• 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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Random House

I want to thank everyone who commented yesterday. I was deeply moved by a number of comments. I really appreciate it. In fact, I always appreciate it, old commenters and new commenters alike.

Do you ever wonder what the children of joggers will be like when they grow up; the kiddies who have been pushed around in those tricycle strollers? I think they’re going to be very fucked up.

October 6 SHEWRITES is hosting a book launch/fundraiser. If you’re in NYC, think about coming out. It looks like I won’t be able to fit into the Nanette Lepore, but I’ll make up for it somehow.

I heard Jonathan Franzen on NPR. He said he hoped people got that the title of his novel Freedom was “bathed” in irony. Many years earlier, I heard Shirley Temple Black on NPR. APparently a lot of shit hit the fan of her life, husbands leaving her and cleaning her out, this sort of thing. When the interviewer asked how she maintained such a happy outlook, she said she was “bathed” in love as a child.

WANTED: Five guest bloggers. I’m going away for a week in October. If you would like to guest post in exchange for a free copy of the newly revised and updated Forest for the Trees (a value of $16!), please submit a post to askbetsylerner@gmail.com  with your address. I’ll select five winners. You can post anonymously or bravely.

I met with a British publisher today. He asked me how I found time to write. I never know how to answer. Today I said, I’m very compulsive. Ha ha, tra la la. I don’t know why I can never tell the truth: I have few friends and thankfully most of them are out of town. I don’t watch tv except for Big Bang Theory and MadMen and my child thinks her mother is Facebook. I lost so many years to depression that I am making up for lost time. It’s what I want to do, that’s how.

How do you make time to write?

39 Responses

  1. I’m glad to see someone who LOVES the Big Bang Theory! I love all the characters and enjoy watching their lives unfold. The picture of Shirley Temple is so cute…she was truly America’s Sweetheart…no one could fake that smile and charm…she was one of a kind.

  2. Make time to wha? Huh?

    You lied because he’s a Brit, which means you knew whatever it was, he didn’t really mean it and would almost instantly forget it. Protestantism and generations of really incredible alcohol consumption have dovetailed to produce this tendency in them.

    They love dogs and horses, however.

  3. PS The whole idea of Jonathan Franzen using the word Freedom and meaning it is, you know, bathed in irony.

  4. America the Free. Haa…

    I make time to write because it’s one of the few things I think I know how to do. Well, I think I know how to do many things–and many people think they know how to write…but I like doing it and I like thinking that something I enjoy so much could be something I’m actually good at. I write because I want to finish something. I write because I like having something to do. Always. I like finishing a scene or a chapter while everyone is asleep. It’s productivity. I feel productive when I write. When I’m productive, I’m happy. It’s how I fight depression, most of the time.

    I also write because I want someone to read it. If I’m not writing anything, there’s nothing for anyone to read. I do it because I want to learn. I like telling people that I’m writing a book. I like knowing all these intricate details–how many people know that you have to query agents to get represented to get an editor to get a contract to get published? It’s knowledge and I have it.

    I make time for the reasons I’ve created to write. There are a lot more–these motivations. Belonging to a niche. Having someone to nurture my writing and my career, who is seemingly there for me as their job, as their client. It’s appealing to me.

    I don’t see why I wouldn’t make the time.

  5. Bathed in love. I wonder what that feels like?

  6. I wake up and write from 5-7am every day. There are hardly any interruptions during that time–except for the occasional commuter flight or heel-a-thon. NYC is relatively quiet. I’m quiet. And it helps remind me that writing comes first.

    • Same for me. I just forego sleep. I have 4 kids and a busy day job, early morning is my time, before anyone else is awake or the blackberry starts pinging. I use my OCD to my advantage, laying out a schedule of how many pages a week I need to write to finish and stick to it like a cougar on a crippled chicken until I’m done. Then I start again.

      • Line of the day! Cougar on a crippled chicken … I love that.

      • But how do you possibly do this?
        I have 4 kids (and 3 rescue dogs whom I love way too much) and when I had a day job, I wrote not a single word. Now I am not employed, and still have trouble managing all the kids and getting any writing done. Are you ever idle or day-dreaming? Are you writing a novel that sucks you in? “forego sleep” — meaning writing in the morning, or late at night??

      • DJ — I have to confess that reading your post makes me feel really depressed and inadequate …

    • Mornings are my habit as well but holy cow, hats off for the super early rising. It somehow makes me feel off balance to be awake before the sun is up.

  7. I’m either not writing, not working on my freelance editing, or not cleaning the house. I like to think of it as a delicate balance.

  8. I would have expected this comment to come from a woman rather than the male publisher who asked it. Women live in a state of perpetual competitive busy-ness. If you ask any woman what she’s up to, she’ll say with more than a little pride, “I’m really busy. My life is crazy.”

    I hear myself saying this constantly. It seems like I spend all my time at a computer screen, or behind my camera or the steering wheel of my car. I get lots of stuff done, and my kids run the gauntlet of rehearsals and practice and shows and school.

    Women will never, can never, admit to being anything less than a whirling dervish of activity. We’d rather admit to an STD than an idle moment.

    I write because I’m not allowed to take a nap.

  9. When’s your deadline to receive guest blog entries?

  10. time to write 😉 let me think… I squeeze it from nothing and nowhere, and afterwards, when the days shrink back to normal, I wonder how could I ever find it. But I guess either I find it or I die.

  11. I have set my life up to write every morning, but I’m single, I don’t have kids, and I work at night. I do all of this because writing is more reliable than a significant other, better for my mind than children, and more fulfilling that the rat race out the window. You have to want it.

  12. I make time to write because I have realized that sleeping is mostly optional. I write because I have to write, because I want to write, and because sleeping is overrated.

  13. I figure in time for writing. If something has to give, I opt for writing over housework or even reading.

  14. One or two hours at night… Carrying a notebook.
    If it comes write it down. Then look it over and
    carry on at night. Not an inflexible discipline.
    Still one or two hours away from a film, listening
    to music or play the guitar.

  15. When I worked nine to five I wrote in the mornings. Now that I work freelance I write in the afternoons.

    Making time to write is like making time to read. If you really want to do it, you will.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine when people ‘I wish I could read more but I just don’t have the time!’. Who are you the POTUS? Fuck you anyway, he totally reads. What they should say is ‘I wish I could say that I read more books because that would probably make me sound smarter that the activities I actually do in my free time like play World of Warcraft and watch Keeping up with the Kardashians.’

    • Yes! And I loathe the way people say it. Like, you must be the laziest person on the face of the earth if you have enough free time to read. They can recite every past contestant of American Idol, of course, and chant a litany of complaints about how s/he was robbed of the title.

    • We know the same people! I found after I quit discussing how busy I was with them, dropped their expectations and started actually doing shit I found time to write. I learned to say no I’m not wasting my time on that, taught my kids to crave creative time, turned off the tv and what do you know? Time to write.

  16. Writing is my business, not my hobby. It’s my passion and calling, but also my vocation.

    I don’t write, I can’t pay the bills or eat or anything else.

    I love what I do, I’m grateful that I can earn a living doing what I love, so of course it’s a priority.

  17. Where did you get that picture of me?

  18. When I decided to go full on with my writing, I let go of the house, the husband, 75% of the business, writing conferences, vacations, and pretty much my entire old life. I almost have enough time to write everything that needs writing.

  19. “How do you make time to write?”

    In much the same way you do. I don’t watch broadcast or cable teevee, have essentially no friends, rarely go out to any form of entertainment, and am running down the writerly road as fast as I can, the devil in hot pursuit. Sometimes I write early in the morning, sometimes I write after supper, sometimes I write late at night, sometimes I get up out of bed after lights-out when the muse demands my attention, sometimes I take a whole day off for a major push on a large work, sometimes, such as this time now, I snatch a few moments to scribble something light when I am supposed to be doing something else. Catch as catch can, I write every day.

    Gotta go. Have a pleading to get ready for filing in federal court today, and the deadline looms.

    Write on!

  20. I write during the day. It’s a perk of long-term unemployment. I get up, push the people out of the house, feed the cats, check the help wanted websites, and then write. Sometimes it’s a blog post, sometimes it’s the work in progress. It doesn’t pay much, but it’s nice to not have to squeeze it in between all the have to stuff like I used to do.

  21. I started coming in to work an hour early and sitting in the break-room and writing. If at home during that hour, home-tasks would pull at me. At work, when I’m not “on” yet, it is Focused Writing Time. Ironically, a nurse who works here asked me one day, “What are you doing?!” When I said writing a novel, she said, “Uh — you got too much time on your hands!”

    (She’s one of those “competitively Busy” people — and I mean that nicely, I like her.)
    But — so ironic. I sit there and Write because otherwise I seemed NOT to have the time, not because had “time on my hands” …

    Was thinking:
    There’s no such thing as “Having Time.”
    Then thought, There’s no such thing as Time.

    “I don’t have time” for something is “French” for “That isn’t important to me.” Or, just — that something else is more important, and best for me, and takes precedence.

    Last weekend, reading random excerpts in Sally Bedell Smitih’s “Grace And Power,” about Kennedys’ White House years, came across a description of Mrs. Kennedy’s typical day — she would sometimes sit at an easel and paint, in the afternoons.

    And I caught onto the idea that while Jacqueline Kennedy appreciated “Words” — she was known to be an avid reader (and of course an editor for 20 years in NYC) — while she loved and appreciated Writing, when it came down to what she would put Time and Effort into, in the way of Expression, the answer was: Painting a Picture. That was her “Thing.”

    I am the other way around: I appreciate the visual arts, but what I will put Time and Effort into, in the way of Expression — that’ll be a story, not a painting.

  22. I have to give something up in order to write — not writing. Sometimes the not writing is very hard to give up.

  23. ass. chair.

  24. I rarely force myself to write. I’ll write rabidly for weeks on end, then barely write a word for a few weeks. I write for contests. I write for deadlines. I like to write under the gun. My best short stories get written in a day. Often a few hours. The first line comes into my head. I put it down and can’t leave the chair until the rest gets out. I’ve always admired writers with writing routines. Everyone says, “It’s an exercise — you make yourself do it.” I admire that. I’m constitutionally incapable of writing a decent sentence if I don’t “feel like it.” The writing I force myself to produce is always crap. Revision, on the other hand, I can do pretty regularly and mechanically.

  25. Writing doesn’t take time, it makes time worth taking.

  26. On August 1st of 2007, I fell 114 feet on a metropolitan bridge, down to the Mississippi river, to what I thought would be my death. After, I was way more shocked to have SURVIVED, than I was accepting that it was possible for a bridge to collapse. My new reality turns the question on its head. It’s no longer, “How do I make time to write?” It’s, how do I NOT find time to write?

    I now have all the time in the world.

    What will I CHOOSE to fill it? What do I WANT to do? From that catastrophic moment, I rebuild my life and create a writing career where one previously did not exist. If we all could imagine our lives ending in a sudden, terrible, unforeseen moment, what do we choose? And if someone told you you couldn’t write, would you still choose it? If so, we make it happen. Stubbornness and willfulness can be an asset. Make the time. Dream, plan, study, learn, work hard. That’s my evil plan and I’m sticking to it.

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