• 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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Many TImes I’ve Been Alone and Many Times I’ve Cried

In the do as I say not as I do department, I am not really writing. I am totally absorbed by my work as an agent. And I don’t mean the selling side, which is also intense and exciting and draining in equal measure, but the reading and editing, the coming up with titles and sub titles, all the million hummingbird wings that lift  a writer’s experience. I have been doing this a long time, plowing these fields, finding rocks in the rows. I know these doors and the fear behind each one. The hideous, glorious free fall, the finality that doesn’t end, the constantly evolving narrative of self and ego. Here is the forest and here are the trees. My life’s work as tailor, midwife, spy in the house of love. One of my writers who travels far and wide said I belonged behind my desk. But I heard curtain. There is simply nothing more difficult than cracking words out of your ass.

What keeps you from writing?

55 Responses

  1. i love you betsy

  2. Nothing.

  3. About the time someone told me I’m best suited behind a desk, I’d be bleeding pages. Why aren’t you?

  4. ‘..the finality that doesn’t end..’ I’m groaning.

    Book promotion stops me from writing. Plus editing and driving my damned kids. Plus baking and playing the piano and staring into space. Behind my curtain.

  5. I thought the lady on the right was a horrible warning against corsets until I saw the elongated tailbone. Now I don’t know WHAT to think. Distraction keeps me from writing.

  6. Sailing keeps me from writing. Working on the boat, working out changes, planning and researching trips, getting gear together, tweaking and refining . HBO and bills. Family and holidays.

    But now it is time.

  7. I am writing. Work and houses and cars and insurance get in the way. It is a sad existence to draw stories from. Unless everything I write from this day forward is based on a hollow memory of something I might have done long ago, I must mark off a little corner of my life for edgy adventure.

  8. The important business of being a mother.
    The important business of being a wife.
    The important business of being a psychologist.
    Money management.
    Clutter that is never finally resolved.
    Other people’s books.

    But really, the choice to not write.

  9. What keeps me from writing…forks?
    I have tried to type while eating with my left hand and typing with my right, (I am right handed), garlic mashed and pork gravy make computer keys stick together. I switched hands, chowda…eww what a mess, so my appetizer, M&Ms, entrée, Kisses, dessert, I don’t eat dessert because I’m on a diet.
    Seriously, not much keeps me from writing except maybe during my 9 to 5, ablutions and those moments when my mind needs to reboot ideas and sort subjects, which is usually done during my mindless, worthless, dumbass workday. At least your day revolves around the craft and art form of writing, mine deals with the entitled, arrogant, rude, self-serving, and sloppy consumer. I would add more adjectives but I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet.

  10. I started to make a list, but it was boring and not worthy of Betsy’s time or bandwitdth. The condensed version is “life” but mainly teaching and parenting. Plus, in a new twist, algebra homework. Long story, but I’m taking it again because math anxiety ain’t gonna kick MY sorry ass.


  11. The fact that I’m a want to be writer.

  12. Ashley Brilliant once said, “I could do great things if I weren’t so busy doing the little things.” Excuse? Delusion? Weakness? Reality? All of the above?

  13. Last week it was because we didn’t have power from the hurricane, finally got it back (I won’t get into the week before that), and then had 8 inches of snow at which point everybody was stuck in the house again for another 36 hours. A sick husband, wandering from room to room, beseeching me for tea and soup, all weekend was more than a buzzkill. I’m so hopeful for this week. It’s only Monday, right?

  14. There are many excuses not to write but I don’t think the day job needs to be one of them. I work in the medical field and there’s a long list of physicians who write. Abraham Verghese & Ethan Canin come to mind. Also, Gertrude Stein was initially studying medicine at Johns Hopkins.
    These people are my inspiration, not my excuse.

    • Toni Morrison reminds me that it is not my children who prevent me from writing. That blame belongs to only me.

      • Do I detect electrical power at your house?! Yay! Finally!
        I hope school is next.
        I can’t help but wonder what you did with your camera these past two weeks…

    • Yes, we have power and the kids are back to school full time. Thank you for asking. I cannot believe there are still some in my neck of the woods without. I see them amidst the revelers. They are skittish and their eyes are dark. All they want is for someone to stop and listen. The other day I saw a mom lamenting the fact that she hadn’t washed out her Pyrex bowl full of scrambled eggs. She was worried that it wouldn’t be salvageable. Another woman with rolled her eyes in severe judgment and all I wanted to do was deck her. Those without should always feel supported, no matter how ridiculous they sound.

      I haven’t done a thing with my camera. I suppose I haven’t been in the right head space.

  15. Work mostly. Crazy shit jobs that take up a lot of time and bring in little income. Then there’s the problem of being a do it myself homeowner, due in part to not having enough money to hire anyone, but also because I like it and can do a better job than many so called carpenters out there, especially the cheap ones. I have all sorts of projects going around here and the wolf is at the door, weather wise; it’s hard to hold a friggin’ nail when it’s 20 degrees and windy out. On a good day.
    Child care. That’s a priority. When my daughter was younger and took naps, I wrote an entire rough draft of a novel and started on a memoir while she napped for an hour and a half on my lap, cradling her with my left arm, pecking away at the keys with my right hand. Those were the days! She’s in school now, but most of the time during her school hours I’m at work, so it’s hard to squeeze writing time in.
    Guitar picking is a welcome distraction, clears out the cobwebs and helps me get my yayas out, but often an hour passes by before I know it.
    Walking is good. Makes me happy.
    This is what I find myself wondering often: What pen do I use to draw the line between sitting down to write in a lonely room and getting outside my head to experience the world?

  16. Everything and anything. No distraction is to trivial to address when I’m writing.

  17. What keeps you from writing?

    The stupidest things. Insecurity. Worry. The lack of interest from editors. Sheetrock dust. Interruptions. Starting all over from scratch after pounding out sixty pages. Questions about the story. Questions about whether I’m qualified to write about a certain subject, and how much research I should do to be considered qualified. That’s why I’m here right now. I’m procrastinating. (and whining)

  18. Fear.
    I am afraid of alienating those closest to me.
    I am afraid that what I write will have no impact.
    I am afraid that what I write will have an impact – a negative impact.
    This is what keeps me from writing. It is also what makes me start up again, every time – I will not let my fear stop me from doing what I love the most.

  19. Nothing keeps me from spinning stories. But I let a lot of things keep me from writing them down.

  20. Laundry, cleaning, kids, grandkids, hum drum. Lack of imagination. Fear.

  21. Shiny objects. So many shiny objects.

  22. Procrastination. Only that.

  23. What I want to know is, where the devil did that illustration come from? Looks like the before-and-after versions of putting on a corset. I feel I can’t write any more until I find out.

    • Like you said.
      I’m just guessing, but it looks like a Victorian x-ray depiction of the damage caused by corsets.

  24. Indecision. Insecurity. Lack of direction. Too much time spent studying what other people do to get a story written down. Too much time spent looking for a hand to hold.

  25. Socializing–looking for something in others I will only find on the page.

  26. sometimes I read something so beautiful it shakes my confidence. I mean some writers really know how to write, you know? there are sentences like this:

    In the pale, early light I shoot the rest of the film on the roll: a close up of her, framed in part by the line of the checkered tablecloth, which she’s wearing like a shawl around her bare shoulders, and another, closer still, of her face framed by her tangled auburn hair, and out the open window behind her, velvety cattails blurred in the shallow depth of field. A picture of her posing naked outside the car in sunlight that streams through countless rents in the veil of the cottonwoods. A picture of her kneeling on the muddy planks of the little bridge, her hazel eyes glancing up at the camera, her mouth, still a yard from my body, already shaped as if I’ve stepped to her across that distance. (Stuart Dybek)

    I’m a fucking hack.

  27. I want to blame it on the job and kids and the 1950’s ranch house that mirrors my own physical deterioration but it’s probably the self-loathing that really gets in the way.

  28. Insecurity. Indecision. My paying work, which is always behind. My inferiority complex. My superiority complex.

  29. all the million hummingbird wings that lift a writer’s experience.

    fuck that’s good! my wheel spinning is just wheel spinning and my excuses are ordinary as dirt and prolific as bacteria. blah, blah, blah.

  30. My own lack of self control. As in I like reading and sleeping and allow them to take over at the littlest inkling. I can’t even blame my kids and teaching right now because there aren’t any extra-curriculars taking place and I have a student teacher!

  31. All the shiny objects between my intention and the words.

  32. While I was out, I got a message from my partner on an important project, and an email. His wife’s cancer is back in a big way, and she is getting into radiation treatments again, and maybe chemo.

    He’s a mess, All I can do is offer support, and press on with my parts of the deal. But I will not, repeat, will not, so much as mention it to him.

    Our project details the people involved in the process of taking an idea and turning it into a boat, and some of the things that happen with the boats. It is so starkly unimportant compared to what is happening in their lives that I have no clever comparison.

    This is a man with a dozen or so good selling novels under his belt, who is disciplined and knows his business. He is not timid, lazy, or confused, but his life and priorities have changed.

    Think good thoughts for Sheila and Dick.

  33. Thank you, friends. Thank you.

  34. We now say the magic words to each other. We cuddle. And I look so forward to the aforementioned ‘magic words’ so much so as to be permanently ill-concentrated on the publishing of the memoir my mentors have prayed over, my best-seller in waiting, my M.F.A presented-wonderful-waste of how much I love re-living myself and for once someone has painted me in a picture called US. Those magic words being ‘I love you’ and I haven’t worried about a word since September. Back on the horsie I go. It’s hard though, you know, when you fall off.

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