• 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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We Can Take Forever Just a Minute At a TIme

People always ask how many clients I have. Fifty-nine. Okay? Is that a lot? A little? Or just right? Fifty-nine, but they’re not all active. No, not sexually active. They’re not all writing. Some wrote one book and that’s all she wrote. Some take years on a single book. Some are AWOL. And by that I mean they’ve stopped responding to emails and phone calls. Some have been seduced by industry or Hollywood. Some are stuck. Some depressed. SOme have stage fright. Some lick their wounds and come back fighting. Some reinvent themselves. Some reliably deliver a book every 18 months. And some go crying wee wee wee home.

Who are you?

68 Responses

  1. This is kind of amazing information. I thought authors were expected to produce 2-3 books a year or agents dropped them. You’re remarkably understanding.

  2. I’m a slow writer…so far published every four years…next one should see daylight in three, so maybe I’m getting the hang of it. No plans to quit or go AWOL, just poky.

  3. Disappointed I am not your client. I’m a writer who has no problem continuing to write one day at a time no matter what.

  4. 1: Can you sell a screenplay?
    2: Here’s my novel, I know the ending is all wrong. No rush on reading it, I’ve got other projects.
    3: Enclosed is that graphic novel script I never told you about.
    4: Did you get a chance to read my novel yet?
    5: These are the first five chapters of an experimental novel that combines elements of Bolano and cadmium. Let me know!
    5: Any word on my novel?
    6: Is YA still hot? I was sitting around the other day and accidentally wrote the attached 72,000 word story about a Jewish high school girl who falls in love with a golem.
    7: I don’t mean to rush you on the novel, but enclosed find a list of 27 editors that a friend put together for me. I have such zany friends!
    8: If I need to pick up a gig writing jacket copy, can you help with that?
    9: So I wrote picture book series. Here are the first six.
    10: It’s been three weeks since I asked if you can sell a screenplay. Still hoping to hear back!

  5. >>Who are you?<<

    In my wildest dreams, your next big award winner. You don't have any clients who've won the Pulitzer or Nobel, do you?

  6. In order of your list: single book, stuck, depressed, licking wounds, hopefully still fighting, definitely crying wee wee wee. I’m versatile like that.

    • Did you say “versatile?” Perfect!

      I am proud and honored to hereby nominate Shanna Mahin for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ll be sending you the cute little image file and rules for membership by email shortly. It’s kinda like a chain letter, only more prestigious.

      Okay, that’s one down, four to go . . .

  7. What kind of client do you like? Because that is the type of client I would be!

  8. I’m the orange gummy bear. Definitely the orange.

  9. I’m so stuck on the “stopped responding to emails and phone calls” part of your paragraph I don’t know what to say.

  10. “Who are you?”

    I am Tetman Callis.
    I am not one of your fifty-nine.
    I am sexually active, but only with my wife.
    I have written more than one book.
    I have had less than one book published.
    I have spent years on a single book, if years were what a single book took.
    I rarely go AWOL anymore, though I have spent years AWOL when younger.
    I respond; I am always open for business.
    I have not been seduced by industry or Hollywood (though it’s not been for want of wantonness).
    I’m rarely stuck for any length of time.
    I am often depressed.
    I do not have stage fright.
    I lick my wounds until they turn into ulcers and then I write about their suppuratings.
    Tetman Callis is my name, but it is not what my parents named me.
    I write every day and finish what I finish when it’s finished.
    I went crying wee wee wee home and had neither the foresight nor the courage to kill myself.
    And that is who I am.

  11. Who the hell am I? That’s my question, thank you very much, and as soon as I find out the answer, I’ll let you know. Until then I’m the anonymous writing accountant, which many people think is an oxymoron, because everyone knows accountants can’t write, and writers can’t count. And yet I do! I do it anyway! I’m the client who wants to make my agent proud of me and make them some money, because otherwise what use am I?

  12. I am pineapple and self-reliant.

  13. I’m the kind of person who thinks it’s rude to ask someone how many clients they have. I don’t know if that’s a Midwestern thing or just a weird thing I picked up from my family. It would be like asking someone how much money they make which is fun to speculate about in private, but should never be addressed directly.

    • It’s a weird Midwestern thing you picked up from your family. I know, because I also have weird Midwestern things. I picked them up from my family. We could have grown up on the same street, you and I.

  14. I’m me.

    ‘S all I got.

  15. I had an agent contact me for a story once. She wanted a book and I didn’t have one. I went back to Africa and worked in a bar.

  16. I’ve got a good work ethic and I scrub toilets.

  17. Cherry ripe, cherry ripe, ripe I cry, full and fair ones, come and buy. Take me on, Betsy. Find out how ripe and hard working an English girl can be.

  18. I am reliable, ambitious, the one who looked up “suppuratings” (thanks, Tetman).

  19. I’m the one taking years, but aspire to be the one who reliably delivers a book every 18 months.

  20. Like a kid on a bike, I throw papers at about the same time and place. When it comes to nonfiction, though, I sometimes run into a lost tribe out there in the wilderness.

  21. I’m a daruma doll.

  22. I am sitting down to write.

  23. A one-eyed man in a tunnel.

  24. Oh, god. Lick my wounds, Chumbawumba, keep on trying. That’s me. Haven’t published yet.

  25. I’ve always been the required flavor.

  26. Stage fright/ lick my wounds, pick myself up and periodically dive back into the lava kind of guy.

  27. I’m Thursday’s child: accepting that “far to go” fate. But in a positive way, of course, due to that Leo influence.

  28. About those 59 clients. In the Rolodex of your heart:

    Strictly alphabetized?

    Or prioritized with little color-coded post-its? And what’s the criteria?

    Because I’ll do whatever it takes to be the one with the gold star.

  29. Could you answer this next week: What do you do with them all? Or rather how do you manage them differently —- the depressed or lost or stage-frightened, the one-book-genius who can’t put pen to paper again, the one who tries to reinvent herself, the workhorse who pumps out a publishable book every 18 months?

  30. I lick my wounds in public and only go wee wee in private

  31. Who am I.. the proverbial emotional roller coaster….on any given day, think, maybe I’m “the one” agents dream about, “a natural”, and the next, I’m thinking I’m less than the dog shit stuck on your shoe. All I know is I’m on this damn PC everyday, like it’s crack cocaine. And I love it like . I’m discouraged and I haven’t even tried yet. Sucks, really. Is anyone even reading this?

  32. I am the writer who hasn’t been writing, now running out of excuses post holiday. Instead I sit and read, a wall flower, grazing on your words…but I could go for some gummy bears too.

  33. Thanks for the invite, but I feel funny talking about myself today.

  34. I am It, That, This, Somewhat Him and a little bit Her.
    I am Some, All, and Never Enough.
    I am Happy, Sane, Thoughtful, Generous and Good, and All Their Opposites.
    I am, apart from the details, the same as You.

  35. If I had an agent —> publisher pipeline, I’d be cranking books out every couple of years or less. I’m a really diligent writer who loves working, especially when there’s a paycheck involved.

  36. I’m the fruity bubblegum gummy bear with the half finished manuscript under my bed and another under the rabbit cage. Right now blogging is fine with me, although there is a funny manuscript out there that is calling my name…

  37. Who are you?

    The guy re-reading The Forest Through the Trees. The book feels much more encouraging than the blog.

    • I just read the book too. (for the first time actually.) It lived up to my expectations…and it’s a definite re-read in my future. I especially liked the chapters that dealt with what writers, agents, editors, publishers want.

    • You might want to re-read the title, too: The Forest FOR the Trees. 😉

      On the blog, Betsy lets it rip and we love her for it. Shoot, it even has typos sometimes. It may not be as “encouraging,” but many of us simply cannot live without it. Stick around and you’ll see.

      • Haha – when I read that I thought you meant me and I was like…”whaaa?” then I saw Jake’s comment with the wrong name for Betsy’s book.

  38. Who am I? You really want to know? I’m the writer who sold 34 romance novels to Harlequin without an agent (probably a mistake) but now needs an agent for a light-hearted non-fiction book about all the fun she’s been having and is still having living in funky foreign countries. But she’s been told Americans don’t want to read about places they don’t (want to) go to on vacation.

    That’s me, living agentlessly in Moldova. Yes, it’s a real country.

  39. I’m the guy who can’t stop no matter how hard he tries. I don’t know why I’m answering this stupid question either.

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