• 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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Jesus Loves You More Than You Will Know

Because I am lonely and feel misunderstood. Because I am a ham, a showoff, a classic middle child. Because I can’t do anything else. Because I want to stand at the podium and blather. Because I want my mother’s love and admiration. Because I want to get invited to parties. I want everyone who didn’t believe in me to suck it. I want the dream. Because nothing compares to a book. Because I like being alone. Because I hate and love myself in equal measure. Because someone said you are good but you are hiding. Because someone here said they spit their coffee on the computer.

Why do you write?

89 Responses

  1. oddly, or not, you pretty much covered it right there.

  2. Very simple. I absolutely adore books. When people tell me they are “readers” or book lovers, I laugh because I haven’t personally met one a far gone as me.

    Also a few people along the way happened to tell me I have a knack for writing and I’d like nothing more than to join the world of authors. It’s all about the book and telling of a story, plain and simple.

  3. Because I am good for nothing else. Except cooking, and damned if I’m going to make a life out of that, but it’s pretty much sizing up that way.

    • Passing over the box that likes to be thought outside of

    • Skipping rope while patting your head and rubbing your belly is overrated anyhow, TP. I prefer writing myself.

      I do wish I could cook. Yesterday’s chicken was gray. Gray. My answer was to stick it under the broiler for a bit to elicit a golden hue. It might have worked if smoke didn’t start billowing from the vent first. Damn, anemic, Finnish chickens.

    • Holy shit one of the things I say is that the only compliment I ever believe is that I am a good cook because I cook what I want to eat and know how it tastes and very few people are lying when they eat thirds. I just had to say.

  4. Because I’m clawing my way through self-actualization.

  5. I am cleaning out and organizing the junk drawer.

    And it has amazing repercussions.

  6. because when i was a little boy my mom would read me bedtime stories and i asked her where the stories were coming from and she pointed at the page and said right here, these black marks are letters and they are grouped into words and the words tel the story, they are where the story lives and i looked at the black marks and knew they were magic and i wanted to make that magic.

    because when i was an older boy i came to know of falsehood and stupidity and enforced silence and deception and cowering powerlessness and misunderstanding and decided there were truths that needed to be told and i would tell them.

    because now i am a very old boy and it is my smack my junk my lifeline my monkey my only remaining excuse for living and so help me god i will not quit and i cannot quit, i cannot allow myself to quit it would mean my life is waste and mistake and oops i can’t do it again.

  7. because i want to tell all of my family’s secrets.

    all of them.

  8. Betsy,
    I sent you Jewboy of the South, which you asked me to do. The Lowenstein Agency is interested. Have you had a chance to read what I sent, or has it been thrown out.
    PS I also sent you a $10 Starbuck’s card – hope you didn’t throw that out. Don Koplen

    • Is it terrible that this makes me want to write “Shiksa in Alaska”?

      • Ha!

      • I’m sorry to inform you, but if anyone else uses SHIKSA in a title I’m going to have to kill that person ’cause I claim SHIKSA as my own.

        (Yes, I was a shiksa before I had an orthodox conversion to Judaism — funniest thing I ever did — maybe that’s why I write?)

  9. Because I want to make sure my heart’s open if Jesus or Buddha or bliss stop by.

  10. Initially, I wrote to simply get all those ideas and phrases and observations out of my head. Since I’m still in query-mode, I continue writing to hone skills, to improve. Earlier this evening, some one walked up to me after a meeting and lamented the proposed 3-day-a-week publication of our local paper because she feared my op-eds won’t get printed. That one kind remark – probably no more than a mote of glitter to those with real credentials – was for me a brilliant flash of sunshine warming my soul. Who knew such a small validation by a stranger could be so powerful? Like a first kiss, I treasure that moment yet know I want more. I’ll recall that happy feeling when the next rejection letter arrives and press onward.

  11. Because I can’t not do it.

  12. Because I, too, am a middle child. Because I love books and words and language almost more than anything.
    Because I’m good at it. Because I want the dream. Who doesn’t?

  13. Because I make myself laugh.

  14. Because it entertains me. And because I want to entertain readers. And because I’ll do anything to avoid that giant pile of laundry waiting in the basket.

  15. Because it’s the one thing I do pretty well. Sometimes I do it so well even I like to read what I write. Being all ‘writery’ is a kick but I want more. I want fame and fortune. I want to make a literary agent rich. I want movie producers knocking on my door. I want to stand on the podium with a gold statue in my hand, thank my mother, father, husband, kids the almighty and Betsy. Right now I’m a gasping perch in a teeny-tiny mud puddle; I’d like to be a whale in Long Island Sound. I want it all, every bit. Because I want it so much, and actually believe it will happen, there’s a sign stuck to my back, it reads ‘asshole’.

    • Well… at least the sign’s on the correct side. You wouldn’t want it taped to your forehead. I wore mine there for years and couldn’t figure out why people gave me such funny looks.

  16. The voices in my head won’t leave me alone until I write ’em down.

    Kidding . . . well, sort of.

    I agree with Jennine G. up there about adoring books — I’m a lover of stories, I think in stories and what ifs, and I don’t know what else to do with them so I puzzle them out on paper.

    Plus it’s a major rush when it goes right.

    • The puzzle. I can’t do a lick of math, but I like to imagine this feels the same as solving an obscure math proof.

      • I love that you said this. Math is actually a language creating language. I’m a mathematician’s daughter and used to think all the goobdy-gook filling hundreds of legal pads was an attempt to translate what the stars said. A friend in babyhood thought it was Japanese. The fact that math creates a language out of nothing is the glue that has held my relationship with my father together and to that I owe my survival and thrival.

      • Ruth- please let us know when your memoir (hopefully titled The Mathematician’s Daughter) will be released.

      • No! Memoir yes, but no more “daughter” titles — we have to quit these “active male, passive female relation” way of defining ourselves.

        • The memoir has very little of my father in it. I love the man fiercely but… . It’s weird I would define myself in relation as such here in a comment. Used to be when I came across the response that it was odd to be competent in both numbers and letters I’d say my father was a mathematician. At some point it occurred to me how fucked up the whole paradigm of needing some male backup to prove my relevance and zipped it. Somewhere in the decades that fell away. Oye.

        • Oops, forgot to say the working, emphasize working title is We Are a Famous Love Story.

      • The other thing about being competent in both numbers and letters is that you bring both sides of the brain to a manuscript. My numbers background was invaluable to me in coming up with cohesive final drafts.

        That said, I won’t even attempt to define competent.

  17. I hate it when you make me think…because it releases something inside me I don’t understand and can’t name…because it gives me a purpose, offers a goal (sounds corny, but it’s true)…I love books, want to create one…because I’m trying to understand…and like Josephine, I want to tell my family’s secrets…actually, I want to splatter them all over the page…because I want to know why…and because I’m almost good at it, and it’s the ‘almost’ that keeps me reaching, wanting.

  18. The language, the way it looks and sounds, and the purposes it can serve.

    There are onions to be peeled and sliced and tasted.

    The trees in these forests have rings, and I want to see them, count them, hear their stories. No woodman’s axe, though.The trees must live.

    It is work and fun and structured freedom.

  19. Everything else scares me. Writing is like climbing Annapurna — a difficult journey, not everyone survives and if you make it, the summit might still be socked in by clouds. But there’s no denying it’s more than an interesting stroll.

  20. Because I can’t play musical instruments, but can work with tje cadence of words rather well. And despite the many moments of self-doubt and agita, it makes me happy and fulfilled.

  21. Because I find myself unbelievably entertaining.

  22. In a prior life, I was in Praebyrthium, in a long line waiting to enter the Renaissance Theatre. Bored with the wait, people danced on the cobbled street, turned cartwheels, acted silly. But a hush fell over the group as we neared the door. Henchmen prodded us through in blocks of forty, herding us into the orchestral pit. We huddled there under the threat of having our DNA pulled out one strand at a time if we so much as made a peep. Like cattle, we were singled out and ordered onstage. When my turn came, they shoved me, causing me to trip on the stairs. I gained my feet and found myself facing St. Cajetan, the patron saint of job seekers. His arms hung straight by his sides, weighed with the chains of labor still shackled to his wrists. His cloak, moth eaten and worn thin as a web, hadn’t been off his body in six hundred years. They pushed me to a white line where the saint stood. He handed me a single dart. A gorgeous woman, the spitting image of Miss Kitty, stood by THE WHEEL in a frilly corset. At his nod, she gave it a spin. My head bobbed as I followed the segments: knitter, priest, herbalist . . . . I couldn’t make a choice. The wheel seemed to gain speed and I didn’t fancy myself as much of a dartist anyway. Saint Cajetan, impatient to say the least, reached into his robe and withdrew a huge revolver. He placed at my temple. “Throw the fucking dart,” he screamed. Startled, I gave it a blind fling. Miss Kitty jumped back. Two of the baubles on her costume clicked, a sound I mistook for the trigger. I fainted on the spot. They drug me away. When I came to, I was propped against the back wall of the Renaissance Theatre. Refuse was strewn about and puddles of liquids I didn’t care to speculate on. Across my chest was a sticker. I craned to read the inverted scrawl: Writer. At the end of the alley there was sunlight. I pushed myself upright and staggered toward my birth.

  23. Because otherwise I am nothing.

  24. The ten reasons why I write, (Thanks Dave):

    10. I don’t like to watch network TV or my dozing husband on the couch who does.
    9. At my age if I don’t write I’d have to garden and I don’t like gardening.
    8. If I didn’t write, I’d forget and forgetting is so sad.
    7. Writing makes me feel a little above the rest and after so long at the bottom I like looking over the lip.
    6. Writing makes me feel accomplished. (I had to spell check accomplished).
    5. I want my children to be proud of me.
    4. My 12 year old minivan has 126,000 miles on it. The back door doesn’t open. There’s a dead spot on the right passenger’s window motor. The speedometer and tac work half the time. The right speaker only works when I go over a bump. I spend $250. a month on gas and I need a new battery. A filling broke, I need a crown. My youngest is getting married in two months, my oldest got married a few months ago, where the hell is the money coming from? My dog is fat. I have a headache. I’m constipated, (not really but I like adding a little shit to this) and I’m out of coffee. (I write so I can complain).
    3. I write because it forces me to sit down and shut up. My husband likes when I’m writing and not ragging on him.
    2. I write because the little voices in my head tell me to.
    And the number 1 reason why I write…if I didn’t write I’d sing.
    I.
    Can’t.
    Sing.

  25. Because my grandmother was one of those rare oral storytellers. Dracula and thrillers were her specialty. Her ability to thread a mystery, to keep multiple plot lines in her head for days on end, was an art.

    Because I think in story form.

    Oh, and for the glamour, fame and fortune. Especially the glamour.

  26. Well, it’s either that or die, She said in melodramatic form…

  27. For the fat stacks!

  28. Because the weird make-it-up-as-I-go-along life I’m somehow leading has rendered me too arrogant to do anything else but keep trying to fit language to idea.

  29. I think I might be a manipulative bitch at heart. Since I don’t believe in the real life practice of the art, I make do with fiction.

  30. I write to harness the pain to a purpose.

  31. I write to find that one story that only my voice can puzzle out, to bear our lives witness. These words are a crazy fucking love letter I know.

  32. First, Betsy – have you noticed your blog is on fire? I’ve never seen so many replies until the past couple of weeks…loving it, but it sure takes me a long time to do my own – I have to read them all!

    Why I write – your post covered it – except for one thing,… because I’m stubborn. (Pig headed is another term I’ve heard). Once told I can (or can’t do something) I am relentlessly determined to prove them right – or wrong.

  33. Because I’ve been doing it since I was seven or eight, and am kinda hopefull that by the time I’m seventy, I’ll finally get the hang of this shit.

  34. Honestly ? It makes little sense because I’m a lazy SOB and would far rather read or watch TV than write. But as I continue to age like a fine wine or an old shoe, what have you, I’m getting picky as hell and can’t find enough books that tell the stories I want to read. So I have to make them up myself. And I’m just OCD enough to try and turn them into actual novels. So in summary, I write because I’m lazy, picky, and obsessive/compulsive. I’m also occasionally flatulent, but that has little effect on my writing habits, just my social life.

  35. To strive for beauty.

  36. Because there’s a restlessness that doesn’t stop until I write. There’s a sense of my own mortality running after me, getting closer each day. Because writing takes my mind away from financial troubles, relationship anxieties, and physical discomfort. Because I am 82 years old and have to make up for the years I didn’t write. I write because I enter a different realm of being; my subconscious takes over. It does the writing. I follow as rapidly as I can, overcome with joy.

    Antonia Myrup Frank

  37. All these people and things exist, and it would be a shame to let everything pass without mention.

    A crime, perhaps.

    That, and writing for publication is one of the most competitive pursuits in this tear of veils. The feeling of having a story accepted and loved by at least one other person, is heaven. And because we’re not competing solely for our own edification, after all.

  38. Because not writing hurts too much.

  39. We write because, unbeknownst to us (until now where I am here revealing it), we are members of the universe’s counterforce to the second law of thermodynamics; to wit, we writers take the increasing entropy of the putatively closed system of experienced reality and its imagined extensions and transform it into an ever-increasing counter-realm of growing informational organization.

    Really. And you can try it at home. No tools more complex than something to write with and something to write on are required.

  40. To find out what happens next….

  41. I do not at all know the whole of it, but pieces of it might be…Because words are delightful? It’s one of the only times of being truly present? It beats anal-retentively cleaning your house? Because the process of it is strangely profound? Because every sentence, every paragraph completed is one more demon dead (heh heh, suck it demons!)? To regain power that was lost?

    As an acceptable way to manage the constant pushmi-pullyu of hiding and shining?

  42. As anorexics count calories, I count words written, and the columns of numbers give me peace.

  43. I have to quote you on why I write…to save my soul!

  44. Because it’s the only time we can truly be ourselves. And, as corny as it sounds, our characters are a reflection of that. We’re both just a couple of classic bottlers, so we’d go stark crazy if we didn’t.

  45. I want to favorite so many of the comments but there is not the means. Writing is a personal journey to get to the meaning. My newest favorite quote: “Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” — Jodi Picoult

    Gives me another reason to write and in doing so I will refer to a conversation between Pooh and Piglet, as Piglet asks, “How do you spell love?” Pooh replies, “You don’t spell it, you feel it.” So now with the multiple songs and quotes swirling in my head, I write to get their meanings translated onto screen or page. Record the journey. I am a print if not DNA on Earth but to find me has a better chance in written words.

    In that I feel the faith of holy spirits and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a mystery to me which is another interpretation of why I write. I sort and narrow my beliefs amongst the billions of others on Earth. Screw talking about it, write them down, get it out and then maybe discuss. People can’t seem to be civil these day with verbal communication and all we got left is the pen and paper/computer. Muhahahha.

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