• 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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Think I’ll Buy Me A Football Team

The envelope from Penguin arrived today with the light blue sleeve. Royalties! Writing is great and all, but there is nothing like a royalty check to make the heart go thump. I can not tell you how gratifying it is to know that some number of persons found my book, stood in a line at a cashier or clicked through, and brought it home and left it on a side table, a shelf, the can. Thank you so much!  I am in a good mood, dear readers! I’m going to use the money to pay for my daughter’s camp, not the jewels and blow of yesteryear, but still.

Do you write for money? August?

62 Responses

  1. Money = validation (unless you’re high and mighty like Salinger). Plus I’d rather be paid to write than paid to do anything else.

    • Well said. I’ve done enough shit jobs over the years for money that it would be nice to get paid for doing something I like.

  2. I bought four copies in the past couple of months as gifts, so count $1.26 of that from me!

    Don’t tell me I never got you anything.

  3. I write for joy, satisfaction, escape, masochism, and yes, money.

  4. I’m working on it.

  5. Moi aussi….that is, I bought a copy!

    I write for money, and I write because I’m good at it.

    At the advanced age of 58, I’m becoming clear about some things…one of ’em:

    Do What You’re Good At

    (Like Betsy yesterday, saying she was the right character to be an agent…..)

  6. I’m with Phil: the money is validation to me. Anyone will say they like something when they don’t really, but fewer people will pay for something they don’t really like. If an editor thinks my work is worth cutting a check, I’m cool with that.

  7. Is there any other reason? If you’re a history buff, you know writing has changed nothing but excuses. I hope you one day end up with more money than you know what to do with, Betsy. That will be a good day, even for me. Penguin. Yummy. (Not to be too obnoxious but August needs to go back to the rock, he or she, crawled out from under and contemplate the dirt, he or she, is eating.) I have other expletives to use but apparently I’m offending some of your fans. Interestingly enough, my girlfriend and I just had an argument over money, imagine that, and I think I might have grown up a little just from engaging with this blog—I didn’t argue. I work my ass off. She’s lucky as hell her mom was a penny pincher and left her enough to pay her way. Unbelievable. People—go figure. Betsy! Royalty! Yes, in deed.

  8. When anybody gives me money for my writing, then I have written for money.

  9. At this point, I’m doing just about anything for money.

  10. I read a blog post today by a writer who said she no longer opens, at least not immediately, those blue-tinged envelopes with royalty info. Give me a fucking break.

    • She obviously needs my skills in mail room management (I’m guessing the maids and her PA can’t be trusted…). Where do I send my resume?

    • I still open my pay stubs from my day job even though they are not even checks -they direct deposit – and the amount never (and I mean EVER) changes.

      I don’t believe that writer, not one bit.

  11. As a working journalist, yes, paid money for writing.
    As a working journalist, writing for money? Ha.
    Certainly there are happier ways to make a living than the stressful urgency of a daily deadline, the never-ending neurosis of worrying if you got everything as right as you could and the outright fear of a blank page.
    Royalties well deserved, Betsy,, for the gentle guiding light of your “editor’s advice to writers,” for wisdoms disguised as Capote-isms, for the endless inspirations, for correctly nailing the writer’s neurotic behavior as a necessary component of his arsenal and for doing it all in a sensitive and truthful way. Cha-ching.

  12. I’ve been writing for money for years — journalism, marketing, business writing — and it paid the bills and kept me in shoes. But if I ever get a royalty check because someone bought my novel, THAT would be a supremely good day. And you bet your sweet ass I’d open that blue-tinged envelope and cash it.

  13. I do write for money. Constantly. Today, I made $500 quick ones coming up for alternate bag copy for a comeback brand of Crispy Onions. And then, I wrote about furniture and sandals.

    I do this so I can splurge on kickboxing and massage groupons. And, of course, so after Mr. Crispy Onions is finally satisfied, I can return to my princess and the 19th century, before the invention of Crispy Onions. When people still ate real food. Like haggis.

    Ah, but there is nothing like a check that arrives in the mail! The bluish window of the envelope. the crisp, legible name and address. The feeling brings a jolt to my heart, same as when I’d get a love note from my boyfriend, the first glance of backwards slanted cursive writing. The promise, the romance, the acknowledgment.

    • Yes, yes and yes. There is nothing that can compare to that sensation of REAL mail–and if it’s a check, even better. When courtship happens over email, do we print those choppy, unformatted tidbits out and bind them with a ribbon like we did our mailed love letters? I suppose we could, but it’s not the same. God, do I sound old and mildewed, or what?

      • …and love texts! what do you do with those? Will we be a bunch of elderly, tattooed residents in nursing homes scrolling through our devices for evidence of having lived a life?

      • I’ve modified a tie tack to display small sections of rejection letters impaled on the pin. I wear it proudly to our local RWA meetings. My writer-friends think it’s a hoot. I figure: why not celebrate the process?
        Whaddya think – the next Pet Rock? PS:I’ve started the copyright process…

    • mmm… haggis… with a side of neeps and tatties and a wee dram of the water of life… yes…

  14. I wish I could do things for money. Money—just enough—always seems to come when I need it, but as soon as I think about doing something for money, I get all kinds of resistant. Weird karma. I’ve always been this way.

  15. “None but a blockhead ever wrote, but for money.”
    — Samuel Johnson

  16. So wait, some of you get paid to do this?
    Huh.

    (Well deserved, Betsy.)

  17. The stuff I write for love = no money, ever
    The stuff I write for money = I quit b/c it made me want to shrivel up and die

    So the short answer is, no.

  18. My most profitable “writing” to date was an application for a construction grant that netted my client $7million. Beyond that day-job stuff, I am toiling in the land of queries where any responding envelopes hold nothing close to a royalty check. I remain hopeful and stubborn and focused that one day, the envelope situation will change.

    Glad to know that there is another household where The Bank of Mom invests in the important stuff: the children. After all – how many Rolex watches can one comfortably wear ?

  19. Yes yes yes.

    Camp. So sweet.

    ❤ "the jewels and blow of yesteryear"

  20. I do! And I got my first review from someone who doesn’t know me and has not been coerced into reading my book; she chose it, paid for it, fell into the world I made for her and liked it there. The lonely arc is a circle now.

    Your book is on my nightstand, Betsy. I took it to Oregon last year and pressed a wildflower between pages 60-61, where you explain me to myself. The second paragraph is smudged, stamen yellow, and the pages fall open like a devotional to the chapter about rejection. I read it as though we’re exchanging confidences, as though you had written me a very long letter full of admonishments and encouragement. You don’t know me, but I feel reassuringly understood. You’re Roberta Flack, strumming my fate.

    Thank you.

    • That was a pretty paragraph, Averil Dean.

    • Oh, Averil, the air must smell so sweet in your world.

      My copy lives on one of the stacks of books next to the bed, sometimes on the floor with the dustbunnies and cat hair, sometimes on the bedstand. Clementine the cat spilled my water glass a couple of months ago, so the pages are all warped and wrinkly, (I put the book in with a batch of cookies to dry it out) but depending on where I am – rejection, the book – it stays open on its own, for the spine is exhausted by my obsessive re-reading.

      • Actually, the air smells like Easy-Off, and my route to work is crawling with hookers and hollow-eyed vagrants who always manage to guilt me out of my PB&J.

        I love that Betsy’s book went in with the cookies. Please tell me they were snickerdoodles and that you get whiff every time you turn a crinkled page.

      • Chocolate chip, and yes. It smelled really good for a little while.

        My son left his science notebook out in the rain and I dried it out while I roasted beef bones for stock, and it did not smell quite as enticing.

        But then, how could the Krebs cycle EVER smell as good as Betsy?

  21. Yes but I don’t expect to make a lot. The validation of my hard work is enough.

  22. Yes!! After the pale glory of short story publication and a non-paying ex I wrote The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Italy for a laugh (UK publication this summer). If you’re too literary it would be fine for a cheeky sister-in-law best, cat

  23. I would gladly write for money if someone would give me some. Hope springs eternal.

  24. I was offered, once, but it would have meant I had to sell my soul to the devil. Some things are worth more than money, dignity being a big one.

    • I just read The Devil and Tom Walker to my students. I like the idea that a tree falls over, charred, when the devil finally gets his due.

  25. To date, I’ve been busting my ass making money in order to write (and feed/shoe/house the kids etc). Your way sounds better somehow.

  26. Of course I write for money. I’m writing this to tell you to send me your royalty check instead of using it to send your daughter to camp. Who needs it more?

  27. Years ago, in that wonderful “My Friends” series by Jane Duncan (somewhat dated now, but still worth reading) her uncle told her, “Dinna gie it away, lassie,” or Scottish words to that effect, and I thought that made a lot of sense. I always start with the paying markets, which is not to say that I end up with a check. (I’ve stopped falling for the “We don’t pay, but you’ll get your name out there” scam, though. Hunh.)

    I’ve always liked the thought of royalty checks. Lots of the books I read have characters with royalty checks coming in, and they always treat their friends to a drink at the pub to celebrate.

    • “Dinna gie it away, lassie”—I should have that tattooed, backwards, on my forehead.

  28. I write for the freedom to purchase Buffalo wings with a wad of two-dollar bills.

  29. How about the Chicago Bliss?

  30. “Success is checks in the mail.”
    – Somerset Maugham

  31. I just received my biggest writing payday ever – I sold an article and the art to go along with it. I made – brace yourselves – HIGH THREE FIGURES, and you better believe I celebrated over every last cent.

    And then my car failed inspection…and every last cent went to the new tires. But it was fun while it lasted.

  32. I’ve written and researched for money. I toil for love.

  33. Congratulations Betsy! Don’t blow it all on summer camp. Oh ha ha ha!

    Re your question: I have only this to say — James Franco! Call me! I am very organized, funny, good at writing movies and excellent at improv. Also I will groom your cats for free!

  34. p.s. A caveat: I will not groom your cats with my own tongue, however, James Franco. I will be employing a stunt tongue.

  35. Yes, I write every day for money, but not always the kind of writing that floats my goat.

  36. Considering the cost of summer camp, congratulations. The nearby B&N went from stocking none-to one copies of FFTT, to keeping a few in store.

  37. I write for love.

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