• 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.
  • Archives

Here’s What I Like About You

Here’s August, once again:

Eight things I like about publishing.

1)   1. My previous job was doing data entry for a title company. My immediate superior was my wife’s high school boyfriend.  His name was Cameron. He had a beautiful head of hair. This is better than that.

2)    2. Free meals in NYC. (Protip: the writer never pays. Make them feed you.)

3)    3. I hate women, but I hate men more.

4)    4. Last year I wrote off my membership to Joi Ryda’s website as ‘research’: http://tinyurl.com/6jel734

5)    5. People who don’t know better envy my job.

6)    6. A writer with psychosexual mother issues is a cliché, but a high school guidance counselor with psychosexual mother issues is a flight risk.

7)    7. There’s nothing else. What else is there? Nothing. The world doesn’t owe me a living? Fuck that. This isn’t a balance sheet. I don’t give a shit what I’m owed; I only care what I want.

8)    8. Bulk ordering Tylenol PM.

Sing me your love song to publishing.

66 Responses

  1. nope, i’m doing what i don’t love:
    1. it’s 12:46 a.m. and i’ve been working on the same thing all week now because i’m getting paid for it, not because it’s what i love to write.
    2. i don’t get paid as much for the stuff i want to write.
    3. when given the opportunity to write what i think i want to write, i don’t have a fucking clue how to do it.
    4. craig ferguson reminds me of my neighbor and is making it hard for me not to pay attention to him, and he’s not funny but i need background sound because my husband’s snoring makes me want to give up and go to bed.
    5. most of my life i believed there was some secret shroud around publishing that only let members who knew the secret handshake (handjob?) enter. turns out there’s no secret. you just fucking write and send your shit out. the hardest part is the writing.
    6. the hardest part is the writing.
    7. the hardest part is the writing.
    8. i don’t even like the word tonight–publishing–it sounds all mushy, like a week-old banana.

    • I’m proud of your restraint. My husband’s snoring makes me fantasize about stuffing a pillow on his face and sitting on it. My friend told me I could accomplish the same without the pillow if I gain a few pounds. That way I can tell the police I thought he was enjoying it.

    • Betsy should swap out my list for yours. And do a week-long series on your #3.

  2. Since I am still softly tapping, ever rapping at that door; frightened I will hear “Never More”…. I’m selecting Un Bel Di (Madama Butterfly) as my musical choice.

  3. Here, try this (I’m never confident these youse tube links will actually work until I post ’em):

  4. Publishing is a desert with a few oases. And a lot of odd but mostly likable nomadic types wandering around.

    • I have always been fascinated with the book publishing industry.

      Although “publishing” is always in a state of perpetual hyper-evolution, it seems that no matter how many mutations it undergoes,it survives.

      I especially like how publishing can be sleazy and amoral, yet still manage to cling tenaciously to its thin veneer of pseudo-respectability.

  5. I like August’s # 7. I’m tired of being told the world doesn’t owe me anything and nobody said it’d be fair and nobody promised me a rose garden, usually in a patronizing manner when I wasn’t even whining.

    It took me decades to stop grading my life with A’s, B’s, C’s, etc. Now that #7 has been pointed out to me I’m going to get myself off that balance sheet view of life.

  6. Love song, huh?

    In the words of Chad Kroeger:

    Well I’d rather start off slow
    This whole thing’s like some sort of race
    Instead of winning what I want
    I’m sitting here in second place

    Because somewhere the one
    I wanna be with’s with somebody else
    Oh god, I wanna be that someone that you’re with
    I wanna be that someone that you’re with
    And I can talk about it all day long
    ‘Til I run out of breath
    But I still wanna be that someone that you’re with
    I’ve got to be that someone that you’re with

  7. I love that you can stroll into a coworker’s cube and start talking about writing problems. Instead of staring blankly, they dispense good advice and/or bad jokes or chocolate. And the free books. I miss the free books.

  8. 1. It’s the only industry in which I’m willing to work my ass off for such a pitiful amount of money.
    2. Mostly people in publishing don’t eat their young.
    3. I like interacting with other smarty pants know-it-alls.
    4. There are plenty of other (snarky, curmudgeonly, foul-mouthed) people just like me.
    5. I went to nursing school, so writing/publishing is infinitely better than dealing with sick people’s body fluids.
    6. People actually think I’m cool when I tell them what I do.
    7. ditto August’s # 7
    8. My #2 & #3 are really similar to each other and why did I think I needed 8 things on my list, too? Sheesh… I’m such a lemming.

    • Your #5 sent me on a ten-minute search for a Jon Lovitz interview I saw maybe ten years ago. He worked at a nursing home. I don’t remember the whole thing, but one of the residents asks him, ‘Would you dab a little vaseline on my rectum?’

      And for the past ten years, it’s been pretty clear to me that -that- is my only alternative to -this-.

      • I volunteered at a nursing home; was assigned to The Third Floor where all the dementia patients lived. I spent enough time in that animated version of Bosch’s “Hell” to know there are far more horrible predicaments than writer’s block and disinterested agents.

      • Karen, you might wanna re-read Betsy’s de facto mission statement for this blog, conveniently located on the left side of the home page, under the title “Here’s The Story.”

      • Uh-oh– I’ve been called out for being too “big-picturesque”. Venting, hmm: having my op-ed piece stolen by a cranky should-be-retired columnist; monologue lost in the debate that only one actor on the planet can play the part; the never-ending cycle of queries; the diminishing balance in my bank account while I’m told again and again I have talent! Yep, that about sums it up.

        Still a better place than The Third Floor.

      • See? You’re a natural at the whole venting thing.

      • August,

        I’m curious about Mr. Lovitz’s specific objection regarding the elderly gentleman’s request. Did he say he balked because he didn’t want to perform such a task, or was it because he grew frustrated by patients issuing confusing requests?

        If Lovitz quit for the latter reason, he was foolish. It would have only taken himt a moment or two to calmly explain to his patient that, in all likelihood, what he was actually requesting was for Vaseline to be applied liberally to his sphincter.

        After all, the rectum is part of the alimentary canal, and although it is the terminal section of the intestine, it is still located in that no man’s land between the sigmoid flexure of the colon and the anus – a place, that few, if any people, would want Jon Lovitz’s jellied-fingers probing or poking around.

        After gaining the man’s confidence, Lovitz might have further explained that, while most folks think of the sphincter as being that little wrinkled rosette/ workhorse of a muscle that controls (via contraction or relaxation) the opening and closing of the asshole — technically speaking, the sphincter is any ring-shaped muscle that encircles an opening or passage in the body.

        You may think I’m talking shit, but I’m not.

        However, if Lovitz quit because he found the idea of smearing vaseline on elderly men’s assholes to be disgusting, I can understand that.

      • Ha! Wouldn’t it be ironic if one day Jon Lovitz and Joi Ryda married one another?

        This lubrication dilemma that Jon confronted earlier in his life would soon be rearing its ugly head very early on in this marriage.

        He’d find himself facing a big assed problem.

        Words he’d heard and forgotten long ago would return to him, and this time, they’d finally sink in:

        “The bigger the waistband, the deeper the quicksand.”

        There are worse ways to go.

  9. Doing data entry for a title company. Working for your wife’s ex. Who still had his hair.

    That, dear August, explains more about your worldview than anything you’ve ever written. I’d say you have come out of it with a downright sunny disposition.

    • He used to clap me on the shoulder when he passed, and he had these beautiful white teeth. Mine come straight from the shtetl. In the toothpaste aisle at the supermarket, I keep looking for a tube that promises to turn my teeth ‘eggshell,’ because ‘white’ requires too much suspension of disbelief.

  10. What publishing means to me:

    1. pub: my destination of choice.
    2. lish: gordon. Champion of many writers. Our own Tetman turned me on to him.
    3. ing: Dutch bank I once trusted my money to.

    Put it all together and you get me living in Holland as my literary editor offers me a lemon to go with my Hefe-Weizen.

  11. Back in the day when I was scouring writing books, searching for answers, I read in Bird by Bird something about how publishing is not all it’s cracked up to be. I thought to myself at the time, Oh that little ingrate. I would do anything, ANYTHING to be published and stay published. Turns out, I won’t, and Lamott is the master of understatement.

  12. Publishing, even just the short, zero-money stuff, has backed me into the insecure middle-schooler I once was: the queasy nerved girl with scabby knees and stringy hair and the wrong clothes wonders, will they like me? Will they like me enough to accept me into their fold? Can I be one of them?

    It’s a good thing the writing part is sublime or my knees would buckle.

  13. I keep trying to answer but am confusing publishing with writing. I hate that.

  14. How come I have a feeling if I click on that website in 4, I’ll be receiving enlarge my penis emails for a year?

    • I did, and now I’m pretty sure HR is going to be descending on my desk any minute and soon I’m going to be composing a comment about what I USED TO LIKE about publishing before I got fired for looking at pr0n on the job.

      But to answer the question, I’m good at stuff that has to do with words. So I might as well try my best to get paid for it, because I’m a crappy office manager.

    • I would never do that, Deb: those pills don’t work. And if you’re fired, Lisa, I promise I’ll pay for all your filthy website memberships for a year, with the exception of JDate.

      • August,

        Re: the pills.

        Ditto on those Swedish vacuum pumps.

        But at least they’re safe.

        Even if you’re using one while you’re driving to work, hoping against hope, that velocity will somehow aid in the suction’s effectiveness, and then, while you’re checking to see if your dick has gotten any bigger than it was the last time you checked five seconds ago, the unthinkable happens! Some brain-dead suburban fuckwit runs a green light without giving so much as a cursory glance your way. If he had, he would have seen that you were otherwise engaged, and the horrible accident could have been easily avoided.

        (In the incident above, everything was completely totalled — except for my still only-average-sized penis and that falsely-advertised, Swedish vacuum pump. Yes I’m glad Little Dave was saved. But I’m still grieving for the Big Dave who never was.)

  15. Smut publishing. It’s what I always dreamed of:

    1. I have a built-in friendship filter. Accept me, accept my filthy mind.
    2. When my co-worker annoys me, I can write her into an unspeakable situation and smile when I put a dab of aoili on her plate at the office Christmas party.
    3. I actually could write off Ms. Ryda’s website as research.
    4. Bulk ordering Trojans. (Another writeoff!)
    5. I have made my contribution to world peace. Or marital harmony. Or restless leg syndrome? (Surely there’s some redemption in here. Right?)
    6. Okay, fuck redemption. I’m a literary dominatrix, and people all over the world (there are only six people, but world domination takes time) are, um, playing along.
    7. Running out of steam, but like Linda I feel compelled to match August.
    8. I made my husband say, “You wanna do what?” And that’s worth the price of admission, considering the source.

    • I love your co-worker revenge strategy.

    • Averil,

      For three fun-packed years, in the late ’80s, I worked as an editor at Penthouse. While there, I discovered that the letters sections in each of the various spin-off publications (Forum, Variations, Hot Talk, etc.) were places where many of life’s karmic imbalances could be re-addressed.

      Some might crudely call these actions, “settling old scores,” but it wasn’t just about inserting the names of the guilty into awkward or embarrassing situations.

      An almost equally satisfying aspect of my work involved rewarding the righteous. Therefore, in each and every letters section that I edited, there would always be at least one couple who, while undergoing some sort of kerfuffle in their sex lives, would inevitably meet a handsome stranger named “Dave,” who was willing to insert himself into their lives and demonstrate what needed to be done.


      Averil, you mentioned your international clientele. I feel compelled to warn you of something.

      If one of your clients happens to be a middle-aged Pakistani businessman living in Toronto who is obsessed with “suckling upon ladyfeet,” you should jettison him immediately.

      If you don’t, he’ll get your phone numbers and hound you relentlessly, calling you at any time of day or night, 24/7. In an accent that you can’t stop yourself from imitating, he plead, beg, whine, and grovel: “Please, Mr. Dave, why you do not run more stories about suckling the ladyfeet.”

      After three years of this, I started thinking in his thick accent. I changed my number several times, but he always managed to find me. In 1989, I felt I had no choice but to quit my job at Penthouse, move to Paris, and live without a phone for the next nine months.

      To this day, I only rarely use the word, “suckle,” and I never say “ladyfeet.”

  16. August, just two days of you is not going to cut it. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to start your own blog.

  17. Generic doxylamine succinate works better. $4 Wal Mart

  18. Misery loves company?

    Publishing books, as writers who do it soon learn, is not nearly as fun as writing them. The endless marketing of your book — which the writer is expected to do and to finance — quickly erodes the pleasure of producing the manuscript you suddenly realize is merely one more of a bazillion competing for readers.

    My new book has been out 10 days. I loved writing it. Not loving hustling 24/7 on its behalf.

  19. Explain psycho-sexual mother issues in some sort of intelligent gist, and then explain what is Cliche. STET. ghee-whiz woman, I don’t know what to tell you. You have so much experience and yet you write so few books. What the fuck? Do you think everyone is better than you? Did someone cut your clit off? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, shouldn’t write things like that. Peace on earth good will towards men and all the rest. One of your best friends, Yikes! fans, asked me to tell you that. He’s caged, and often sends letters of love through me. It’s weird.

  20. PS. I’m sorry, I thought I was bouncing off Betsy, yummy. August. You obviously take this writing gig more seriously than you do your own life. yet, you rag on people that say I can’t help but write and all the other I’m not writing complaints. What is up with you, truly? And please don’t get me into a fighting sewing circle. Who are you? And what do write? Why are you an opinion about what should be written? Am I reading you wrong? How on earth can someone that has written nothing that they cannot brag about be a critic of writing? That was my bull-rush.

    • You’re using borrowed phrases that you don’t understand, but in your world it stands as a good insult. We go on, despite it, for the spite of it. My hope is that you don’t take offense. I’ll quit buggin’ on this blog. Promise.

  21. OK, one more—why are you so hateful? Pissy, drooling panty, or something, Why are you so hateful?

    • You really need to get a grip, or your meds recalibrated. August is easy to understand when you realize he goes for the outrageous. Get that and go with the flow. It ain’t what you think it is. To fulminate, aggravate, postulate and concentrate on his opining is simply to swallow a pig when a mouse would do. Digest what he says with a tablespoon of Musilex. It makes it easy to pass.

  22. Most of the male commenters here need to become monks for one year. High up in a cave, eating thistles or something.

    • I’m not falling for THAT one again, Josephine.

      I remember the last time you sent me on one of your “cave vacations.”

      After a seemingly neverending climb, I finally reached the cave, exhausted, just No as the sun was setting, and guess what?


      No nothing, really.

      Just some ribald grafitti that had been scrawled on the walls by Jeff and August.

    • Oops. My mistake.

      I’m sorry, Josephine, I just realized that you were speaking euphemistically..

      I’m presently “otherwise engaged,” but if you’re seriously seeking males to enter your “cave,” I’ll bet that you’d find more takers at Craigslist than here.

      If I were you, I’d leave out the bit about the “thistles.” Your gentlemen callers will discover soon enough that you don’t like to shave down there.

      The same goes for the year-long commitment idea. First, you’ve gotta get them into the showroom, THEN you can try to lease them the car.

      Good luck.

      • I’d been drinking thistle martinis all night long when I wrote that … nice work.

      • Thanks, JC! I was hoping that you would understand that I was just mucking about. And you did!

        By the way: “The Thistle Martini” does exist. I googled it and found it on the Stolichnaya website.
        It is made with: Cointreau, Cynar, Orange Juice, and (Stolichnaya) Vodka.

  23. @The Old School:

    I once invented a martini, which I called the Librarian Martini. It was in honor of my librarian main character in “The Dewey Decimal System of Love.”

    Needless to say, it never took the bar scene by storm. It made me kinda sick. I’m old school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: