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    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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You Are The Song That The Morning Brings

Do you have to be a selfish bastard to be a writer? Take no prisoners? No apologies, no excuses. GIve up your good citizen badge. Insist on your time alone, your writing retreats, your get out of jail free card, jail being every fucking family function, dinner party, and pot luck or bake sale at your kid’s school. Every time someone tells me how nice and helpful I am, I want to hang myself. Yes, that was me baking three dozen chocolate chip cookies last night. Yes, that was me chatting amicably in the parking lot. Me talking to my mother’s bridge lady’s daughter’s husband about his book on adult circumcision.

What takes you away from your writing?

58 Responses

  1. Hahahhahahaahhahaaahahhahahahahahhaahahahahaahhahahahaahahahahhahahaha.
    Yeah right.

    I have a friend who has a great strategy whenever he’s asked to make the coffee.
    He achieves a certain level of excellence in the making of it.
    By adding pinches of salt, dirt, perhaps a piece of spider web or even a hint of tabasco sauce.
    I’m not even gonna tell you what he uses for milk.
    Nobody ever asks him to make coffee again.

    So, take it upon thyself to follow this great man’s example, venture ye forth, each one, unto all family and other time wasting occasions, and forge ye a path to freedom with thou foulest of behaviours.

    It worked for me. Of course, I did end up divorced from that nut-melting dragon, sorry, my beautiful wife, but hey, sometimes ya just gotta take the great with the good.

  2. I don’t think you have to be a selfish bastard to do much of anything, except to be a selfish bastard, and then I guess it’s a requirement.

    Lots of things take me away from writing, but I get something from most of them. The most recent example is a four day trip down a river through the middle of nowhere without so much as a pencil: no music, TV, computer, simple food under bright stars, sleeping on sand bars, and a chance meeting with a couple of oystermen who shared cold beers and offered dirty whores if I was interested.

    But it took me away from writing.

    • right on brother

    • Yes, Frank. Yes yes yes.

      Besides, being generous doesn’t take me away from writing. Doing stupid shit takes me away from writing, and that’s a whole other problem.

    • Frank,
      That four-day trip sounds better than anything I can imagine right now. Life makes the story worth it.

    • You’re so wise, Frank. Tell us, do you travel alone? My beloved has his heart set on this life. The only sticking point is me. I’d rather be on ground. Perhaps if I mention the possibility of dirty whores he’ll be less inclined to want me.

      • Thank you, Mac, but it’s Lola who is wise. I’m just the blind hog who finds an acorn now and then. A fortunate hog, too.

        Sometimes I travel alone, but often with Lola. This trip was with a friend who built the boat in Washington, then brought it from California to Florida. Today the three of us are off to Cedar Key, looking for acorns, I guess.

        I don’t know your beloved, but it’s a safe bet that he’s not going to be less inclined to want you, Mac. I’m just sayin’, you know?

    • It’s good to clear the mind and nourish the soul. You do that well, Frank.

    • Frank, you are one of the most decent persons I virtually know. There’s a lot to be learned from reading your comments.

  3. I can’t get away from it. Ever. It’s in my blood and brains. Shopping maybe, the great time and money waster. I hate my friends. I hate my family more. I hate going outside, eating, fucking. Sleeping is only OK sometimes because I dream stories and words and songs and movies.

    I hate working for money, unless I’m teaching writing, which I love. I like drinking. It slows down the chaos a bit. But the older I get, the more I need.

  4. “What takes you away from your writing?”

    Nothing takes me away from my writing. I take me away from my writing, and I am not a thing. I am a selfish bastard.

  5. Well, you can’t do everything. If you’re a woman over 30, the world’s going to want you to do all the things no one else wants to do: bathe dogs, tutor the elderly, grow your own organic eggplant, scrapbook, depilitate. Saying no is the first step to making some freeking space. Do it!

  6. What takes me away from writing?
    Well Betsy…that I have to actually make a living because I didn’t write about wizards, vampires, hunger, or shades of black and white mixed together. I wrote about a lonely young woman who packs her pillowcase luggage and heads west. No one wants to know about her misery, her sense of humor, her bravery, how beautiful she is or the circumstances of her past or about the wonders she finds when her life is transformed. That her story has a huge commercial tie in is beyond their interest. I have to walk away from writing and kiss ass every day because the story I was told would transform my life, I can’t get anyone in traditional publishing to read.
    I’m not the fucking bastard, I’m the writer. And tonight I’m tired, tired of trying, tired of believing, tired of dreaming. Just plain fucking tired.

    • Damn, Wry, I want to read about her. Get some rest and wake up dreaming.

      • Thanks Frank. I had a good snooze. Still dreaming.
        Vera is amazing, I think you’d like her. She’s a woman not afraid to sleep on a sandbar.
        Sounds like you had a great time. It good to leave your pencils at home sometimes.

  7. Well, tonight I was all set to start writing on the One Thing I need to write a whole hour earlier than I usually do, as the kids were plugged into a tv special I’d recorded for them specifically for this purpose, my husband was teaching a late class, and my MIL was in her apartment watching baseball.

    I had just fired up the laptop when a friend called—she was stranded at work with a dead car. I asked my MIL to come up and watch the kids and sallied forth to pick her up and drop her at the nearest car rental place. But the only car rental place open was all the way out at the airport. She grabbed the last unreserved car–the only luck of the whole episdoe–and since she’s relatively new to the area and the rental doesn’t have GPS, I led her back over the river to the point where she could find her way home.

    Then I went home, put the kids to bed, and sat down with just enough time to post this comment before I start writing at my usual time. Oh, well.

    . . . Except my husband just gave me That Look, dammit . . .

  8. For some reason I make myself do crazy, ridiculously time consuming things that take me away from writing. Like insisting on making my kids’ birthday cakes every year. From scratch. With a theme. In 3-D. But without things like that, I’d have nothing to write about. (On the to-do list: a short story about a particularly ugly Krabby Patty cake that ended up in the garbage.)

    • Ha! mtowbin, you are living my life. What is with the cake obsession? I could buy one, I could throw a mix in a pan. But no, a week ago I was out late at night to hunt down a Giant Cupcake tin because I got in in my head that my daughter needed that for her birthday. I am unstoppable once a vision of the cake is in my head. At two in the morning I was up putting Mike and Ike’s all over the frosting to look like sprinkles.
      The obsession with making my kids’ birthday cakes might be a book that would actually sell. And therein lies the irony…

      • I may ask to borrow that pan sometime, Lyra!

        And if you ever switch to cake pops, you can borrow our pan and any (or all) of the four books we have on decorating these things . . . 🙂

      • Psychosis, Giant Cupcakes and Cake Pops, Oh My! : The Procrastinating Life of a Distracted Writer

        Love it, Sarah.

  9. Everything. And I make great cookies and from scratch brownies you wouldn’t believe. But I’m kind of mean.

  10. Sleep is probably the most consistant thief of my available writing time. The rest of my life is unevenly split between all the stuff that inspires me and the time when I chronicle all those observations and repurpose them into my WIPs.

    • I stand corrected: my brand-new computer – which is denying me access to the manuscripts and WIPs on the external HD- has me sleepless AND reduced to working on my Script Frenzy entry via a legal tablet and a new ball point pen.

      Hope everyone else has a better weekend!

  11. Tetman beat me to it but it’s what I came on here to say, too: I do; I take me away from my writing.

  12. Soccer takes me away from writing. Cooking, cleaning, making a living, fucking, taking out the trash, parenting, feeding the animals, the kids, the husband, the soccer team. Filling out paperwork, tweeting, facebooking. The blow-test guys who came over to sell us insulation–they took me away from my writing AND they took me away from the big fat salad I made for lunch.

    The growing number of famous people who keep dying: Helm? Clark? Jesus. Death takes me away from writing. But it also drives me right back to the page. My tagline is Everything I write is a love story of one type or another, but really, I write about death way more than I write about love. So I’m a liar. And I write about that too–being a liar.

    One thing I don’t do anymore is bake. Little victories.

    • Dick Clark. The unlikeliest rock and roller ever, yet he got people dancing in the streets and there’s no better revolution than that.

      A farmer I know who lives about an hour from here and holds a music festival (“Childstock”) every July on his farm was visiting friends in the Catskills a couple of years ago. He was out walking in the fields one evening, as farmers do, — like writers and paper, farmers never feel comfortable away from tilled land — and he met Levon Helm, who was also out walking. They chatted, Ralph mentioned that he was a potato farmer and Levon Helm thanked him for the good work he was doing in difficult times. Not only a remarkable singer and musician, but a decent human being as well. To hear the voice of rural America, listen to Levon Helm.

      Peace.

    • “Everything I write is a love story of one type or another.”

      Damn. You took the words right out of my mouth. But it’s okay. Keep ’em, I’ll get another set.

      (And you took them right around the same time last night when I was saying almost the exact same thing to my wife while she was proofreading my most recent tale. Damn. It’s almost spooky, except it’s not. It’s a just a coincidence, one of the charming chiming harmonies of the cosmos.)

  13. What takes me away from writing? The day job, cooking dinner, the gym, sleep, basically life. But it doesn’t take me very FAR away from it. I never stop thinking about it. It’s the doing that’s the challenge.

  14. Work takes me away from writing. And I am seriously beginning to resent it.

  15. Research takes me away from my writing. And it’s not like I’m writing an important master’s thesis or anything, but you’d be surprised how looking at photographs of crumbling castles and lost gardens and reading blogs about what really goes on at Civil War reenactments can eat up your time.

  16. First things first.

    I am the singer searching for the right song,
    The dancer waiting for the right move,
    I am the mathematician exploring numbers
    And the designer awash in color.

    I am the musician strumming for the right note
    And the patient looking for a cure
    I am fat wishing to be thin
    And a slender waif eatting more.

    I am a writer searching for the ‘write’ words
    A reader looking for escape
    I am the writer
    Because I am.

  17. I like to think what takes me away from writing will provide a source for something I’ll eventually write. I’m a curious and helpful bastard, always wondering what’s up around the next bend. Excuses, excuses, excuses….

  18. What takes me from my writing? Ironically, my agent.

  19. Today it was f-ing mall that took me away from writing. I need some pants. I need some pants because my waistline has somehow expanded despite snacking like a Frenchwoman.

    So I guess, technically, it was my waistline that took me away from writing. Or my snack. Or France.

    Yes, it was the French. Bastards.

  20. My own brain is the most likely culprit. My concentration is most often 20 minutes. The good news is that 20 minutes isn’t so hard to find. and if I fuck up or come up with nothing it’s only 20 minutes worth. The second thing is more complicated. My wife. She takes me away from my writing but she is the also the inspiration and topic. Life is complicated. I love reading everyone’s answers.

  21. The Bitch Goddess, Love.

    I fantasize about a life free of Her.

  22. I wish I was as loyal to my writing as I am to this fucking blog. On Saturday mornings, I don’t know what to do with myself.

  23. Wow did I love this! Everything and everyone including the dog zaps my writing time. Yesterday, I baked a pie for my kids community service shopped for a gift basket and made that, drove them everywhere and had a date with my husband, played with the dog and watched a family show when we came home. Here I am next day, got up at 6:30 ended up making them breakfast, and dropped my son off at an activity. Dog is snoozing and I came home and sat at the key board. Yes! Then my husband walks in with a lot to say about nothing. I exclaimed, “I’m sorry, I need quiet time! It’s just me I need quiet time.” I have learned if I don’t sit and write the thought as it comes, the words will be gone for eternity. Thanks for this, now I know I am not alone. Whoops have to run and pick up my son. 😉

  24. This morning I was working on the edits of a short story (first one accepted, woo hoo!) while my daughter was on my shoulders, sharing my chair, sitting on my lap or on the table sitting next to my computer. Even I was surprised by my ability to tune out her pleas for me to do something more fun.

    And if you’re curious, the story was about a man who’d lost his daughter. You’d think that would have swayed me to put off the edits yet another day.

    • Congratulations on your story’s acceptance. Few accomplishments as a writer may feel as good as having your first accepted story.

      And bonus points for doing edits with your child crawling all over you.

  25. Right now, getting people to support me and get my first book published is halting the progress of another piece I’m writing.

    Help –

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