• 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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I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust cause I damn sure don’t trust Myself

This is who I want to play me.

All along, I’ve thought that I was basing my main character on someone I know, or certain aspects of someone I know, or an amalgam of qualities that have always fascinated me. I thought his love interest was based on someone like me. But today, writing, I realized that the main character is me. And the love interest is me. And the daughter is me. ANd the son is a little like me. And then I imagined myself conducting an orchestra of people who all look like me, and a forest where I was all the trees, and a beach where every grain of sand was me.

Is your main character about me? If not, who?

48 Responses

  1. Oh jesus, you sound just like my therapist talking about dreams.

  2. Me, of course, in my brand new leopard skin pillbox hat.

  3. I shouldn’t try to type on this tiny screen after drinking red wine, especially while listening to vintage Dylan.

  4. Well, that’s sort of freeing. If I’m worried about my writing being about other people, and upsetting them, if it is really all about me, that shouldn’t be an issue.

  5. I love this. Under the humor, how honest. How all of us.

  6. Yes, my main character is you. How’s that for a query letter?

  7. All you. Who else?

  8. i could name the woman betsy. i really could. it would fit. hmmm. she’s blond and addicted to cocaine. if i give her doc martens, she’d be you.

  9. Flaubert said, “I am Madame Bovary!” because that’s the only way it works. You have to be them all.

  10. You made me guffaw. Sure, right, okay. My main character is totally about you. You’re tall and rawboned with skin the color of maple bark. You have eyes that are dark like the night and your hair is nappy and as black as crow feathers. And you’re eleven. Before you get in the tub, you stand in front of the full-length mirror to see if there’s any progress in the development department. The school nurse said the first things you’d notice would be breast buds, but when you feel around real good, there’s nothing–plain flat.

  11. Me is the prism through which all communication is transmitted. Each one of us is a mobile communication device, constantly searching for signal. Our attention spans are filtering operations, pyramiding, triangulating, inverting hierarchies, casting then narrowing, winnowing away, then casting about anew. Millennia ago, it was scanning plains and jungles and forests. Today, the internets, FB, Twitter, TV, traffic reports.

    So, “a beach where every grain of sand was me” is quite profoundly Zen in this context. One can be forgiven for feeling this context. Most should be encouraged to conceptualize in that context. One could do worse. Feeling all the characters of your novel, or short story, or poem, in that context? Yeah, I’d say, go ahead, do that, be that, live that. Internalize beingness, and humanity, and every universal element you can grasp with whatever power of existence you can sense, articulate, even if only with yourself. Yeah, I’ll buy that.

    -Eric Vincent

  12. I got nothing. Just wanted to say hello. I have missed you and all the wacky people who hang out here at Chez Betsy.
    My book came out 9/27. Some hate it, some love it and some are meh. I drove 7 hours for a book signing this weekend and one person came to see me and buy a book. I kind of wanted to marry her. Ended up buying 5 copies of the book because I felt bad for the bookstore. Yes, even in my lameness, I am lame.

    I admit, I kind of like the idea of walking on the beach and seeing eleventy million grains of Betsy.

    • Congrats on the book release! If you haven’t looked into this, the Women’s National Book Association launches National Reading Group activities in October – most chapters include “meet the author” events. If this is your demographic, and if there is a chapter in your area, it could be an easy way to promote your book.

    • How are we supposed to check it out if there’s no link from your name?

      And you’re not lame. I love the fact that you bought copies from the bookstore. Kindness is never overrated.

  13. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my main character is me. What’s going to get me into trouble is the fact that her kids are my kids, her husband is my husband and – you get the picture.

  14. I LOVE the idea of conducting an orchestra of multiple me’s. (Do you use an apostrophe for that kind of plural? You won’t catch me writing “avocado’s” but other words trip me up a little).

    ANYway, this post reminded me of something I read in Brenda Ueland’s cheering guide for neurotic writers. Enjoy:

    “I have so often been troubled by my own stories, especially those I wanted to be particularly pure Art, earnest and uncompromising. All the characters in them (except the villain) would seem to be ME and it might be read like this:

    “‘I love you, ‘ said Brenda Ueland to Brenda Ueland.

    “‘I love you too,’ Brenda answered shyly, with sincere look in her fine, strong face.

    “I read many stories in magazines like that. The author need not be hopelessly conceited ass either, but is often quite nice.”


    If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit By Brenda Ueland

  15. All my writings are classified as revisionist history. “This happened to me, but wouldn’t it be neat if it happened like this?”

    • My granddaughter, like so many other elementary school students, was assigned to write in a journal at school each day. Her mother, after reading several entries that were great adventures but absolute fabrications, said, “Kennedy, these things aren’t true!” To which Kennedy replied, “I know. My day was boring, so I wrote something I wished would happen.” She inspired my, “What I Wish My Day Was Like,” journal.

      She is sixteen now, a junior in high school, and still a bundle of creative energy. I’d love to share your post with her, with your permission.

      • How cute … the comment from your granddaughter. I love it!

      • With joy. I throw stuff out in public forums knowing it may bring my downfall, but this is sweet. I put it in quotes cuz I borrowed it from someone who won a literature prize from the Chicago Tribune if you feel the need to atttribute. I don’t remember her name. But she won for her first fiction outing.

  16. My main character starts out as who I used to be, then turns into the person I wish I was.

  17. Oh, this made me laugh. Yes, my main character is me. Not you. I s’pose the real concern is when the dog character is one of us, though. Or not. Perhaps that’s the ultimate compliment.

  18. I thought about this for a moment – nah! yes? But nope, in some stories he or she has aspects of the splintered moi, but then thank god the ground comes up fast and there is another, closer world to be peopled.

    I love doing the peopling, others are so much trickier.

  19. Hmmm, how interesting, say more about that …

  20. Used to be me. Now it’s persons I think about. Though one is me.

  21. The one main character is definitely not me. The other MC was me, and it took away from what the story was supposed to be doing. I scrapped her.
    Now heading into the ending, I see who she is, how she fits and have to go back to put her in. Interestingly for me, this time she’s not me.

    I had to get far enough from her, as me, to see who she really was. She as me was two dimensional at best. Now with some space and time, she has her own life.

    And now after writing that, my two-dimensional brain aches.

  22. Two main characters, one me and the other someone I didn’t think I liked but who had a major impact on my life. That changed and I’m still trying to understand why.

  23. All my characters are me—if I were that person in those circumstances. I haven’t decided whether this makes me a hack writer unable to reach further or I’m just honest and self-aware.

  24. Creative writers are world-makers. So, yes, even the trees and the grains of sand in our made worlds are parts of us. Every created work is a portrait of some aspect of its creator, some choice of what’s contextually important.

    The worlds we make are grounded in the worlds in which we live. We do not create, and cannot create, ex nihilo. As for the persons with which we populate our worlds, every instance of humanity is instantiate in every other instance. We’re all enough alike that with sufficient imagination we can apprehend the similarities, understanding them and recasting them as traits of our created characters.

    Every character in your story is some part of you and is some part of your readers. That’s how it works, how reflections and refractions of our common humanity serve in the telling of stories. Creative writers who cannot envision the full panoply of human behavior, both in other persons and more crucially within themselves, and accept the shared commonality of what they are seeing, are writers whose characters may suffer from lack of even implicit depth and complexity.

  25. My characters are Frankensteinian bastard children of my observations of the human race. Only one aspect of one character is me. I wrote her when my daughter was being tested for nasty things and I was afraid I might lose her, but I couldn’t tell anyone because my lot in life is to be ever optimistic and if I was to say otherwise the world would have fallen off its axis and rolled away. My character on the other hand could wail and worry and beat herself over some perceived wrong she committed.

  26. I don’t know if my characters are me, or the mes I want to be . . .

    Most of ’em are way cooler, though. Especially the evil ones.

  27. Yeah, the danger when creating characters is engendering X number of them (or every one of them) with bits and pieces or whole cloths of your own darn self. Referred by some (okay, by me) as the dreaded IT’S ALL ABOUT ME SYNDROME. Should be avoided but it’s a sneaky sucker, comes upon stealthy little tip-toes. Hard to avoid, highly infectious, and only a shot of self-awareness and a sharp editorial scalpel can cure. Though the cure may be worse than the illness.

  28. Here on the memoir boat, it’s more like, “Aw shit, that’s not really me, is it?”

  29. My main character was never me–but I think I am becoming her.

    After a bit of a break, I recently reread my last draft. Not only have I taken on some of her personality traits, but I’m having some of the same experiences–little flukey things that might strike me as amusing if the whole thing wasn’t kinda creepy.

    Anyway, now I’m thinking I need a really, really happy ending.

  30. Who it has always been about.

    • even funnier that it’s on a Mitsu; maybe there is already one on a Porche, with the correct spelling of “me”

  31. My books are all about August, whom I imagine as Joe Manganiello with a Cajun accent and a pair of velvet handcuffs in the back pocket of his 501s.


  32. @Gail — Thank you! She is a prize.

    @Virginia — Thank you! I think I’ll be seeing her tomorrow. Can’t wait to tell her!

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