• 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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If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Someone asked if I would write another book. Not if I can help it. I really want to write movies. I think I might have mentioned that I got kicked out of NYU film school. I would like to get an Oscar and say, “no thanks to NYU.” Do I know that I’m too old to break in (yes, yes, the King’s SPeech)? Do I know that most indie movies are made by writer-directors? Do I know that family dramas are the last thing anyone wants (yes, yes The Kids Are All RIght, The Descendants) And yes, the rules are made to be douche bags. But I do have book ideas. Especially during the month of August when the sun follows me. THere’s my old idea, THe RIng of Truth which looks at why people have mini orgasms when they read or go to readings; My Carrie-inspired YA, I want to adapt Food & Loathing as a YA, or rather a publisher asked me if I ever thought to then disappeared.  I want to write LOVE IS BLINd and Other Cliches. I want to write  a book called  Knowing When To Quit (about Family, love, and work). A sort of counter-intuitive self help that suggests quitting and giving up is just as valid if not more than persisting. I’d like to write a book about seeds. A cultural history.

What about you? Got any ideas kicking around?

71 Responses

  1. love the Knowing When to Quit. Brilliant idea, Ms. B. L.

  2. Striking Out on Your Own: How to Fail to Succeed

    The Shut-Your-Mouth Guide to Dating, Dieting, and Drama

    Whatever: One Step to Realistic Parenting

  3. I’m trying to write a sequel to an Irish story about a girl who gets involved in insurrection. She hallucinates a lot. But that’s normal for an Irish girl. So she goes to Dublin just after the place is burned down. She helps an old professor decipher a manuscript. He gets famous and she goes home. The first one is coming out in September. Looking forward to it.

  4. I always romanticize those families that sell everything, buy a boat, and sail around the world for seven years.

    Never mind their adult kids seem to end up looking like a muggers wet dream.

  5. The Descendants was a great book first, just saying. I’ve actually set aside my me-me-me-memoir and have started something new. And, confession alert, one of my characters did something I wasn’t expecting when I was scribbling away the other day. So I’ve become *that* person. Sigh.

  6. Yes, I have book ideas kicking around. Doesn’t everyone? Especially we writer peeps? Sometimes people ask a writer, “Where do you get all your ideas?”, but getting ideas has never been a problem for me. Or it has been a problem because I’ve had so many ideas I couldn’t do justice to them all in ten lifetimes, so I trimmed the list to those I’d like to finish in this one lifetime.

    Some of the books I’d like to finish before I die are a novel about teenaged military cadets in the early 1970s (since I was one of those and lived the research), a rewrite as a novel of a screenplay I wrote about a Civil War battle (I’ve been doing research on that project since last fall), a novel about a law firm with a bunch of people doing a bunch of stuff to each other (lived the research on that one, too), and possibly my most daunting project, some sort of creative nonfiction or fictionalizing of a case I worked on a few years back where a guy went off his meds and shot some people. That one’s a toughie because I’ve got copies of the case records, some of which I prepared myself since I worked on the case, and I know things that only an insider could know, and I can reach conclusions and create scenes that only an insider could know or even speculate about, and some of it would have to be fictionalized because the people involved are either dead or incarcerated or they signed off on confidential settlements or they’re still around and they carry guns and badges and law degrees and they could hurt me, and when I write it and it gets published I will have pretty much wrecked the career I’ve worked at the past twenty years so what am I going to do for a living, but it’s a hell of a story and it has to be written and I’m the one to write it. So you can tell it’s been bugging me.

    And Betsy, if you wrote “a sort of counter-intuitive self help that suggests quitting and giving up is just as valid if not more than persisting,” you know that would have to be fiction, right?

  7. Oh, yeah, quitting is definitely valid. Some people, including me, persist long after we should call it a day. Hoo-boy, do I have experience in that category.

  8. Lord yes, my ideas are getting kicked around – but all I want is to have them picked up and given a chance.

  9. a buncha linked short stories called WELCOME INN, based on a small town truck stop/diner.

    if you want to quit just go ahead.

  10. Yep! Writing my mom’s story of childhood. I’m having trouble on point of view though. Been conducting interviews so I feel first person as I’ve been hearing the stories told in first person, but it’s not my story being told. Up in the air on the POV is hurting my writing time.

    But this is the first solid story idea I’ve had my entire life, so I’m trying to just go with it. Blogging about it too! Although I hate to shamelessly advertise it, I would love people’s comments and advice here and there!
    http://livingawritinglife.blogspot.com/

  11. 11,000 words into a non fic subtitled The Myth of Manhood. Yeah I do have a title.

    11,000 words into a fiction sequel of my same guys. It’s getting old.

  12. I keep having these ideas, these platforms for a character who says, for instance, “I’m not a fan of the deaf,” and politically horrific stuff like that. A sort of Maggie Smith dowager, but American and coarser. Another plunge into the sea of the unlikeable narrator. Futile. Impulsive. Masturbatory.

    • I’d read it.

    • It’s already made me laugh. (It’s supposed to be funny, right?)

    • Sometimes I’ll just hear this little bit of dialogue in my head. Or even just a word. Like rumrunner. And then it won’t go the hell away. No story, no character, no context but it’ll keep repeating until I finally write it down. Rumrunner rumrunner rumrunner.

    • That takes guts! I have this bad habit of sticking my foot in my mouth. I’ll say stuff and people will read into it completely the wrong way, so I’m now in a habit of watching what I say. So I’d love to read a narrator like that! Or there’s another idea – one who always sticks her foot in her mouth!!

  13. All I’ve got is ideas. Still struggling to get the freaking words down.

    I like the knowing when to quit book idea. And, wanna-be farmer that I am, I LOVE the seeds idea. You MUST include the story of the staff at the seed bank during the Siege of Leningrad who, rather than eat the agricultural genetic heritage of their country, starved to death. They’re all saints in my book. Bless them, bless them, bless them.

  14. Lots of ideas kicking around. Sometimes I hug them at night. I just have two big revisions to complete and hawk and then – and then – I’ll probably have forgotten everything. I love ideas, but I also love the stuff you wrap around them.

  15. Presently, I’m working on the final draft of my novel-manuscript before I begin the query process in the new year. For me it’s been a long haul. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve re-written this story. During the process ideas for others novels have come to me. I now have a little collection. When I feel discouraged I look at them and tell myself when I finish this manuscript I get to choose one of the waiting stories and explore. Something like a reward, or dessert.

  16. Love this post, B. Feels different to me somehow. Always the ideas chase me like a bear growling…let’s have a hug.

  17. Hahahaha…those little freaking coincidental gnomes at play again, what came first MY email or your POST? Me.
    Fuck NYU.
    Anyway, to quote you, page 18 I think, writing 101 “essays don’t sell”. I sell them.
    MY page 18, screenplays written by “too old to break in” writers have the same chance as those written by the young upstart under the producer’s desk. If you’re good, you’re good.
    Fuck NYU.
    While sitting at the table one day, my family, kids included, were discussing the ins and outs of success. My mother, she was 80 at the time said, “…it’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s who you blow”. We were on the floor; she was a piece of work. Success begins with succ…my point being you don’t have to literally do the dive, trust that you know the best way to pucker.
    Fuck NYU.
    You will get to stand on the stage and say fuck NYU because life is like that. Oh wait…you already have the stage all you need now is the statue…see…you’re already half way there.

    • I think I would have liked your mom.

      • Mike D, if you said something she thought was BS she would have told you to shit in your hat and pull it down over your ears. Then she would have served you Veletta and Saltines on a crystal dish.
        BTW she would have liked you and your title too. O, O and O.

  18. Yep, but an idea is good for a few pages, and then it takes something more.

    – In Southbound, a guy heads down a big river in a small boat.

    – In King of Hell, a local returns home from far away, finds everything spoiled, comes into some money, then some more money, and sets out to make some things right. But the big guys won’t roll over, so it is on. King hides out in Tate’s Hell, (near where Eulee’s Gold was set) and gets people to do what comes naturally.

    – A NF story of a boat from concept through completion on to adventures. The first part is about the people, then the building and testing, then the voyages.

    • Finding this painfully true Frank. The idea literally goes a couple pages and then…and then…don’t know yet. That’s where I’m at…a couple pages.

  19. I want to write a cat book. The cat doesn’t teach the reader any life lessons, doesn’t win over the cat-hating neighbors, doesn’t have a heartwarming personality, and doesn’t die in the end.

    I’ve always thought that “seeds” is the weirdest word in the English language. It doesn’t even sound like a word. It sounds like a fragment of a word, at best. My French ex-husband thought that “teapot” was the most fun word in English, and I regret that I never got his opinion on “seeds”, but I imagine that it would have taken some effort to convince him that this hissing sound was really a real word that normal English-speaking people say.

  20. I’m doing preliminary research for my next novel: Stripping, Sex, and Popular Culture (Roach, 2007) and Snoop: What your Stuff Says About You (Gosling, 2009). Or that’s my excuse, anyway.

    • I’d love to be your research consultant for the Snoop msc, but then I’d lose most of my clients! We interior designers know w-a-y too much about the literal and figurative skeletons in closets and file drawers. I like to think of those little subplots as an entertainment perk against those days when the carpenter drives a nail through a water line.

      • Or a tidy little blackmail sideline . . . 😉

        The most an interior designer could get out of my stuff is that I have no knack for interior design and no organizational skills whatsoever.

    • I read Snoop las fall! It was hard not to ecome a creeper on my friend’s afterward!

  21. I got so orally wrapped up that I forgot about the idea rattling around in the abyss we call my head. This is big, I mean really, really big.
    For over forty years I have wanted to write a book about John Rapp and the Harmony society in western Pennsylvania. Rapp, (a relative nine generations back), was the head of a utopian society which at its peak became celibate. When his son’s wife became pregnant he and a group of his followers tied the son to a tree and cut his balls off, the young man bled to death. His granddaughter Gertrude became the delight of his life in later years. There is so much to this story, politics, secret tunnels, cult like worship and a society far ahead of its time. The scope is huge, the story has blockbuster elements but I know at this point, financially I can’t afford to do the research and regarding the effort, unless I was paid to do it via proposal it’s a no go. After a visit to Ambridge, PA thirty years ago to see the village, parts which still exist, I made an feeble attempt, now I know “…I’m too old to break in” or maybe just too scared of success.

    • Ah…the guys name was George Rapp. John, his brother is the guy I’m related to. Face red…having shelved something for forty years will do that to you.

    • Boil it down and serve it up, Wry. You ain’t got a hair on your ass if you don’t.

      Said with affection and respect.

      • Awe Frank, I love a challenge. I’m thinking about it but I just keep thinking…just another project to set on the shelf…gee I don’t know. Lack confidence maybe.

        SOUTHBOUND do it.
        Many years ago I met two guys who canoed down the Connecticut from Canada to Long Island sound. The stories they told at the bar in Old Saybrook, where the river meets the sound, were amazing. They never wrote a book about it. You my friend, head down a big river in your small boat and write. What a joy that would be.

      • I bet if you even wrote a novella or short story based on the true story, it could get optioned for a movie. You don’t need confidence to write it, you need the humility to set your false ego aside and write through the scary feelings. Writing it will give you the confidence, the money, and make it seem like time has stood still while you inhabit the world of your story. What will you lose by trying? I realize I should be the last person in the world to scold you, but just reading the little that you wrote electrified me. I don’t believe that you believe you’re too old, too scared, or lack confidence. I don’t believe it.

      • Tulasi-Priya, what you wrote about humility and setting false ego aside is perfect advice about starting the writing process, maybe forever advice. You get right to the heart of the matter and that’s the perfect tool for the job of writing. And Wry, somehow you’ve been given a perfect story to tell and from the comments the perfect encouragement to tell it.

    • This would be an amazing story! I just bought a cult experience book called Escape. It’s amazing that this kind of stuff even takes place! So from what you’ve said so far I already have questions I want answers to!! Like, did the granddaughter ever know her grandfather killed her father?!

  22. Mum’s the word on brewing ideas. Otherwise, they dissipate and I’m left grasping at air.

    Also, no one is ever too old to capture magic on the page. Isn’t that just another excuse, or self- fulfilling prophecy? As far as breaking-in, well, it’s all a crap shoot now anyway. Over-thinking this is a waste of time.

    • I like your age opinions.
      I ain’t as old as the numbers say I am, I’m as young as I once was.

      • It’s not as though writers are gymnasts, baseball players or ballerinas. We don’t have to retire as youngsters. As far as the industry stuff… that’s out of our control anyway.

  23. I’m thinking of a book about middle aged men and guitars. It’s got to be some kind of midlife crisis thing I guess, but after teenage boys, the biggest market for guitars is us balding shredder wannabes. Thing is, do middle aged men read? I know teenage boys are too busy trying to get drunk, stoned and laid (which is probably the main reason for the guitar fixation) to buy books, and they’re broke anyway, so that market is pretty well tapped.

    Also, while driving home the other night, an idea surfaced that I’ve wanted to explore for awhile, an informal history of a town nearby, the moonshiners, pot growers, a now defunct golf course and the hippies who took an outhouse from behind the town hall and set it up near the shack they were living in because they were too lazy to build one of their own. The theft wasn’t discovered until election day when all the volunteers at the polling place were women and it turned out the slackers had taken the Ladies shitter. It was a mighty luxurious two-seater, of that I can attest. Tentative title: Outlaws, Outhouses and Out of Bounds.

    • Sounds neat, Mike, and the title is excellent.

      On the guitar/mam thing, check out Dan big hands Colvin. He’s one of them, for sure.

      • Thanks, Frank. And thanks for the introduction to Big Hands — he has a nice, soulful blues voice and way more hair than I had even 25 years ago! My musical excitement for tonight is that the Carolina Chocolate Drops are playing a free concert in Lake Placid, less than an hour from here. Hopefully the rain will hold off….

    • The thing isn’t whether middle-aged men read, it’s the middle-aged women readers wanting to understand middle aged men and their guitars. Or hoping their middle-aged men will remember how to play (guitar) again.

      • G-C-D. Everything else is just showing off. I can’t speak for any other old farts, but for me it’s a lot of fun and a way of seeing the world (hearing the world?) in a different light.

    • Don’t confine this book to middle aged men and their guitars – include the bands they inevitably join/form. Our local US Attorney fronts a band that plays gigs for non-profit organizations. Their “groupies” are an interesting lot, too.

    • My husband reads, and we share our 480 s.f. shack with his five guitars. He and a friend custom-built a guitar for him once. The wood had a worm-hole in it, it was stained with lamp-black, and it’s pretty ugly, as guitars go. They christened it the Pancho Villa Punitive Expedition Tequilacaster, for reasons that are obscure to me at the moment, except that the tequila part is in homage to the worm whose final resting place was the guitar. The thing kicks total ass. We have occasionally gotten into fights over his obsession with his “long-necked women,” but there’s no reasoning with musicians, be they wanna-bes or pros.

      • I had heard the acronym G.A.S. bantered about quite a bit and finally figured out what it stands for: Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. I never understood why anyone needed more than one guitar and then I turned around one day and realized I had three. And that’s not counting the ones that got lost or stolen along the way. The only one that ever had a name was the first one, Stella (that’s what it said on the headstock), a tough guitar that was rained on and dropped from the back of pickup trucks and from the cab of a semi, the neck so warped I couldn’t play higher than the fifth fret. I used it exclusively as a slide guitar for awhile until my friend Johnny borrowed it to take out hitchiking across the country and Stella disappeared somewhere in the southwest, perhaps not far from where Pancho met his demise. I suspect tequila may have been involved. Anyway, there’s a reason why the body of the guitar is shaped the way it is.

  24. God help me I’ve got high concept ideas for a YA novel, a middle grade book, and a screenplay, as well as a very commercial idea for a funny cozy mystery series. But. I have a career writing women’s fiction and am juggling several freelance jobs to pay the mortgage. So I’d need at least a few clones (or a major inheritance) to take a whack at any of these.

  25. A million or so. But honestly they all feel hollow and unimportant right now. My brother passed away last week, the same day I published my book as fate would have it. It feels like some goddamned O.Henry story. He’d been quite ill so it was no surprise, but the shockwave still hits me again and again. Is that all there is ? I’ll keep writing for my own peace of mind but I feel like I’m going through the motions.

    • Hey, D.L., I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I know what you mean about going through the motions; there’s not much more you can do. Peace. And congratulations on the publication of Chalk Valley.

    • I’m sorry too. But do keep writing. Somewhere down the road you may find your brother in what you’re putting down in these days.

    • I am so sorry for your loss.
      Isn’t it strange how sweet is balanced by bitter; doesn’t seem fair but then again nothing is. Hang in…your life will right itself in time.

  26. D.L., I am sorry for your loss.

  27. Book ideas? Yeah… dozens or more.
    A couple of years ago I joined a writer’s group. We’d meet in a local library. The first 30 minutes, in our once-a-month meetings, we’d scribble a scene as fast as we could from Bernays’ and Painter’s “What If,” chosen at random. Then for the next two hours we’d read and critique each other. Lots of fun.
    But, after each meeting, I liked what I had written so much that I’d go home and flesh out a whole story line around the scene. Before the next meeting I’d have a 2” binder pretty much filled.
    I quit that group after 12 binders… not enough shelf space.

  28. Here’s to your Oscar!
    Love your book ideas. I’m re-reading The Forest for the Trees, and I would camp in front of a bookstore to buy Love is Blind and Other Clichés, Knowing When to Quit, and Small Death at a Reading.

    I’m working on a sequel to my cheery post-apoc novel. The new book is set in a dystopian society in which the new surveillance technology is collectively referred to as “Omniscient God.”

    Ideas for after the darker books:
    • Turn my little biker story into a vampire piece. Better my sister whored out to Dracula than my brother on a rice-burner.
    • Make my short-short story, Other Gods Before Thee, longer—and the hand grenade more talkative.
    • Something with space erotica, but with a better hook than that same-old same-old weightless fucking. Maybe something about laying pipe in a 12g environment?

  29. A memoir retracing the choices I made that contributed to my daughter’s violent and unresolved death at the age of 24

    A novel based on my mother’s marriage to a bigamist when she was 16. As much of this story remained untold I will need to create one.

  30. Just as a reminder and to quote the great author of The Forest for the Trees, “Writing demands that you keep at bay the demons insisting that you are not worthy or that your ideas are idiotic or that your command of language is insufficient” (Lerner 26).

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