finish this book, why doesn’t it have a plot?, why do I rewrite and rewrite and put what seems like too much trust in my subconscious to get the book right?, why do I want to publish this thing in the first place?, why do I systematically fuck up all my agent / publisher connections?, why do I have such a hard time talking to other writers on the blasted Internet?, etc.).

    But now? I’m thinking that this is maybe something I will look into.

    I loved therapy. I never slept with my therapist, but in my worst bouts of insomnia, I reallllly wanted to sleep on his couch.

  5. He keeps asking me about my father , and oy! that cigar, the old-fashioned gray suit and vest. I stopped wearing dresses when he kept saying: “slip, slip,” and when he makes me talk about my mother so much I could put my eye out. Id be different if he’d stop boring into me with those eyes of his. At the end of our session he’s the one who sobs, “, Jung, Oh, Jung.”
    So I decided to write a novel about him, my psychoanalyst., because it’s just, well, I had this dream and after I interpreted it for myself I discovered wherein my anxiety lay, lies, lied.

  6. If any of my alts is in therapy, she hasn’t mentioned.

  7. Had some revealing prose In an art show of artists who also write years ago before I became a writer who doesn’t also make art

    Invited my then psychoanyalst who spent the opening raving about my best friends work

    I’m so self loathing it’s a wonder I didn’t sleep with the both of them

  8. I have toyed with the idea of a comedic essay collection titled “Shrinking” (the verb denoting my experiences going to various shrinks from NYC to California and back), as well as evokes what it feels like as a trusting human being dependent on other flawed human beings for help and answers. Stories will include the New Age nightmare, San Francisco shrink “Tabitha” whose poodle Petey happened to be in on every session. Did I mention my former fiance shared the poodle’s name, and therefore “Petey” barked each time I referred to my ex, the whole reason I went to her hippee sessions in the first place? Then there is the one about Bev, the shrink/marathon runner and big hair who I liked to call “Erin Brokovitch with a prescription pad” who said, “I wish you weren’t my patient because I would love to go out drinking sometime with you.” No lie. There are more, but is it totally pathetic to share these tales of woe and Wellbutrin with the public, or would others relate? Hmmm.

  9. I’m not in therapy. I talk about writing with friends. Sometimes we come up with really good ideas for each other. Sometimes not,

  10. nope to individual therapy. i consider what my writing partner and i do each month as story therapy–exchange stories whether they’re finished or not. it’s so helpful to talk over stories in transit.

    marital therapy, yes. helpful at this stage of marriage (coming up to 20 years). you know, we’re just not the same people we were when we married (thank god) and there are re-negotiations in the making.

  11. I wrote, produced, and acted in a movie about one woman’s search for the perfect therapist.


    The central therapist character, a narcissistic self-absorbed woman, was based on my real life therapist who I have now known for 12 years. She can’t stop talking about it. She has also read the screenplay based on the short film (which parodies the whole recovery self-help movement in LA…anyone?) and has read my book about salsa dancing. There are a few sessions in there.

    There are few richer mines for material than a therapy session. If it were up to me, every character I write would have a therapist, but I can’t force anyone (real or fictitious) to get their ass on the couch.

    I could go on about this…but I already have…

  12. Wait, wait wait … am I hearing this correctly — that there are actually therapists specifically designed for writers?? For writing therapy? Is that true? If so, sign me up!

  13. Susan O’Doherty PhD has exactly such a practice, in Brooklyn Heights. She is a fiction writer herself, and also writes the Friday column for MJ Rose’s publishing blog: http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/

  14. On therapy, eh, you don’t want to hear about it. But I’d be happy to share what my gynecologist said about my uterus. It’d be equaly fascinating, I’m sure.

    Mostly posting to say Yay for you, Betsy, on finishing the screenplay, and with such a satisfactory feeling. You’re one of my favorite People That I Don’t Actually Know, so your writing milestones are nice to hear about.

  15. No sleeping with therapists…quite. post on that pending. but since writing is like being in a diving bell running out of oxygen sometimes, it seems that having someone with whom to “process” the process and all that doubt, has been palliative….xj

  16. Where I’m from, therapist is a bad word. Especially to admit to another person that you actually went and saw one. But, no, I don’t have a therapist. Honest.
    If I have a problem with my writing I ask God or one of his trustworthy angels. The answer often comes within the day.

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