• 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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Find Out What You Mean To Me

Fourth in a Five Part Series: The Fucked Up Things Writers Think

Your best friend from graduate school gets a poem in The New Yorker.  Your husband sells his third novel, you have yet to complete your first. Your shrink wonders out loud if this writer’s block is all in your head. HELLO?!  Your father wants to know when you’ve had enough of this nonsense. The most handsome guy at a Paris Review Party doesn’t acknowledge your presence in a conversation circle while regaling the close knit group about his adventures in Hollywood (George Clooney optioned his book and is starring in the movie.) You watch Little Women and wish you were Winona Ryder. You watch Girl, Interrupted and wish you were Winona Ryder. You watch Heathers and you wish you were dead. The New Yorker announces its 20 under 30. If only they published 40 over 50. Your chin looks like a battle ground. You lose your Moleskin in a Starbucks. Two pages a day. Just two pages a day. Ta-tum ta-tum ta-tum ta-tum. What did you have, how did you lose it. You have sex more often than you write! And you never have sex. You need to get away. You need to stay put. You need to read poetry.  You used to write poetry for fuck’s sake. You need to draw and quarter any writer within a ten mile radius who gets published, has a successful single Kindle, loves their agent, finds writing cathartic, carries around a yoga mat in the middle of the day and drinks soy venti grande low fat skinny jeans.

What are you thinking?

46 Responses

  1. Pretty much what you just said.

  2. I love your writing! Highlight of my day is finding a convenient to pay & mail back parking ticket. At last I have something to write – the check!

  3. I’m thinking I haven’t laughed this hard in weeks! This made my week–thank you!

  4. What I’m thinking is thank god for your posts. Thank you for being brittle, brutal and warm all at once.

  5. I’m thinking that after reading your post I have nonspecific chest pain radiating up through my frontal lobe. Any moment it will shoot laser beams from my eyes and leave my monitor a melting mess. Also, I’m planning ways in which I can now surround my life with foils as opposed to being one for someone else. Self confidence is a spotty notion at best. *shakes fist at the sky* ‘UNDER-30-PUBLISHED-SKINNY JEANS! Curse you. Curse you all to heck.” Because, you know, they’re not technically old enough for hell yet.

  6. Yeah, where the fuck is 40 over 50?

    Today I yanked my manuscript back from its sabbatical. It’s had a year-and-a-half to trot around my hard drive with its clove cigarettes and black turtleneck. Tough shit, you need another month off–I’m slapping that look off your face. I went all Mommy Dearest on it. Told it to look me in the face until it stopped being aloof and ungrateful. This is my house! My computer! Take off your earphones and stop Jacking my Spotify. This is not your beautiful playlist. I’m not listening to Up All Night one more fucking time. You’ve played in the third-person playground one chapter too many. Experiment over. Enough. It’s back to first person, and just to let you know I’m not kidding, we’re going first person present. Yes. Yes we are. You said what about my backstory? Fuck you.

    So, tune in tomorrow when I get all teary and remorseful and beg its forgiveness.

  7. I’m thinking you haven’t lost shit. I’m thinking what hope is there for the whole fucking planet if someone with your gifts can’t let go of the angst. I’m thinking pay the shrink a termination fee and check out Village Zendo.

  8. I’m thinking that I never went to grad school and I do not have a best friend. My husband doesn’t read let alone write. I do not have a shrink and my father is dead. You fuck the French guy I’ll take Clooney. Winona has herpes and Heathers…duh…who cares. I’m looking for the New Yorker to announce their 50 after death. My chin looks like Charley McCathey’s. I do Dunkin not Starbucks and I can READ two pages a day. The last time I had sex was with George Clooney while the French guy made fries. The only poetry I read is Psalms. Successful writers… no such thing. No matter how efficacious, they are only as good as their next blah, blah, blah. I use my yoga mat as a beach raft and I carry a medium Decafe half n half mom jeans.

    I think therefore I am not.

    • you have us and we can read and write and there’s no such thing as a best friend past age thirty-three and past that age sex is not all it may once have been cocked up to be. so be with us in electronic angst and chastity.

      the new yorker’s 50 after death list is a treacherous place to be cuz how you gonna sue? did you see what they did with fitzgerald last month my god the guy’s been dead a while and you can tell. not to speak ill of the dead so i won’t i’ll just speak ill of the work it was an embarrassment to the man and did no credit to the magazine.

  9. I’m still thinking about yesterday’s post and how hard it is to feel bad for someone with an editor — a professional editor! — bleeding pages or no.

  10. Winona Ryder? Really?

  11. I’m thinking much darker thoughts tonight. My book critic friend who encouraged me to resume writing, who introduced me to my literary mentor and who wrote a glowing recommendation for my PEN application has just been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She has months – maybe. And in return for her faith in me, I like some sterile plant, have nothing to show for such generous nurturing: no scholarship, no agent, no return phone calls, nothing to blurb, no dedication page with her name at the top of the list–just manuscripts. The shame of this failing almost overshadows my happier memories of our two-and-a-half decades’ worth of adventures. In this night quiet I find no comfort.

  12. I’m thinking you all are some of the most entertaining people I “know”!

  13. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to just focus on getting paid to write annual reports and technical manuals. shoot me now.

  14. I’m thinking that the gates to hell have opened in the publishing world and all the ugly is gushing out. I’m thinking fuck editors, fuck the big houses, and, if it wasn’t for the recent acquisition of one that I’m as of this minute quite fond of, fuck agents. The writing…I like that. And because I find it necessary to eat, will throw it into the blood bath to see if it floats.

  15. Grande solo vanilla latte, no foam. Or a DD’s medium, xcream.
    And no skinny jeans. Sleek yoga pants & clogs. A scarf plus Attitude.

  16. I’m not much of a thinker, and possess the gift of procrastination. It’s pretty cool, and spares me a lot of bullshit. I’m damned near too lazy to hate, too.

    When I was young and thought too much-fuck, I was even a philosophy major- I met a guy just a few years older than me who was a psychiatrist, and an army Major. I was poor and struggling, he was coasting and had more money than Dow Chemical.

    I thought “Goddamn. I AM chopped liver.”

    Turns out that was a gift, though it didn’t come cheap.

  17. I could totally finish my novel if I lost 50 pounds first.

  18. I’m thinking about how my kids will remember me. This morning my 4th grader answered her wake up call with, “But I’m about to order blueberry pie.” At the bus stop she told us all about her dream. Turns out she was kidnapped and ended up in a pool where she was able to swim away to safety (she swam free style). Suddenly, she happened to see a vendor selling blueberry pie. “Daddy said I could have some but then you showed up in a car and started yelling at me not to eat it. You even shook me.”

    Shaken tween syndrome. Fabulous.

    There was, however, a happy ending. Turned out that she grabbed the vendor and his cart, including the blueberry pie, and took off.

    Yeah, this parenting thing is a fucking challenge.

    I’m also thinking how grateful I am for this forum. Thank you.

    As for Winona, the only part about her that piques my interest is her relationship with Johnny Depp. I’d love to see a documentary on just that.

  19. Who told you about me? Though I am over the jealousy stuff, I sure don’t write as much as I’d like to. If it weren’t for my blog, I’d never put pen to paper. (Or fingers to keypad.)

  20. “What are you thinking?”

    You pretty much hit all the high notes. And the low. I’m thinking there’s never enough time and never enough money and I do believe I am glad I am so far away from the physical locations frequented by writers of note. Out here in the desert, the sadness and loss are not so presently felt.

    I’m a liar. My heart is as broke as my bank account and my back.

  21. What about 40 over 50 for non-fiction? What about Katherine Hepburn? What about “yes, writing is cathartic?” I didn’t realize that was a bad thing. Saved my ass, but not my heart (Tetman). My back might make it thanks to a physical trainer.

  22. I’m thinking I dig your sense of rye humor. Or is that droll humor? Whatever.

  23. I don’t know what i would do without you Betsy. Your blog is like a lifeline, over and over again. Thank you for tossing us all the scraps of your amazingness.

  24. I’m thinking I’m like a one legged kid playing hopscotch and everything is fine until the end.

  25. The photo of Nova brings to mind what Taylor (Charlton Heston) said to her in the Planet of the Apes: You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
    Sort of my more muted reaction to a number of scenarios as outlined by Ms. Lerner.

  26. Ah, Ms. Lerner, what a posting. You finally pushed my mind to retort you! “What am I thinking?” Such a daring inquiry, of which result was comically juxtaposed all over creation today (in my world, at least).

  27. I’m thinking you could do these bits as stand up at writers’ conferences. Hilarious because they’re true makes the best material.

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