• 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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Love Me Tonight Love Me Forever


I really want to know why the fuck you keep writing . I want to know who the fuck you are when you sit down at your desk and if that person is different from the one sitting down to a bowl of heart smart Cheerios. I want you to take your place at the Roundtable. I want you to ride with the Merry Pranksters. I want you tell Terry Gross how you used to be a cutter, and a boozer, and a pillhead, and a whore. Terry, writing saved my life, literally. Terry, I used to make up stories as a young girl. I pretended I was Anne Frank and I started keeping diaries just like her. This is my process. Terry, you’ve spoken with thousands of writers, are they all full of shit? Oh, Terry!  The key to creativity? Mania, sorrow, a fascination with bodily functions. Shame, fear, a day of perfect never ending rain. Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wing? Raymond Carver, come here! Is this what we talk about when we talk about rugs? What is this fucking need to write shit down?

Will anyone love me?

65 Responses

  1. I was a boozer and still a pillhead. That might scan nicely. Mania, yes. Full of shit, yes, but I call my writing revisionist history. The wrong people chose to love me. Not my problem.

  2. I want to know who the fuck I am when I sit down at my desk, too. I’ve never been a cutter or a pillhead. A boozer is debatable. Would that win me some sort of literary prize? If so, I’m in. I’m reserving whore for my next life. Glad I have something to look forward to, there.

    Why do we keep writing? I’m not sure any of us knew we had an option.

    And we all love you, Betsy. Sorry, but you’re stuck with us.

  3. The idea, the story, the language, the pain and joy. Still, there’s mystery.

  4. This really got me thinking, to the point that I started writing this elsewhere lest I hit the publish button too soon–and why? Why the need to make some silly blog post reply “right?” Why do the sentences matter? Why did I go back and add quotes to that word? Why did I literally just stand in front of a group of college freshmen talking about the importance of revision, the need for strong sentences in this world? I want to say because the world needs them, or that I need them, but that’s so lame. We were probably better off with pointy sticks and drawing shit on caves. Maybe I once thought I had something to say, got addicted to the writing crack, and never gave it up, and now I can lie and call it a healthy addiction–the way some people run or eat celery. I hate admitting that I get cranky if I don’t write, because it sounds so goddamn pretentious but it’s also so goddamn true. Do you capitalize “goddamn”?

    I said it once before on this blog and I’ll say it again: The only alternative to writing is not writing, and fuck that.

    Terry, I write because I fucking love it, because it’s the shit that makes sense. Football could have made sense, but I got lucky.

  5. See, this is where you lose me. There are people who think all actors are like that, but they aren’t all like that. And there are people who think all writers are like that, and maybe a lot of them are, but hardly any I know are.

  6. I really want to know why the fuck I keep writing. Here’s some why the fuck whys: I’ve invested too much time and energy and fortune and life in it to give up now. I give up now I might as well put a bullet in my head because I’m saying my life, my entire fucking life, has been a fucking waste. That’s one of the why the fuck whys.

    Here’s another: because when I write I can talk without having to risk the wrong words stumbling out all tongue-tiedly and without there having to be anyone there who might interrupt me or shout me down or cause me shame by calling me out as a fraud and a fool.

    Here’s one: because when I was a kid no one would listen to me and they were stupid and I was not and I swore I’d show them all one day. And I was too scared to be a mass-murderer and too flighty to be a financial captain and too megalomaniacal to settle for anything less than to be at the center of a universe of my own devising.

    Here’s another one: because I thought I was important and what I witnessed was important and I wanted the whole fucking world to love me for it for all time.

    The fuck who I am when I sit down to write is the same fuck who I am at every other time. The same fuck I’ve always been. Mr. Bad Faith. Mr. I’m going to make art out of my life. Mr. watch out if you end up in bed with me you may end up in one of my stories or poems. Watch what secrets you tell me because I’ll use them. I’ll gussie them up and call them my stories. I’m the sleazy creepy son of a bitch who just the other day was thinking how if something happened to my wife, something like sudden death or some dismal fate more lingering, oh I’d be oh so sad yes I would but I would start writing about it right away–right away! Hit me with your best shot, God, I’ll be your arty little boy, I’ll be your old and bent scribe, I’ll do it. You want to stop me? Kill me. (God, please don’t kill me, I’m not done yet. Please don’t maim me, please don’t take my mind, please don’t chop off my hands and cut out my tongue. Please. I am begging you, right here in front of all these strangers. Please.)

    You want me to tell Terry Gross how there’s not a fucking genuine thing about me? Oh, Terry come talk to me, I’m a real writer. You’re not going to find many like me because Terry, I don’t give a fuck and I do give a fuck–at the same time! Terry, it’s fucking magic, and I make it happen, right here and right now. Terry, I tell you truly, I always lie. My whole life is a lie. But it’s mine! I made it out of the shit that was dumped on me. Oh, Terry, I don’t mean to say I think I’m special or something because of the shit that was dumped on me, we all get shit dumped on us and look at the millions who really and truly get royally crapped upon–but my shit is special, Terry, you’ve never seen anything like it, it’s carved into cunning shapes and sprayed with something that looks like gold.

    Love. Yeah. That’s it. Isn’t that it? I used to paint and make mixed-media garbage. About ten years ago I realized–probably when I was high one day, probably when I was about three weeks into a two-month binge–I realized in one of those druggy epiphanies that I made art because I wanted to be loved. Not to advance the form or increase the store of human knowledge or because I had something particularly important to say or give. But to be loved. Boy, did that ever take the wind out of my painty collagy sails. But it didn’t stop me from writing. That’s different or it’s not. Doesn’t matter. Not to me (but don’t I always lie? Didn’t I say…?)

    Now I write because I can’t stop. I don’t dare stop. Love me, hate me, spurn me, read me, it doesn’t matter anymore–I can’t stop.

  7. Where else could I sit at my desk all day in my pajamas, eating potato chips, with ER episodes playing as my background music? Where?!

  8. Betsy’s late fragment (call yourself feel yourself beloved)

    The person sitting down at my desk to write is the one grace pulls out of acid coke booze food television Danielle Steele angry birds and all the other never-ending stories.

  9. just trying to figure out some things. i kinda write the same story. it’s a story about a journey, real or imagined, where people often don’t respond because they don’t know what to say. there’s swearing and sex.

    i dunno. keeps me young in that fucked up kinda way?

  10. I keep writing because we are almost there–I can smell it. Also, when I sit down, there is none of the drama that hopefully comes out on the page. Sitting down is a behavior, sitting down every day (or at least almost everyday) is a behavior that has become a habit. If words are produced on more days than they are not, you have a writing habit. It is not sexy or exciting. Nor does it look the way writers are portrayed (in fiction) (by other writers I should add) who, for some reason like to pretend that people who spend enormous amount of time sitting, staring at a computer screen, wearing sweats, and shoving carbs down their throat look nothing at all like a bloated Gollum and are somehow brilliant, thinspo, sexy self-suffering creative magicians with a Diet Coke in one hand and a nasty Marlboro Ultra Light habit.

    When I think of 87 reasons why I can’t sit down, well that’s behavior too. It’s called escape behavior. When the “not writing” becomes more punishing than the “writing” I will sit down and do it.

    But still–why even start? Why do I want to do this thing? Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

    1. It’s attention seeking behavior (no doubt about it.) Or at least it’s the hope for future attentions? Either way, you see how if this were the only reason it would be wise to jump ship now and take up lap dancing. The money is much, much better I hear.

    2. I happen to like writing (please don’t shoot me.) But I really do. I love finding the idea, planning how it might work, and being surprised when things do work and especially when they don’t.

    3. I’m always trying to write the book I want to read.

    4. It’s attention seeking behavior. (I mean, for God’s sake, I’m whoring around on other people’s blogs while trying to run my own dog and pony show on blogspot–let’s not kid ourselves.)

    5. When I am writing (almost everyday) and the story is coming together (mostly) it is self satisfying like no other job I’ve ever had. Clearly it must be because I’m currently doing a ton of it for free.

  11. All the observing, remembering, feeling, hoping, and sometimes hating; I’m too intense for real life. I’m continuously editing myself because no one can quite get how fucking beautiful the scenery, or see the bastard in accounting is doing the best he can. Writing is like scratching I WAS HERE into the Eiffel tower with a paper clip.

  12. I love this bloggie.

    (My grandson had his bris tonight — a Chinese mohel who converted and a regular ole mohel who was her husband. The foreskin was not saved, fyi….)

  13. I really want to know why the fuck you keep writing

    Can’t stop.

  14. Sending amore and grappa from italia

  15. I write because I enjoy it, it’s fun, it makes me feel good. Selfish, but true.

    And it’s hard to say who I am with a bowl of Cheerios but I know I’m not the same person when I’m writing as I am at the day job. Those two people live very separate lives.

    As far as this: “Will anyone love me?” I love what you write. Isn’t that the same thing?

  16. Like I’ve said before, it really did start early, with Harriet The Spy & Anne Frank & my little diaries with the lock. In some ways I’ve been doing this forever. In the adult, more professional realm, I’m just getting started.
    What else would I do?

  17. If I didn’t write, I would be cranky, ordinary, and underemployed. Now I’m just cranky.

  18. I haven’t always written. My first creation was in pencil: I was three when my mother taught me to draw Santa Claus. In my twenties, I wasted some years on photography. I fiddled with oil painting. I wrote songs for guitar. I watched the baby beast in “Alien” eat its way out. I write because it is my last great hope.
    And, Terry, I have always been such a fan of Fresh Air.

  19. On the wings of a bird sat a very small man who was sad because he spilled his drink and the pot he was about to load into a wooden bowl blew away in a sudden thermal updraft. His girlfriend had left him for a married psychiatrist and his best friends had died because they were wounded by life. He liked the view from high in the sky and wasn’t frightened by the looming shadow of a bigger bird. How worse a fate could await? He lost his grip and fell to earth, his guts spilled upon the ground for all to see. The man shoved his insides back into place as well he could and thought about writing down his life, but decided against it and wrote instead of anothers’ fate because it all seemed connected and he couldn’t wait to see what came next.

    Write on, my friends, right on.

  20. I am another person when I write. I write nonsense and I love what I write and I make myself laugh.

  21. I can’t look at this lock.

    When I was in 9th grade, I liked a popular girl’s boyfriend. She and her buddies took these locks off of their lockers, hooked them together, and when I was walking into the cafeteria they ran up and attached them to my belt loop to make a tail. The devil’s tail, they called it, laughing hysterically. One teacher even laughed. I spent the rest of that year’s lunch hours in a deserted 3rd floor bathroom, in a stall, sitting on a toilet, with my notebook.

    Maybe that’s why I’m a writer.

  22. You were listening yesterday, weren’t you? W. Kamau Bell’s interview was amazing. I’m going to go in search of a copy of his show HOW TO END RACISM IN ABOUT AN HOUR. He made me want to write. He made me want to put together a one woman show and perform it for 5 years. Maybe. One day.

    I remember the first time I Googled Brian Lehrer. I envisioned him looking completely different. I just did the same with Terry Gross and she’s exactly what I imagined. Even down to posing in front of a brick wall.

    It took me 44 years but I finally found a place to write. Really. It happened just a little while ago. I sat down at my 11 year old’s desk, up in the attic. I don’t know feng sui from a hole in the wall but I will tell you this corner I’m in feels right. I feel like I discovered the kind of space Stephen King writes about.

    It’s fucking exciting.

  23. I write because I have this one story to tell and after I finish that one, there are these others…
    I’m trying to keep it simple…so as to keep going.
    Betsy, you are an amazing mind, so talented, brilliant even, and yes, we already love you.
    Just a thought: have you ever considered meditation (emptying the mind of thought for even 5 minutes is where you start)? I really want to read your novel some day. It’s about keeping the chatter at bay just long enough to get those pages down. (Or so I’m telling myself these days.)

  24. The voices in my head won’t shut up about their lives until I write ’em down.

  25. “What is this fucking need to write shit down?”

    Bossiness. Passive aggression. A burning need to seduce everyone with my opinion–or club them over the head with it, as the case may be.

  26. We all want to be big stars,
    But we don’t know why and we don’t know how
    But when everybody loves me,
    I’m going to be just about as happy as can be

  27. What is this fucking need to write shit down?

    For me it’s like running. It has become the sort of thing that now I’ve started – in earnest – I can’t stop. Once I ran a marathon, I lost a total of four toenails, and suffered heat exhaustion but by God, I finished the damn race. That’s the way it is with writing for me. Now, I can’t quit until I cross the finish line – if only the damn thing would quit moving.

  28. I couldn’t even tell you why. I have always been a reader and writer…actually I didn’t even know I was a writer of any sort until my 8th grade English teacher pointed it out to me. And I was like, “Really?” Writing has always been my way to cope, but nothing exciting to cope with. Some teenage angst and an overbearing mother.

  29. because my mother will never love me because she’s dead.

    how’s that for pathos?

  30. I write to leave something behind. It may all end up in a landfill someday, but it will hardly matter then, will it?

  31. Nothing feels more important than writing.
    I could be a combat corpsman, cure cancer, prevent a nuclear war, hoist the peckers and moisten the vaginas of every old codger and codge-ette on earth, but I would still feel like a loser if I didn’t come home
    and write.

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