• 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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The Best Things In Life Are Free I Want Money (That’s What I Want)

I always promised myself that if I ever sold a book, I would buy myself a Cartier tank watch. I got the idea in my head from reading Michael Korda’s superb book on publishing where he tells the story of how Jacqueline Susann’s husband had a Cartier tank sent to him, which he assumed was an expression of thanks. Only, a bill followed. If memory serves, Korda returned the watch. He said he’d buy his own damn watch if he wanted one. For some reason, I got it in my noggin’ that I had to have one of these watches. So when I sold the Forest for the Trees,  I marched my fat ass into Cartier on Fifth Avenue and did just that. I couldn’t contain myself and told the salesman how it was a present to myself for selling my first book. He acted impressed and said that he always breaks down and gets himself a gift whether he meets a goal or not.

What are you gonna get?

83 Responses

  1. OMG a weekly cleaner!!! and maybe a weekly chef, who comes and cooks and puts a week’s worth of food into the freezer for me! LOL Honestly, if I sold my first book and got a better then usual advance (usual being $2-$5K) I’d give myself the gift of being debt-free! I’d pay off as many credit cards as I could. What a relief that would be!! (dorky I know, but it’s an every day stress!!) You go girl!! 🙂

  2. A topline Waterman fountain pen and some monogrammed stationary.

  3. I am going to buy myself a nest egg! Do I need a new perspective on treating myself or what?

    Seriously, though a nest egg may be impractical on many levels, with the current economy, the peace of mind said egg will give will be the best reward.


  4. After my second book sold, I bought a 2008 navy blue 5 series BMW with cream interior. It was really cool. Problem is, I’m not and I felt wrong and self conscious driving it. I kept hoping I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew. I traded it for a Honda Accord. Now I feel right again.

  5. If Cake had been a best seller, I was going to get an Ed Hardy tat of a slice of cake with a dagger through it. Ah, well.

  6. A lottery ticket, because considering all the things I hear about the publishing industry, for a few seconds, I might be the luckiest girl in Canada.

  7. 2 book release parties, one where I live and one in my hometown. Catered.

  8. I’m with you on this one. I prefer the gift of time.

  9. I was going to get myself a Waterman fountain pen. But then I got one for one of my birthdays.

    Then I had a wood carving I kept watching on ebay. Absolutely gorgeous. And then I ended up getting it for a Christmas gift.

    So now I’m down to my third choice: whenever I get something accepted, I keep a bag of mini Snickers bars in the freezer, and I eat one.

  10. If there’s enough left after taxes, I’d like to put a down payment on a hybrid car — nothing flashy, but a new one, in hunter green maybe, would be nice.

    Except I’ll probably end up adding it all to our nest egg, like Judy S. It’s not that I dislike hummingbirds, but a nice duck egg — dare I hope for a goose? — would be more of a comfort.

  11. A MacBook Air, in addition to my MacBook Pro: I told my husband that tonight. Life is too short to be behind the tech curve.

    (He bought me a beautiful Waterman fountain pen when my first book was published. I treasure it.)

  12. Honey, way back in 1990, when my first novel, A Reasonable Madness, was published, what I got for myself was a load of fear and anxiety and pride. I’ve kept these things close to my heart for all these years, and each time I’ve had a novel published, I get more. If the memoir I’ve just finished finds a publisher in this environment, I’m getting me a load of shock to add to my fear and anxiety and pride.

  13. A 1972 29 YO bottle of Macallen single malt scotch.

  14. An Armani suit. I don’t really know why, I have just always wanted one.

  15. What would I get? You know, I think I would buy a plane ticket to Kyoto. Or a plane ticket to Tierra del Fuego. Or a ticket to Istanbul.

    Basically, I would spend any hard earned dosh on a trip somewhere. Some place fascinating and strange and beguiling. Yes!

  16. It keeps changing with my whims, but today? I saw this Steampunk bustier ensemble and I really, really want it. It would awesome at my book launch party.

  17. If I get a book published, I’ll buy 2 bottles of really expensive champagne and share them with all the folks who helped by giving feedback. If I get a really good advance, I’ll take them out to eat at a really good restaurant too.

    Guess that’s not for me.

    Doesn’t seem like splurging to say I’ll put it in the “become a teacher” fund. Maybe I’ll buy a diamond necklace, but a really small inexpensive diamond.

  18. A new passport and a plane ticket to Paris.

  19. “What are you gonna get?”


  20. I told my husband a few years ago that I’d buy a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. But that sounds very 26-years-old to me now, and the stupid manuscript has been through 7+ full rewrites at this point, and all the JW Blue in the world won’t be enough of a celebration if the editor who was interested last weekend (yes!!!!) gives me the go-ahead.

    There’s a French lady I know who’s lending me her apartment for a few weeks this spring so I have a different writing space. She’s a terrible conversationist but tells amazing stories. Ever year since she turned 18, she’s bought herself a Hermes scarf on her birthday. She’s 65 now. I can’t wait to see her closet. Anyway, I think I might buy myself a scarf if I sell my book. Or at least borrow one of hers for a few weeks.

  21. Sneakers. And a trip to Tokyo, Paris or Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

    Actually, I never thought much about money until recently. My dad was a professor (now retired), my mom an artist of all trades but mostly a-stay-at-home person (it was the lupus that twisted her arm or, rather, her legs). My brother is chronically mentally ill and dependent on my parents. Their unhappiness is my unhappiness. They’ve had enough, especially my mom, who works her ass off making sure my brother stays around, period. I’d buy them a comfortable house someplace that has a decent hospital (right now they’re driving from Delaware to Baltimore for care) and a good arts scene. Or any art scene, really. I’d take my mom with me to Europe, where she’s never been but would like to go. But now we’re talking, like, two screenplays, not one book.

    So that’s my dream then, too. To fulfill my family’s dreams deferred.

    And of course since none of this is going to happen, will add that I’d like to create a foundation and a nonprofit organization, both of which would help introduce low-income mentally ill teenagers to the arts. Something they could look forward to, something that would engage them in this world and get them to see more than pain and misery.

    • What a good soul you are. If I had any power, I’d give you an advance before you even wrote a book.

    • Melissa,
      Write your book. Base it on what you just wrote. I’d buy it in a minute. You hit a nerve, the nerve that reminds us why real books still matter. Real stories. Real lives. Enough yoga-girl journeys. You need your sneakers, your nonprofit, your trip with your mom.

      • Wow. You are so kind, Amy. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the encouragement! I am very moved. And will print your kind note, which will keep me going.

  22. I would use the money (whatever there is) to help me get out of my condo. I’ve outgrown the rules and would like to find a place where I feel comfortable again. Maybe I’d rent it out and travel to different places to write. I did that recently and I found it was great. That’s what I’d do. Thanks.

  23. I told myself I’d get a Coach bag when I turned forty. I bought a DSLR instead and it’s brought me more joy than any fucking purse ever could.

  24. I’d hire a babysitter for a weekend.

    I’d fly my husband wherever, and give him whatever he wanted.

    Enough said.

  25. What are you gonna get?

    Smelling salts.

  26. I’m gonna get over it as soon as I can so I can write another book.

  27. I took my husband to Vegas. We ate a vulgar amount of food at Delmonico’s, and the waitstaff came out at the end with a chocolate souffle on a white plate, ‘Congrats on Funny Money’ written around the edge in chocolate.

    I wanted a tank watch, back in the day – the one with the leather strap. I got a knock-off – an Omega, maybe? – but it wasn’t the same.

    I swore when I sold again I’d buy my husband a Rolex. Instead, I’m paying off our daughter’s law school. Well, paying off is a stretch. I’m spitting on the forest fire.

    Maybe next book….

  28. A piece of real wedgwood. Maybe a teacup.

  29. Maybe a haircut. Definitely a wife.

  30. Gosh. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I give myself gifts for all kinds of reasons, but they’re usually books. It seems like for a publication present I should get something with a little more bling. Maybe a new car. That sounds boring, but my car is 10 years old now and who knows how old it will be when I get published!

  31. Oh, it’s so sad. So very, very sad.

    A new roof. The one I have leaks, and who the hell can write with little drips of water falling on the keyboard?

  32. I too had to have this watch. I can’t remember the influence that drove me to it. A friend gave it to me for a birthday. Now I have a Swiss Army watch nearly like it, for daily wear.
    When I got movie money, which is less than the fantasy, I bought a Saturn.

  33. A stylist.

  34. After taxes, a keg and a 100-ct. bucket of extra-hot wings, a pair of socks, and underwear.

    The rest goes to wife and son to spree.

  35. Nothing until the second book sold. 🙂

  36. I have a book out on submission now – and I keep telling myself if it sells, I’ll buy a flat-screen tv and upgrade to all that high-def nonsense.

    I also have my eye on that new iPad with the cool cover. I’d get pink.

  37. A new bra. The one I’m wearing is at least three years old.

  38. A beach house so I could write looking at the winter sea. Summer renters never get that.

    And a weekly cleaning lady.

  39. I bought myself a new laptop I’ve never had a new computer I’ve always bought refurbided, I also bought me bunch of fresh flowers and some really nice thick paper for the printer. If the book does really well I’m going to buy me one of the new Ipads.

  40. First, I’d thank my agent profusely. Send her flowers. And discuss strategy for my next book. Anything left over and judging from typical advances on first books, whatever was left I’d take my wife and daughter and friends to a nice dinner to celebrate. Then back to writing.

  41. A hit man.

    I write for revenge.

  42. I always thought it would be cool to buy one of those flashy ‘right hand’ rings that places were advertising a few years back; like I’m so badass I married my own damn self.

  43. The leaky shower pan in my bathroom fixed.

  44. Given my own watch fetish, I’ll buy another to celebrate how patience and perseverance are timely rewarded. Hope you still have the watch and that you wear it with pride!! Well deserved. I recently read your “Forest Through The Trees” and favored it over “Bird by Bird” and Stephen King’s “On Writing”.

  45. A turbo Saab

  46. A Fender Stratocaster and an O’Neil wetsuit.

  47. Reading these responses was a trip down memory lane: after Hurricane Katrina, EVERYONE who came back to New Orleans spent some of their insurance money or Red Cross funds or FEMA funds on what has been locally known as A Katrinket: a tangible, often later regretted, purchase to celebrate survival. From tiny pedigreed dogs to flat screen TVs we all got one item to soothe our battered hearts. I opted for a pair of wood Art Nouveau gates (got a great deal at an auction). They greet me every morning when I walk outside to pick up the newspaper and I’ve fitted them with hinges that allow me to take them off the support posts and store them safely should another Hurricane strike. Their symbolism isn’t lost on me nor anyone else, and I’m OK with that.

  48. Health insurance.

  49. once I finish my manuscript – a really nice bottle of red wine – perhaps a 2002 Caymus Cab or something along those lines
    once I get an agent – a bottle of Cristal
    once I get a book deal – a case or two of Cristal for the launch party
    (I hadn’t realized I had such a consistent theme until I wrote it all down!)

  50. When *I* get a job, I’m gonna spend my whole first paycheck on a pony.

  51. A fat donation to the temple of my choice and Thai massages twice a week for six months from my friend Rama.

  52. Nothing much, maybe just a lighter. Classic Zippo, cherry red. With which I will burn my motherfucking mortgage.

  53. First I’ll get drunk. I’ll get my kids a couple of iPads. A shopping spree in Paris. Then I’ll ask Tulasi-Priya if Rama might give me a massage, too. Then I’ll ask August if I can ride that new pony. But, first, a question: my book is out on submission now. Reading through these comments, I’m wondering about the protocol. Betsy, do your clients shower you with gifts when you sell their books? What should I give if I do find myself this happy predicament?

  54. Endless boots.

  55. An explanation? I finished Food and Loathing last week, I had to get a day job, and it’s a day job!, but I don’t get why you buy into the the stuff bullshit. ? The watch says you are not a loser? If you lost something, what was it? Weird. People are fucking my head up. Weird, man, weird. I’m probably just the guy that just doesn’t get it, which doesn’t bother me, because I had a long conversation with myself about time a very long time ago, since you brought up acid in your book I feel free to confess, but the sun comes up and the sun comes up and the sun goes down and in between the stars and the moon give a little peace. Anyway, a little peace. A little peace of mind, a little peace of heart, and a little peace from wanting to break stuff — usually electronics. Forest for the Trees is coming for me, I think I’m next in line. You are a very interesting woman. You’re not poor, but you’re not rich, yet you seem to have lived, to varying degrees, in both worlds. Interesting. But sorry, no money — Library. Thanks for the language. I’m sure I’ll be rude in the future, but tonight you bring the peace. Hop, Hop, Hop!

  56. PS. No matter what your hippy spiritual friends tell you, money is good, if not the best. So, yes, that’s what I want. But really, what a joke. Time is a very strange thing, if you try to add to your thought all people, bums and kings. Man oh man.

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