• 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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Still I Look To Find a Reason To Believe

Why do you write, why do you write, why do you fucking fucking write.  No one cares. No one is waiting. There is no soundtrack, no young men, their legs flexed with sinew, no field of green slick with slugs. Who cares if you find terza rima, or sonnets or  villanelles. You can  fill hundreds of notebooks and lose them on trains, planes, in Courtyard Marriotts without a courtyard where you rent a three way and get bored bef0re the cum shot. You think about it all day long waiting for a cab, you think about it all night long writing in your underwear, a pack of smokes, a glass of watery gin with lime rinds sucked dry. You will not take a long walk on the beach, you will not binge on orange food, you will not see a Liam Neeson movie you have seen ten times no matter how desperate you are. You will not stumble around in your rented room as if you have a brain injury, you will not change your clothes, you will not open a can of soup the last tenant left behind with crusty opener slick with snail snot. You will remember something you can’t remember. You will stop yourself from starting something.  You will touch yourself until you cannot cry. You will not write. No writing allowed. Writing publishable by death.

Process, anyone?

48 Responses

  1. I like to sit in my flannel nighty while drinking tea from my grandmother’s china, a cockatiel on my shoulder as I write calligraphy across 60-pound powder blue paper.

  2. I don’t understand the question. Define “process”.
    Hoewer, I have no truble writing. I do forget a thread now and then, but I seldom have wrier’s block.

  3. Process what? I care, and I’m not no one. Nor shall I be. I write to save my life. Yeah, I’d like the whole world to give a rat’s ass, but fuck ’em if they don’t. Most of them have more important things to do, anyway, like finding enough food and shelter and evading the foul baddies. I don’t take it personal. There’s worse things to be than tits on a bull. I think.

  4. Oftentimes, I use a fountain pen and a legal pad (yellow) when I can’t face the computer. I find it helps as a jumping off point, especially when I sprawl across the bed with a pillow tucked under my chin.

    • I go the pen and yellow pad route a lot, too. But, then, when my brain starts flying faster than my fingers, I hit the keyboard.

  5. I get migraines, sore muscles, foggy vision and don’t know if I need more or less antidepressants. Rave, rant, curse, write, walk my dog, hate everyone, write, and don’t write and hope and realize if I don’t I will go insane.

  6. I’m tearing up. Somebody get me a giant lollipop and a cigarette!

  7. process is that point where the insanity and pain of writing is less than the insanity and pain of not writing, or the reverse, or something

  8. Guh,

    I write because there’s no other (marginally) acceptable way for me to deal with the overflow of words and people, plots and plans, pain and joy in what passes for my brain.

    I can’t paint worth Pollack, I can’t dance worth Spike Jonze in a Fatboy Slim vid – and Holy Cow I can’t sing.

    ‘Swhy I write. How is just details.

  9. I haven’t written for 6 days and i am really bitchy..it is not writer’s block…it is that i let other people get in the way…by others i mean my partner…my doing totally i know…also it is my birthday in a couple of days and that makes me crabby too…i write because i feel better, need to say what i say on paper and then it is over…sometimes i hope to publish big time and make $$$ but that is not the motivator…is that process?

  10. Yeah, strange phenomenon. I’m sure there is some sort of science for it that explains nothing. Perhaps, we’ll keep on living? If I make myself exist by writing, and not become part of the din, I’ll exist? Strange, strange, strange. As far as process, and god how I hate that word, every time I sit down and do some writing, that isn’t blathering on other people’s blogs, I feel much better, creating other people that are not me but have parts of me or parts of what I wish I could be, or things I wish could happen. Being a person is a weird and tricky thing. I wish I could have seen all this when I was twenty. Go figure. And I agree with Tetman—how lucky we are to have the time. Am I the only one that wishes Einstein was a relative you could talk to? I started The Tin Drum this morning while on the bus on my way to work, it reminded me of why I want to write. It’s good. It’s simple and nice. I love it, somehow. If there is a science for that, love, and someone has the nerve to try to explain it, I’m plugging my ears. As always—you’re the woman. I’m going to start Forest for the Trees in the next two days. I hope I don’t get too embarrassed about myself. I DO think I know everything and everything should be the way I want it. Go figure.

    • “Perhaps, we’ll keep on living?”

      Yes, writing can be an attempt to hold the Grim Reaper at bay. I write; therefore I am.

  11. Notebooks–I keep them saving anything that fits my theme–words from newspaper articles and whatever book I’m reading magazine photos or ads scraps of overheard conversation stray quotes anything. While the story is forming I write long hand, transfer to word doc revising as I go putting phrases sentences paragraphs in according to subject. Then I start to outline.

  12. Your back still hurting Betsy, or are you having a lost weekday at the Marriott?

    There’s a vein there. Go find it.

  13. A professor once told a class that the person who reads your work could be on their last chance.

    You agent because you need to make a living but surely, there are easier ways. You believe in the power of words. You write because you have to get it out.

    I write because books have saved me more times than I can count, and I am vain enough to think that maybe I can write that book that someone reads and thinks yes. Just yes.

    Technology is a blessing and a curse. But books, books are…they are my religion. And I’d like to contribute to that, to complete the thought, to make the story into something that means something, real. Fiction isn’t less real than people you meet on blogs. There are real people out there that make life a little easier sometimes.

    Betsy, turn off the news, turn off the internet. Please, just go read something amazing that you’ve been wanting to, that you’ve put off. You deserve that.

  14. Process:

    Just a moment ago I was feeling my way through the dark house with both of my hands in front of me and a piece of cheese in my mouth and I felt pathetic and weird and afraid and I thought, “I know there’s a door somewhere here in the dark.”

    It’s like that.

  15. Process. I read something somewhere it said good writing is like music. So, I wanted, once again to add a music video to your blog. That’s my struggle right now, to turn sentences and a story into a song of sorts. Struggle of the craft, I guess. Anyway, your back will heal, you will find the right dialogue and your kids with grow up right and the only sadness you will feel is sentimentality.

  16. When the keyboard provides a path to somewhere, when people you know, who’ve lived in your head for a long time, have voice and come up and greet you as you arrive, when you’re alive with joy or agony or terror as you stand beside them or work with them, that’s where writing takes you and you have to go because not to is to abandon them and they you.

  17. Brace yourself, now. For some of us it’s actually fun.

  18. i write stuff down and then i edit the crap out of it. if i don’t, i get really grumpy. it’s a pretty straightforward process.

  19. Pretty much that. Except for the not binging on orange food part.

  20. Whoa. You write because you are capable of producing a flamethrower like this.

  21. I write because it is such a pleasure to see what I have wrought. The turn of a phrase, the pace of a story well-told. Eliciting an emotional response. Manipulating the reader. The fullfilment I get from it. And then there’s the other side of why. To have someone read it and enjoy it. To make friggin’ money writing it. To garner some sense of making a mark that showed indelibly that I was here and this is what I did. It is performance, it is showing off.

  22. Orange food has lots of beta-carotene. Especially Cheez Doodles.

  23. Here’s why.

    TL; DNR: Why not? And because I feel like I have to.

  24. 31 answers, and almost all of them are about the people posting. They want a definition for PROCESS. They want to tell the world that for them, writing is FUN. They use a LEGAL PAD.

    Jesus, people, did you even read Betsy’s post? She sends out a flamethrower saying no one cares, and every other response starts with “I.”

    Betsy, God bless. Take your meds. Be well. It will pass. Most people only care about themselves, but don’t let that get to you. You don’t need the whole world to care, just one or two – and that’s counting a therapist you pay to care. Any more than that is gravy.

    • Maybe you’d like to go back and reread my last paragraph.

      Self-righteous much?

    • People have different ways of expressing concern and caring. And different ways of receiving it. No need to generalize.

    • Sorry, N, I could be wrong, but I’d be really surprised if this post was Betsy’s cry for help. She’s too smart to throw out a cry for help to this throng of waiting lovers. She’d have more ambulances and valium than she’d know what to do with.

      I don’t know Betsy, so I could be wrong. But wasn’t this a lot more fun and interesting and heartbreaking and “I know exactly how you feel” to read than if she had simply said “So, people, tell me about your process”. I think so.

      Man, that Betsy, she just KNOWS how to get us going.

    • N, Your comment made me think, and I do see your point. Betsy could post that she’s about to hang herself from a rusty pipe in the basement of the chinese restaurant around the corner, and we may well respond with “Ooh, what good writing prompt Betsy”.

      Who I am to think I know, or even guess at, Betsy’s state of mind as she creates her posts? I am no one, simply a reader who likes the way Betsy writes, and who enjoys being part of this conversation.

      Bottom line, most of blogdom is all about the I, and the comment itself is a way of showing care and concern. I care about you Betsy, please stay away from Courtyard Marriots.

  25. Goodness, Betsy. Should we worry?

    So my process is really simple. Fingers on the keyboard. Close my eyes. Go.

    Unless of course I don’t.

  26. What are you writing now? she asked.
    A story.
    Can I read it?
    When it’s finished. She sat in the room while I tappped away at the keys.
    Why did you drop out of school?
    I was a better writer than my teachers.
    Must have been a pretty bad school.
    What? Back in the day, The Close Cover Before Striking School of Fine Arts was one of the most visible in the country!
    Maybe they could have taught you the process, then.
    Yeah, maybe, but I wanted to see the world.
    You think you’ll ever sell anything?
    I don’t know. Hey, why don’t you come sit on my lap?
    You’re supposed to be writing!
    Just for a minute. Hey, you know it’s kind of warm in here; maybe we should take off a few layers.
    I don’t see how this will help.
    It’s all part of the process.
    You’re incorrigible!
    (Barry White voice): Oh, yeah.

  27. I write like I poop- there’s simply no choice in the matter.

    The process is similar- push push push it all out.

    Perhaps the writing is shit too- I’ll leave that comparison for others to make.

  28. Remember the hot need of becoming not-you, on the page. Leave the question-gloom behind and rise into some lovely and worse-off other.

    She’s you, too, and everyone, but don’t assign blame until the edit.

    All is cliche, but it’s the singular translation that make us want to read on. Take a trip, real or imagined, and try to enjoy the life passing by the window.

    (When “a character” gets too fucking sage, sprinkle the bastard on a pot roast and pop ‘im in the oven.)

  29. Great topic! I touched a bit on it in a guest blog post on Urban Muse Writer here http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/2011/03/guest-post-behing-writing-music.html

  30. Healing. Telling my truth. Maybe a hint of immortality. The memoir.

  31. I write, blog, status, write, write, write. And then listen to the deafening silence and conclude that everything I touch turns to futility. And then I write something good.

  32. Damn you Betsy. I should burn all my free writing rants trying to say what you just said. Hell, process anyone? My process is trying to convince myself I have something worthwhile saying before my next heart attack hits. The one that makes me look for a comfortable chair. I sit up at night with a half empty bottle of makers and let my pen vomit all over notebook pages. Mama, do you think they’ll like this song? Is it possible to have too much to say; and not a scant of ability to say it? Is that why I should have gone to school?

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