• Bridge Ladies

    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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No One Will Be Watching Us

A fiction writer recently asked me if she should take a poetry class, sort of to jump start her writing. I thought it was an interesting idea. Look, poetry is always a good idea. But, I thought, there must be others: What about a violin class, or snow boarding? What about having an affair with a boarding instructor who is missing part of his arm? What about shoplifting?  What about staying in your house until you’ve eaten everything. Hello, smoking! Remember how well that used to work? Hitachi magic wand.  Go to therapy. Get on the couch. Do it. Talk about how much you want to blow your therapist, how you really don’t hate your parents, how everything reminds you of something you ate. Am I forgetting anything? Work in a bookstore, volunteer somewhere, trompe l’oeil the garage! Clean! Throw away five hefty garbage bags full of stuff. Pick your face, pluck your eyebrows, moisturize. Read a book that is 1,000 pages long. Cut up your credit cards. Stop talking.  Write in long hand! (Betty Lerner is a big believer in the long hand!). Get up at 5:00 am. Just get up. Or, stay up all night. Become delirious. Get a dog. Get a divorce. Get a physical. Use index cards. (Big believer in index cards!) Remember: no one cares if you write. Not god, not the angels, not the editors who turn tricks on 42nd Street. In fact, some people would prefer it if you didn’t write, would sooner see you wriggle on a hook for your whole feckin’ life than reel one in. What could be more liberating? Do it precisely because nobody gives a shit. Because language has not yet begun to go bald. And you are a star.

25 Responses

  1. When you sold my book, my best friend said to me, “That’s cool, because writing has always been just a hobby for you!” Most people don’t care.

  2. I did all that Betsy!! Except the guy had all of his arm and he was 3 feet 5 inches. He kept a piece of my heart, now baby.

  3. abso-fucking-lutely.

  4. I also really like index cards.
    Other things to do, to “jump start” writing:
    listen to The Allman Brothers or Bob Dylan.
    Drive around in your car.
    (Oh! and — FYI, anyone who’s going to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, next month — Dylan’s going to be there – !)
    And — going to the motorcycle rally could be another thing a person could do to “jump start writing”…
    Yes. Everything. Anything.

  5. If I could make love to a blog post, this would be the one.

  6. My kids are not prone to saying sweet, darling things. They are not sweet, darling people. I like them because the alternative is hard to bear.

    But recently, my son said something that hit me square between the eyes – he was hounding my shit about finishing my book because he has delusions of a book deal that will buy him a Jeep. (I told you that they are not darling.)

    He said, “I don’t know how you haven’t finished writing that story because even when you’re not writing, you’re writing.”

    He’s on to me. It may look like I’m vacuuming the garage, but I’m really “writing.”

  7. 1) Do people still turn tricks on 42nd St?

    2) I write down all my I Ching tosses on the back of index cards.

    3) You’re still the best, love you.

    (unlike Facebook, I can’t delete this after I’ve posted it. Uh-oh, here I go….)

    • 1) I think Betsy means the hookers who work in the Conde Nast building.

      2) And then what do you do with the index cards?

      3) I, too, don’t trust myself with Betsy’s blog after a few glasses of wine. I fall in love here every day.

      • I was hoping someone would answer me point by point. I should have known it would be you, Vivian!

        1) funny

        2) throw them away on the dark moon

        3) wrote that yesterday totally sober. On my first glass of wine now back from Fire Island…and…no new Betsy post yet! Oh well, better check Facebook, my AWFUL latest addiction.

  8. There will not always be questions. And then I will be at a loss.

  9. I am seriously contemplating smoking.

  10. Jeez Betsy, you have a great book in you. You just have to let it out … subsume the anger.

  11. Pick your face, pluck your eyebrows, moisturize.

    My new beauty regime. Thank you.

  12. nice

  13. Shake the snow globe. Literally or figuratively, preferably the latter. Everything Betsy named is a way of doing that. Shake it up, get things swirling again.

  14. How about taking a class for a stunningly difficult-to-learn language? I’m doing just that. Trying to learn Croatian. My brain is so frazzled that when I do get a chance to write in plain old English, it feels so easy and liquid…and expressing myself is so simple. Kind of like how easy it feels to breathe after inhaling Vick’s Vapo Rub directly from the jar.

    Mmmmm. Menthol…..

    • Did you read, Dreaming in Hindi ? How learning a new language changed her was the basis for the whole book.

  15. Speaking of maimed lovers, the finest lover I ever had was the son of a Chilean diplomat. He stepped on a grenade while fighting with the rebels in the hills. Large bluish craters mottled his calves. I imagined him as Woody Allen in the movie Bananas. But you know, a good-looking, incredibly well endowed Woody, with moon-crater legs. That was his story anyhow, and a good story makes a great fuck, stupendous.

  16. Air conditioning, ginger beer and empathy.

  17. I really think index cards have improved my writing, and they make it much easier to visualise a novel as a whole. I use a color coded system inspired by Robert Rodriguez’s approach to writing film scripts.

    And my current WIP is almost entirely inspired by my brief stint of voice lessons last summer.

  18. The girl can *write*.

  19. Screw the poetry class—this blog post was a jumpstart.

  20. Oh, and airports and long train rides do it for me.

  21. There once was an author named Lerner
    Who decided she’d stop ‘fore she’d turn ‘er
    Books into tricks
    For some smug New York dicks
    Who’d promise her stuff and then burn ‘er

    See? Poetry is easy.

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