• 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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Before That Moment You Touch My Lips THat Perfect Feeling WHen TIme Just Slips

This morning I wrote an essay inspired by the deaths of Whitney Houston  and Mary Kennedy. I had been thinking about them, but hadn’t plan to write anything and certainly not this morning when I had two editorial letters to write and a half dozen manuscripts to read. When I looked up, I had six pages and two hours had gone by. Blip. The question is: is the piece any good? WHen something comes out in a rush of energy, it’s easy to get carried away, think it’s better than it is.  I guess the real test would be to send it out. Are rejections and acceptances the only gauge? What about personal satisfaction. What about those two hours spent so happily in Neverland. Does that count?

Does that happen to you? Time disappears when you’re writing? Does it get any better?

31 Responses

  1. Beautiful post and yes it does count and yes I have had that happen. It is magic to me and sacred to me. Pure writing energy is just that, the editing to perfection (or attempting perfection) is for other times.

  2. It is the true delicousness of writing. Better, or at least as good, as a great meal. I’ll go six hours and hate having to stop writing. It is not, however, a good nightcap–as I cannot stop my mind once it is on the train of thought.

  3. Totally disappears for me. I think the rawness of what comes out of that space is special but often needs revision.

    One of the favorite things I ever wrote was an essay on the deaths in August 1995 of first Jerry then my childhood idol and first crush, Mickey Mantle. Comparing deaths and lives can be an interesting process.

    • I think Jerry was pretty much at peace with who he was; Mickey Mantle seemed to have a harder time acknowledging who the person was he saw in the morning mirror.

  4. Great question! Right on the money. I’m all about escaping time, by locking into being engaged…looking up and realizing hours have distilled into something cool on the page…and that calm feeling of Thank God, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do all the other lame shit that seemed somewhat necessary: tasks, whatever! After you write? Then other stuff happens and it’s about figuring out if other people’s opinions, including my own, are valid or noise. Then figuring out how to get back to escaping time by getting engaged.

  5. Sometimes, yes.

  6. I love real writing time like that, it feels crystalline, like hiking in crisp air.

    But you have to turn back, look over your path in descent. Then it becomes work and editing, tricky and requiring a different agility. And yet, you need the two brain types to get you back to the ranch, don’t you?

  7. I cannot get my mind around the way time changes when I am writing. I look up and three hours are gone. Can you imagine waiting in traffic or washing dishes for three hours? One hour babysitting a one year old and I feel like I need an IV of something.

    • (Disclaimer: I do not condone the following advice. Parenting is serious.).

      A friend’s sister in law was lamenting the stress of trying to keep up with a young child.
      “A little bit of pot helps,” Barnyard Bob said.
      “What do you do, hold him down so he doesn’t squirm so much when you blow the smoke at him?”
      It took a moment for the slightly twisted but seriously sincere Barnyard Bob to recover and explain the weed was intended for the adult, not the child.

  8. Thanks to Jonathan Larson, I now know there are 525,600 minutes in a year. I think using 120 of them writing an essay is time well spent, most especially if it sheds light on why women, who supposedly have it all, kill themselves.

    • Yes. That’s the question I want the answer to. Why do they? Are we, as women, all at risk?

      When I lose myself in my writing like that, I know I’m on the right path and have no desire to veer off.

  9. So much fun! I want to read it. Light editing only, please.

  10. It’s called “flow.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

    My personal belief is that it means the piece is GOOD. So, yeah, you have to screw around with word choice, etc., Minor.

    FLOW is the reason we love being creative. I love flow and flow loves me.

  11. Time always disappears when I’m writing and it can be a bit disconcerting sometimes when I realize I’ve been “gone” for hours. Somehow the morning has turned to afternoon, I haven’t eaten and my poor dogs need to go out. I love it when that happens. Sometimes, I think the writing is good, and sometimes it’s not…but, even if I have to sift through and choose what to keep, usually I find little nuggets of gold that I love which offsets my disappointment for what gets deleted. Whether someone else thinks it’s good or not matters, but I don’t let their opinion be my gauge as to whether I’ve wasted the time or not. That kind of writing is always good – it’s cathartic.

  12. Not only does time disappear but someone else manipulates my fingers and washes the words from my brain.

    Sometimes, while I’m gliding along so smoothly I will use a word, that when I reread, I do not know what the fuck it means; it sounds right, but I don’t have a clue to its definition. Of course it’s the perfect word for the sentence, for the phrase, and expresses exactly what I want to say in the paragraph but it is as if it came from someone else’s mind; a mind more eloquent with synapses directly connected to the writing universe.

    I’ve been told those are the ‘little voices’ in my head. I will give them names; how about Funk and Wagnall.

    • Theo and Sauraus? I know what you mean about words appearing from nowhere. Something sounds good but later you find out it’s inappropriate. Or better yet, it’s perfect.

    • Wry – I’ve had that very thing happen to me. A word pops in my head and I have no idea where it came from, what it means, but it just sounds so right for the sentence. I’ve had this happen with names for characters too. I’ve got two names in my latest book – I’ve never heard them before – I didn’t know if they even existed in the English language. Turns out they do – but I don’t know where they came from or why I thought of them while writing this book. I’m always sort of freaked out by this when it happens. It’s just so strange…

      One word I recall that popped in my head was sanguine, I had to go look it up – and like you – it fit the sentence even though I was oblivious to it’s meaning.

    • My parking gods are Larry and Pete. They won me a car in a raffle so I’m a firm believer in names!! And that extra quarter one leaves in the meter for the next driver to pull in.

  13. As I say in my book … (oh wait, I haven’t written a book yet)

    As I will say in my nonexistent book …

  14. I love it when time disappears.

    Clock watching happens when the words won’t come.

  15. Not very often. Not recently. I want to go back to that, lost in the story, unaware of what happens at 10 or any other damn time. Do I write something and think it better than it is? Happens more often than I have a spontaneous erection. Sometimes after letting it lay dormant a couple of days I pick it up and say: What is this shit I thought was so good. I hope it reads as well for you after you print it out and let it percolate a while.

  16. If it stands the test of time ( a day later, a joint later, a couple of drinks later; a sober moment later), it’s good. I’ve written stuff in a psilocybin rush that I thought was brillant only to look at the next day and say, Whoa, glad the SEND box looked all wavy gravy shimmery and I couldn’t figure out how to move the mouse from the desk onto the little pad because this needs to be tweaked just a little and what was I thinking? But yes, before, after and during the hurricane, the time just slips away.

  17. Okay, it was time to update my blog so I figured I’d give it a try…to make time disappear.
    After the Triple A guy came to replace my battery and with Dr. Phil in the background I did it.
    Started from nothing.
    I typed ‘imagine’ and fifteen minutes later the new post was done. It came out of nowhere. I even ignored the little blue lines under the many mispelled words until after I finished.
    Read it, don’t read it, time stopped.
    Now I have to go clean my bathroom. Duty calls, hahaha, duty, get it?

  18. Lately, my internal clock has equipped itself with a head-up display that projects each long moment into my field of view as I try to write.

    But dammit, I remember how lovely that gone-time feels. No pain no chores no fear no doubt.

    May we all get some.

  19. My attention span is about 20 minutes. Even at my best most involved writing moments. I’m not a channel-er and words never just come. I’ve worked longer than 20 minutes for sure but still this is something I wish I understood. Sometimes I’ll sit for an hour and change three words and that could be my best work, removing half an image that garbled things to dizziness. I don’t know.

  20. As a clock collector, the steady tick-tock of several antique mechanisms is the subtle background noise in my home & office. I rarley think of that sound as parcelling out time or judging my actions. Rather, it is a metallic little pulse preventing dead silence from filling up those moments when I pause from deep concentration. Hours spent writing amid that steady beat reassure me that Time is keeping up with me.

    • But doesn’t it scare the bejeebies out of you when they chime, if they chime? And what about daylight savings time and winding…oh my, such responcibility.

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