• 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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Solid As a Rock

After being away, I was excited to see what the postman had for me in my Ask Betsy Account. What do I get: bullshit. First, let it be known here and now and for all time: I do not need Cialis. I can still get it up, thank you very much. And I can keep it up. And I know what to do with it. So basta with the Viagra ads. NEXT, stop pitching bad projects and paragraphs full of bad plots for women’s (kotex) fiction. I don’t read it. I don’t like it. If you want to do this, send it to my LITERARY AGENCY WHERE I WORK at: mail@dclagency.com and an intern will reject it and I will never have to lose my boner.

Here are some choice tidbits from my mail box:

“Your photograph displayed on Agent Friday took me by complete surprise. I honestly had no idea you were so attractive. I had you pictured quite the opposite. And no, I’m not hitting on you. I live over a thousand miles away and I’ll be damned if I’m going to saddle up and ride that far in this heat.”

“…the first novel that’s earned the right to leave my desk drawer. I’d like to think it deserves your representation.”

“I think I have what it takes to write a book. I don’t think I have what it takes to land an agent. Does that make sense? Or am I just being a big baby? (you can tell me). Do I need to man up? I think I’ve run out of agents to query, anyway. Does this need to be an amazing book? Does it need a real publisher? ”

“Suppose I want to write fiction under a pseudonym in order to free myself of certain cognitive blocks during the writing process…”

“Whatever your intention for writing your book, I’ve molded it into a love story between the two of us. (Of course, not in the sicko you better get a P.I. to have me checked-out way.) You seem to bleed love for books … a physical reaction we share. And, I am committing to this affair with everything I’ve got. My fantasy novel (ignoring the fact that I’m using the word novel to describe its current state of ten-thousand words) has recently been dusted off and new plots and sub-plots are taking form as well as new pages are being written. This is in a very large part due to your sexy chapters. I’ve been tantalized and titillated, and feel guilty in that I’ve always felt better when the woman finishes first.”

Dearest readers of this blog. I’m now going to take a shower. Perhaps when I get out, someone will have a question.

23 Responses

  1. Okay, so I’m not that big a loser. Now I can fold laundry *and* feel good about myself.

  2. This is all so sad/hilarious/disturbing.

  3. I kinda feel like I need a shower too. Good grief. Who ARE these people? I hope they don’t know where you live! Eeewwwww.

  4. I didn’t know my Ozark relations could read.

  5. Pecker Mail. My husband had a disgruntled employee who signed him up for every get it up site out there. We laughed so hard because it is a pretty funny idea. Probably not the reaction the guy was going for.

  6. Oh. My. Fucking. GOD.
    People consistently disappoint me.

  7. Hey, no one promised you a rose garden…which, by the way, was an interesting book…but I digress…my head hurts…the voices….asking questions…but giving me no answers.

  8. I confess: “Suppose I want to write fiction under a pseudonym in order to free myself of certain cognitive blocks during the writing process…” was from me. It was also followed by a number of valid questions regarding pen-names that Betsy failed to answer (having confused pseudonymity with anonymity).

    I tend to root around in a territory Tom Spanbauer calls “dangerous writing” and, as such, reap certain psychological benefits by assuming a persona or pen-name while writing. I also know from experience that there is limited room in the lives of most of my colleagues, relatives, and friends for figurative expression, and would rather they not read my work (assuming it gets published). It’s one thing to have my work reduced to its subject matter, taken out of context, twisted, misinterpreted, and used against me by critics and other strangers; it is quite another to open onesself to private misunderstandings.

    So whereas the beginning of my mail (taken out of context) reads like hokum (even in context), the decision to submit my MS under a pseudonym has freed up the writing process considerably. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see the finished work, but for now I’ll do what works.

    • Well, at least you didn’t say the thing about the woman finishing first. There is no context on earth that makes that okay when writing to a woman you don’t know. Ever. Creepy, gross, ew.

      Regarding your concerns: “All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.” — Erica Jong. (Whether you’re a fan of her work or not, she relentlessly brought the personal/taboo/controversial to her pages.)

      Regarding a psuedonym, dude, when you have an offer on the table, you can address that issue. Until then, it’s irrelevant.

      • Yes, yes, and yes. Thanks for that. It’s difficult to get perspective while getting stared back at by the abyss.

  9. Trade you in-boxes. At least you get to laugh.

  10. Betsy,

    Writing humor every day, I appreciate it. Thank you for a laugh out loud. When I ever read “Bullshit” about the mail…You made my day. I AVOID my mail. My mailman will drive it up to my house and ask me what it is I have against the mail. I give him a cold Diet Coke, the international cureall and reply “Joe you just don’t understand.” Then I close my eyes sit next to the recycling bag and toss away literally saying bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, Hmmm… maybe a check? Nope more bullshit. I am still waiting for the Publisher’s Clearing House Award.

  11. I find it gratifying each day when I open email to find so many people, strangers all, are deeply concerned about the size and functionality of my genitalia. I feel the love.

  12. When I saw an old Arab guy in Tiberius, Israel sitting outside the public toilets selling little tufts of toilet paper to the desperate customers of those smelly concrete-slab lavatories I thought I’d discovered the guy who had the shittiest job in the world. But having to deal with would-be writers’ crap sounds even worse. For obvious metaphorical reasons.

    Fiction. I hate that shit.

  13. That is some colorful mail indeed. WELCOME BACK.

  14. You’re joking, right? Surely, all of those weren’t from actual emails.


    I hope not.

  15. Why Betsy! I thought you did read Kotex fiction – you know, on your sanitary pad.

  16. Thanks, Betsy. This is an object lesson for me: How To Not Let Your Desire (like your dick) Do Your Thinking For You.

    When I was a young ‘un, I sent my first submission, a 1500-word review to an editor asking for 250 words. I called him up to ask for my comps, and he chewed me out. I thought he’d be thrilled to have all that extra (great) writing. He still ran the piece, heavily cut.

    Everybody’s got to learn. I still do.

  17. I suddenly feel so much better about my query letter. Wish I had a question to make up for the deluge of eww.

  18. I can always count on your blog to make me laugh out loud – thank you!

  19. some people just love to suck up, don’t they?

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