• 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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Wake Me Up When September Ends

The first day back to work after Labor Day is usually something of a feeding frenzy when agents flood the market with their projects. Received wisdom dictates that you don’t sell a book in August when most editors and publishers are taking vacation. Agents will stockpile projects rather than sell them in the final weeks of August. And then September with its macintosh back to school plaid and patent leather snap arrives and let the games begin. Me, I let the foot soldiers go first and then I attack. WHat? Please. In publishing, a strategy that works is a strategy that works. There are more exceptions than rules. And the inmates most certainly run the asylum. Or should.

It’s September, do you know where your pages are?

 

58 Responses

  1. My pages are languishing in the realm of the waiting. We all know how that goes, don’t we? Waiting, waiting . . .

  2. Funny you should ask. As a teacher who writes about education, my pages are pouring out now that the new school year has started. Summer? When I am “on vacation,” with plenty of time to write? Nah. The words are where the action lies and the action resides with the kids. Frantic and insane, but sadly, true.

    • I hear that! All summer off and the words are dribbling like a leaky faucet. I go back to work and suddenly a fire has ignited under my arse.

    • I agree! I think it’s because I don’t have a set routine in summer. Even when I have things to do, I’m still only half alert. During the school year, I am always up and moving. I guess the constant activity stimulates the brain.

  3. Spent 3 days without electricity during/after H. Isaac filling a new tablet with the first chapters of a new story idea. Without the distraction of email, cellphone or even TV, I am amazed at the number of pages of text ready to be transposed into a digital format. Writing by (mostly) candlelight, I’m also amazed any of this is legible.

  4. Right in the bottom of a desk drawer, where they should be.

    *sigh* Yes, yes, I’ll get them moving tomorrow.

    Damn it, Betsy. You’re such a nag.

  5. I can’t even answer your questions, it’s been such a terrible day. Don’t ask.

  6. they’re hanging out in the kitchen with the scullery maids.

  7. Screaming for their lives. I’m feeling particularly scissor-happy these last few days.

  8. Right here with me unfortunately. Which reminds me, I’m supposed to be getting back into a routine here.

  9. My pages are now a play- finished in August. Now that it’s September I have to rewrite. My plan Is to change subtext, not plot and submit in November…now that I’ve said it, maybe I’ll do it?

  10. In the September queue, and their summer tan is just about faded.

  11. Multiplying, with barely a labor pain. Think I’m finally working on a book I was meant to write.

  12. My pages are currently under the cat.

    He’s purring, which I’ll take as a good sign until his next hairball comes through.

  13. Mine are in Washington working for our esteemed Senator. Hopefully at desks not under them.

  14. Journals just shy of toppling piled high on my desk, a computer file virtually toppling, scattered, torn bits and pieces, receipts, bill margins, rough-edged and shoved between books and magazines as reminders, or discarded ideas left to their fate as lonely bookmarks. Where are my pages not?

  15. Some of mine are with some unknown editor. (Decided to go the indie route with this book.) Others are waiting to be polished up and sent to my agent. Still more are saying…what are we chopped liver?

  16. Fifty pages in NY since July. It’s gone eerily quiet since then. Gotta track ’em down, which I don’t wanna do…

  17. In a computer file, backed up on flash drive and printed out on paper with pen mark corrections, arrows and numbers all over the place. I mostly like it, but like a clockmaker painstakingly fashioning a brass gear to custom fit an antique cuckoo clock, I’m still tinkering.

  18. Taking a rest, like bread dough. Then they will rise and be punched down. I can’t decide if this is fun or not.

  19. They are here and there. I read somewhere that August is “the quiet time” in publishing…along with Thanksgiving thru the New Year (is that true??)

    Some are in active submission, some are with the agent (to be read) and some, right here, growing into what I hope is the 3rd book.

    Your comments about how it works, whether an agent decides to flood the market or sits back and waits for the right moment…gives me hope.

  20. I know where they are. Running in place. Going nowhere. Back to the current WIP and maybe that one will be the one my agent gives the nod to. The neverending rewrites then abandonment then another book. Round and round it goes where it ends nobody knows. Ask me if I understand the Gerbil and the Wheel.

  21. I’ve got a big plastic container of my pages, mixed with photographs and newspaper clippings. So many stories and adventures, all contained. I wonder what my children will think of them, that day when I am gone and they stumble across their contents. I’m not editing the box. It’s me and they should know me, truly. I could certainly add more, that’s for damn sure. Thanks, Betsy. You’ve just lit a match under my ass.

    • THIS is how I want to do it, going forward. I have a perfect antique cedar chest I inherited from my husband’s great aunt – a woman I barely knew. She thought I’d like it. Let the great, great grandchildren sift through my writing and marvel at my craziness. Let them push it into the world, if they want.

      Today, I’m weary of industry stuff. I just want to write. Thank you, msb.

      • Beautiful, November. I can’t help but wonder about that chest and what a wonderful gift it turned out to be.

      • I remember she was very old and lived in a teeny apt. in a triple decker outside Springfield, MA. She had a few modest possessions and when she died, they found the chest with my name inside. I think she liked the cards & notes I used to send her. I wasn’t really writing back then. Or maybe I was…

  22. Last night I thought, I’m done. That’s it. I’m killing the dream. I’m taking a match to every last word so I won’t give a shit any more. I’m sick of trying. I’m sick of pretending to try. I’m too old, too weary, too stupid, too lazy. My pages are in the basement turning to mold. I got no strategy, nothing finished, no balls.

    I’m blaming this on the P&W MFA issue. Who are all these people out there? Why am I reading this and thinking I could do this. I could get an MFA from Iowa, Brown, Lesley, Syracuse, Vermont at the age of 55 while raising 2 kids and paying the mortgage? Thinking I want to teach, write, read, sip shitty coffee at conferences and workshops, impress someone, have my heart broken, publish something, put myself out there with all those people.

    It’s September. I’m awake. I’m on burn notice.

    • Yeah. That was a nasty P&W issue. Please don’t burn your writing and don’t let magazine or internet opinions get you down. I don’t have the answer, but please don’t let those people hinder your writing. If that happens, then they’ve won.

    • Completely agree with November…

      I barely read that P&W issue…flicked through it and then tossed it aside. The jury is still out -remember? – on whether or not writing can be taught. Some say yes, others no, sounds a lot like the politics we hear these days.

      Throw away the matches – keep writing. We all have these moments and wonder what the hell we are doing. Only those bad feelings are things that should be set on fire.

    • Hey Blocked,
      OMG I have been where you are. Days I’m all in, days I’m all out, nights I want to cry because what I write is so beautiful and nights I cry because it’s shit. At a certain age we see an end to all of this and it makes you wonder, do we have enough time, is this all a waste, why the fuck should I try? Well…you know why because
      YOU CAN’T WIN IF YOU DON’T PLAY.
      That’s writing sweetheart. Fancy learnin’ gets you only so far, living and learning is what plows the road. Don’t give up because you feel too old, I’m old enough to be your big sister, I got the writing gig I dreamed about twenty-five years ago, only recently, after raising my family. Don’t give up because others are more educated or have more connections. There is always someone at the head of the line and always someone at the rear. Work your way up one word at a time.
      Fuck the rest and write, damn it, write.
      Whew…now I feel better.

  23. My pages of two novels, reduced to queries, are floating in God’s palm.

    My next book, (oh my, what I’ve learned after writing the first two), excites me beyond end. It rests for the next ten days or so because my youngest is getting married a week from next Saturday. Those pages, unwritten, are like squirmy little kids during a long road trip.
    “Are we there yet?”
    “Not yet, sweeties, settle down; fasten your seat belt, just a little longer.”
    “Hey…shut up or I’m going to stop this car…now.”

  24. one hot mess, my pages. big old hot mess. perhaps tonight i will return to them.

  25. My pages are surviving at birth just long enough to be euthanized.

  26. Page: Noun. “A young person, usually in uniform, employed to run errands, open doors, etc., as in a hotel.”

    Yes, where are those damn pages when you need them.

  27. Waterlogged with tears and vodka tonics.

  28. […] was some (understandable) bitching and moaning on Betsy’s site yesterday about the PW interviews with fancy MFAs. I didn’t read it. PW […]

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