• 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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I Heard There Was A Secret Chord

How can tell if your work is good? How can you tell if it’s done? how do you know if readers will feel what you want them to feel? See what you see? Why did you choose red over scarlet? Blue over cerulean? Dumb ass over douche bag? What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Is your character real or made from mix? Does your work scream amateur or does it mingle in a smoking jacket? How does time move? A day, a year, a century? A million kisses?  Is there a clock? For whom does it toll? To thine own self? Or Ruth amid the aliens? What pattern is the wallpaper, the china, the china china? Are your similes  brittle, brash, unexpected,  bashful?  Does a river run through it? Do you even know what it is “about?” And please don’t “about” me. Are you lean, concise, compressed?  Bold, sassy, expansive? Highway or my way? Back hoe or pick? Do you tap, slam, rap, dip? Brush, smudge, thumb, tongue. Do you lick it, kick it, kill it, burn it. Are you in the driver’s seat? The sandbox? The stairway to my fat heaven. Can I see your license and registration? Do you seek the sun, the sea, the long finger of love.

Who says you’re a writer?

61 Responses

  1. I say that I am a writer. It is up to agents and publishers to make me an author.

  2. I write. I’m a writer.

    I’m going to go do some writing now. And yes, I’ll wash my hands afterward, Mr. Heinlein.

  3. Nobody can say it but myself. But who am I to judge? I guess I’ll never know…

  4. If I don’t believe I am, who else will?

  5. To answer one of the questions: The china is bits of pieces of the family china and silver that couldn’t be sold and no one wants these days: soup tureens,dessert plates, demi-tasse cups, oversized gravy boats, as well as napkin rings, oyster forks, and salt cellars. Ruth makes an appearance. And a river runs through it.

    The other questions about being a writer etc etc are too hard and confusing for me….can’t answer them.

  6. Every item of clothing I own has the word writer written on it in Sharpie.

  7. The papers are shouting from my desk, “You suck!” No writer reference there. I haven’t yet but I swear I’m going to shut them up with a match. I guess that would make me an amateur.

    • I’ve fantasized many times about burning my pages in the sink with a lighter or at the fire place Little Women style. I think it’s because just for a moment you would feel back in control…

    • I did this once, about ten years ago to a scene that wasn’t working no matter how many times I rewrote it. I needed to pitch it but was having trouble letting it go.

      So I gathered up all the pages and notes for it and burned them in our kettle grill. We cooked salmon burgers with it, which was a far better use of the paper.

      And then I moved on.

    • Last month I threw away a box full of draft short stories that I knew I would never finish. I felt better immediately and still don’t regret it. It was crap.

    • It’s so frustrating. I tried not to be rash in the wee hours of the night but I’ve decided it might be time for the job with benefits. I’m sure I’ll get to write memos about the lunches growing mold in the fridge. I’m pretty good at those.

  8. I don’t think about being a writer, except when forced to. When people ask, what do you do? Even then, I don’t say, I’m a writer. I say, I write. Or, I’m working on a book. Other people then say I’m a writer. I thus have a reputation among my acquaintances, even though I have very little to show for it.

    I’m still figuring out what kind of writer I am.

  9. I say I’m a writer. And I even say it out loud these days. Know how I know? I have stack a rejection letters to prove it. They’re my battle scars and I wear ’em proud.

  10. Genius!

    “Does your work scream amateur or does it mingle in a smoking jacket?”

    I’ll have that image in my head forever more. Ooh I so want to write a smoking jacketed, pipe-smoking, arched eyebrowed book.

  11. Amateur, definitely my writing screams amateur. But so what? I have fun with it and it makes people smile…

    B

  12. “Does your work scream amateur? ”

    Yes and it also squeals like a stuck pig.

  13. because my house is always a mess, the dogs are sleeping on the sofa, and I cannot account for chunks (hours) of time. . . and money is not flowing into my mailbox. But I have hope. And I am compelled to do it.

  14. This week I received the most brutal critique I have ever gotten — and I quote: almost completely devoid of reflection, a narrator that is petty and mean-spirited and entitled, your high–handededness permeates your narrator’s tone throughout the manuscript, a failure to achieve…” There’s more, but I’ll stop boring you here.

    I am a writer. I know this, because after I sobbed, ate half a jalapeno/sausage pizza, and drank a whole bottle of wine by myself, I had to wake up the next morning and read my manuscript with new eyes. And fix it.

  15. Whatever it is that makes me consistently try.

  16. reading that felt good.

    like machine gun fire.

    i mostly linger awaiting machine gun bursts like this. am i writer is one of those questions i keep filed in the same folder with am i feeding my kids enough vegetables. the file folder label reads, “it’s all going to workout, stop worrying about it.”

  17. The urge to write says I’m a writer. Sometimes it’s a straitjacket, sometimes it’s the pick for handcuffs.

  18. Nah, that wasn’t good enough. You asked questions.

    *How can tell if your work is good?

    You can’t. You can only tell if your heart bled into it.

    *How can you tell if it’s done?

    When every word is sharpened to the point of exhaustion. And then you sharpened each word again.

    *how do you know if readers will feel what you want them to feel? See what you see?

    You won’t know until the readers read the work. They will let you know then, loud and clear. And they may feel and see things in your work you would never think of, beautiful things.

    *Why did you choose red over scarlet? Blue over cerulean? Dumb ass over douche bag?

    Feeling plain, thinking plain. Feeling simple, thinking simple.

    *What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Is your character real or made from mix?

    We add mystics and science, clay and water, and golem-like a real creature emerges.

    *Does your work scream amateur or does it mingle in a smoking jacket?

    It wears the jacket, but deep down it knows it doesn’t belong.

    *How does time move? A day, a year, a century? A million kisses?

    Time slows in elegy of the pen.

    *Is there a clock? For whom does it toll? To thine own self?

    The clock is the bell that tolls midnight, when we will all translate to princesses and princes.

    *Or Ruth amid the aliens?

    We are aliens, we are Ruth. We spend the night in cursive stacks of wheat waiting for our future to be faithful.

    *What pattern is the wallpaper, the china, the china china? Are your similes brittle, brash, unexpected, bashful? Does a river run through it?

    Through the china peeks a river. Then it pours. Then the wallpaper turns to waterfall, and the children rejoice and dance.

    *Do you even know what it is “about?” And please don’t “about” me.

    Click here to learn more “about me”.

    *Are you lean, concise, compressed? Bold, sassy, expansive? Highway or my way? Back hoe or pick? Do you tap, slam, rap, dip? Brush, smudge, thumb, tongue. Do you lick it, kick it, kill it, burn it. Are you in the driver’s seat? The sandbox? The stairway to my fat heaven.

    Buried alive.

    *Can I see your license and registration?

    No, officer. This highway is free.

    *Do you seek the sun, the sea, the long finger of love.

    Don’t we all? And yet I hate the sea, only loving the image.

  19. I was alway a writer, my publisher is making me an author . Now I sit and wonder what the reader will have to say.

  20. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I just received a note from an old friend. We haven’t spoken in years. She’s one of those people listed under the major deals on PW. Brilliant writer. It’s funny how someone outside your usual circle can remind you of the things you’ve forgotten about yourself. It’s time to fix another cup of coffee and sit my butt in the chair. I have almost five hours before the house is filled with kids. Too weird. I’d like to change my answer. Writer? I don’t know, maybe.

    • Just in the nick of time, and just the right person to lift your chin. I had visions of your WIP going up like the towering inferno. So glad you’re back in the saddle.

  21. A tightrope between two tall trees with the biggest woodpecker you’ve ever seen pecking at an insect just under the knot on one side and a hungry bear slashing at the rope on the other. Me, I’m in the sagging middle trying to keep my balance and hoping the wind from the rescue helicopter doesn’t knock me over before it can snag my uncertain ass.

    I’m guessing it’s the bear who will decide my fate as a writer.

  22. The baffled king composing Hallelujah!

    There’s a blaze of light
    In every word
    It doesn’t matter which you heard
    The holy or the broken Hallelujah

  23. i write stories. my style is compressed. i care that my characters speak in an authentic voice and, beyond that, i don’t really know if readers get the story. presently, i’m writing my fear of China (the nation) into a story and it’s kinda weird but i like it.

    ‘The Twisted Lady watches over all of us, thinks Load Toad. Like a God, even though I don’t believe in Gods. Abandons the people to scavenge for scrap currency.’

    that sorta thing. i don’t know what it all means but i’m having fun writing it out.

  24. Nice. Here’s what one of my characters said on the subject, a few years back:

    You ask if I like the feel of silk against my ass? Do I like women who wear leather and carry large-caliber handguns? Servants in lace who feed me grapes? Dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener? Boots or loafers? Cocks or cunts?
    Well, the answer to all your stupid questions is this: So what if you’re writing a book. Just who the fuck do you think you are?

  25. I know I’m a writer because that’s what I do: write. I assume I’m an “author” because I’ve been published. So, I don’t think my work screams “Amateur!” but I definitely wouldn’t know what to do with a literary smoking jacket if it walked across my gray matter under its own scarlet power.

    As far as readers feeling what I want them to? I suppose it boils down to finding like-minded minds. For I believe there are writing styles that resonate with some, while others wouldn’t even expend a blink.

    So I just write “my way” and hope there are multitudes waiting to crowd my “highway.”

  26. Compare it to something evil.
    The toothpick will come out clean.
    Write in second person.
    Insert pictures.
    I prefer Stephen King to Margaret Mitchell.
    Didn’t know how to spell “cerulean.”
    There was a donkey.
    Is your Benzedrine, uh huh?
    A mix. And if you let it sit, the plot thickens.
    It screams in a smoking (and nearly smoldering) jacket.
    In mysterious ways.
    Also in mysterious ways.
    No, only 999,998. I miscounted.
    Yes, but it hasn’t worked since the lightning strike.
    For thee.
    No, that doesn’t ring true.
    Wasn’t there corn involved?
    Paisley, paisley, and paisley paisley.
    Nope. Sleepy, grumpy, and dopey.
    Only when it’s running late.
    Do “you?”
    Okay, I won’t.
    I am, but my words are ugly, bloated things.
    Close: Expensive Italian sissy.
    I’ll take the low road.
    I’ll pick back hoe.
    Not in polite company.
    Rarely in polite company.
    All the fuckin’ time.
    My safety belt’s even fastened.
    I’m building a moat.
    Mine has an escalator.
    I doubt it. Not from there.
    Two out of three ain’t bad.

    I do. What’s it to ya?

  27. If I tell a person I’ve just met that I’m a writer, I expect them to laugh or frisk me, because I’m obviously a liar and maybe a thief. Amazingly, they usually just say, “Cool. I’m an ESL teacher” or something like that.

    I’m the only one who ever said I’m not a writer – or more exactly, I am not good enough to be a writer. I’m spending my days and nights trying to prove myself wrong.

  28. I am a writer because I have a story to tell. An idea that needs explored. A message that people should see, hear, read, consider, share.

  29. It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift.

  30. writerrejected–one of my favorite songs–and it’s in my WIP, too.

  31. people who detest words like sassy are likely writers

  32. I know I’m a writer because I can’t let it go. When I’m trapped on the couch under a sleeping baby, I whisper for somebody to bring me a pen and some paper. When it’s 2AM and I have to get up in four hours, I’m revising and re-reading. When I read a really, really, really well crafted book, I have a split-second daydream that I wrote that book and I’m *that* good. Because if I stop writing for any length of time and try to fill the space with cooking or kids or shopping or knitting or learning to play the piano, then I start to get edgy and wonder what Prozac could do for me. And sure, my writing yells “amateur”, but I keep beating it down with writing guides and manuals and how-to’s and blogs until it’s just a whisper. And maybe someday the number of sentences I nail will far outweigh the clunky junk.

  33. Damn. That was a sweet post.

  34. worshiper

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