• 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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Let’s Admit We Made a Mistake But Can’t We Still be Friends

Is it me or is it weird that the NYT reports in a front page article that Philip Roth has decided to stop writing. I guess they report it when a sports figure decides to retire or a Supreme COurt Justice steps down. Most people just fade away, and by most people I mean writers.  I’m an avid Roth fan. I think I’ve read pretty much everything he’s ever written  and I’ve defended him to feminists for years.  I’m just not digging the public au revoir.   In fact, I’m pretty certain he’ll write another book once he gets bored playing with his iPhone. According to the article, Roth has a post-it note on his computer that says, “The struggle with writing is over.” Why stop there, it sounds perfect for a headstone. “Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s like baseball: you fail 2/3 of the time. I can’t face any more days when I write five pages and throw them away. I can’t do that anymore.”

What’s on your post-it?

60 Responses

  1. Same thing as Roth.

    This week, anyway.

  2. Allocate Manor basis
    MC [main character]: get sandy as Taliban

    Roth is exquisite. If he’s happy not writing, let him be. It’s amazing how threatened lots of women are by him. I learned about writing and the male psyche from him. And about what makes a man sexy. I wish I could have been Joyce Maynard in an alternate Roth-universe.

    That said, I don’t believe writers stop writing when they retire.

    • The last time I heard of women readers being “threatened” by a male writer was in an English class discussion in high school. As if the only reason female readers would dislike Roth is because he’s too virile…I dislike Roth because I find his world view trivial, even though I live in a real world that is almost exclusively a figment of the male sexuality that is his obsession.

      • I live in the same world though I no longer allow it to dictate my life. I see Roth as trying to understand it and himself. And allowing others to look in from outside. I see him as brutally honest. I admire that as much as I admire his craft. We’re all assholes in one way or another.

  3. “Be fucking prolific.”

    We’ll see.

  4. “Believe” It’s a daily, sometimes hourly struggle.

  5. Prepare the terrain

  6. ‘Break the story, not yourself’. Oh and ‘GET MORE COFFEE’

    Also: ‘Write Less Post-It Notes’

  7. “Shut the fuck up and write.”

  8. Why do any of us publicly announce our decisions if not to get widespread approval? It is the quiet, unsought after choice that shines the strongest for it requires nothing from the outside.

    • As usual MSB you are wise but I’m shallow and weak, I need approval, unless of course, I’ve already made up my mind.

    • You couldn’t have mentioned this before I started a blog? 🙂

    • @MSB: You’re right, but A Decision can have many aspects. For me, there was the decision not to write, which I announced here (though not on my blog, where I simply stopped writing). The important part of this decision is what comes after: if not writing, what? I know the answer, but as you suggest, I’m keeping mum. Thanks for saying this. Helped me.

    • Seriously, msb… you should be writing philosophy, a book for the ages. It’s almost biblical, the way you write.
      I love going quiet; mute, esp. around super annoying people. It cultivates a very rich inner life. Fuels the writing, too.

    • And….sometimes a public announcement is made because there is no decision. Sometimes the person is really riding the fence. They may make a declarative statement and wait to see what’s said before they really know what they are going to do.

  9. The yellow post-its I took from work: My weekly schedule

    The white post-its, the free ones with lousy sticky-stuff that came as a thank-you gift for a donation to’ Save the Somebody’: wonder, wise, kisses, TP, PT (If Bimbo doesn’t come through I’ll have to chance my bread brand).

    The hot pink post-its I bought at the dollar store because the ones at Staples are too expensive and I’m afraid to steal more bad-karma ones from work: send column, pay bills, brush dog

    Another dollar store post-it, lime green, on the wall next to my old desk top: (it’s been there forever and it’s the Joseph Campbell words I live by) “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

    Do you really think the stolen ones have bad joo joo?

  10. Mine, written last night, says “Tell me a story.”

    (thanks for the 2/3rds reminder—I needed that)

  11. I made an agreement with a friend who also has a full-time job and young family. We lament that our favorite stories get the leavings of our attention and creativity. Our shared post-it, meant to remind us to give the best of our selves, our prime writing hour of the day, to the best story:

    Write the best hour first.

  12. You aren’t Philip fucking Roth. You can’t afford to stop writing yet.

  13. Write what only you can write.

  14. Mine says “Memento mori.” Some days I translate that as “Write or die,” and other days as “Write and die.” Ambivalence.

  15. Bigger than a post-it note, but this fit on my sticky app: “I think that our careers grow when we start accepting the world’s lack of enthusiasm as a given and face down the part of the problem that’s on us—that maybe, as individuals, we’re not quite good enough yet at what it is that we do.” -Katherine Boo

  16. On my Post-It: “Trust your strangeness.”

    I am an avid defender of the Roth faith too, but I am a little tired of Roth being tired of Roth.

  17. Vit D
    Vit C
    T Paste
    T Tree Oil
    Screw Eye
    Oven Light Bulb
    40W Bulbs
    Cat Stuff
    New Yorker

  18. “‘Write’ is an active verb.”

  19. “Bring it to me…Bring it on home to me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”

    It is stolen directly from the beautiful and divine Sam Cooke. Sometimes the post-it is another line from the same song, though.

    “You know I’ll always be your slave. ‘Til I’m buried, buried in my grave. Bring it to me”

  20. My writing post-it says two things:
    “Cultivate a reclusive life,” and
    “Romanticize the struggle.”

  21. My post notes says the only thing worse than the daily frustration of writing is the guilt when I don’t write and should.

  22. “Reach out and love the people around me.”

    Because as a teacher I see many people in a day and there are many ways to show love/caring.

  23. You need to do what only you can do.

  24. Crap, I don’t have a Post-It note. We’re supposed to have Post-It notes?! What the hell kind of writer am I?

  25. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

  26. Looking around my desk area, I noticed that most of my post-its have usernames and passwords to all sorts of on-line accounts. Thankfully, I work at home; there is little need for security controls here! Still, viewed together, they create an interesting haiku.

  27. Keep it in mind and then you’ll find it.

    My daughter was giving me directions to a favorite daycare playpark — Go across a road, hold hands, especially the little kids, then go behind a building — and finally crossed her arms, exasperated by my ineptitude, and said the above quote, her final say on the matter. We circled around until actually finding this little horrorshow of a playground, right next to a parking lot and with a sandbox that doubled as a litterbox for some apparently well fed cats. She was happy as can be after I unwrapped the swing chains from the top bar and pushed her so she could sail through the air, going forward and coming back.

  28. Talent is a long patience. –Flaubert

  29. Just stuck another post-it up. It snapped a knot in my ass.

    The trouble is, you think you have time.

  30. “Write what you don’t know.”

    I think that came from some article in Poets & Writers or WD – not sure.

  31. Fortune favors the brave.

  32. I’m feeling very insecure right now. I have no post-its.

  33. It used to say “do it anyway” but in a pathological spate of OCD I did a feng shui overhaul on my writing room. Now all I have next to my computer screen is a glass mermaid basking tits-up against an arrowhead.

  34. Don’t have one but if I did it would be in all caps with redundant exclamation points: GET OFF YOUR ASS AND WRITE !!!!!!!!!!

  35. It’s not you. It is weird. The post-it note by my computer screen says SUN BLOOD DIRT. To stay grounded. In the world and in the work. That is the challenge.

  36. “Never dilute your act” — given me by my sister Zona Rosan and wonderful friend, Connie Baechler

  37. My post-it says “Read and share Betsy Lerner’s whip-smart thoughts.” Not really, but I do share your posts all around as I so enjoy them. Totally agree about Roth – didn’t it say it was his last interview too? Find it incredible and a little silly. My mantra…read, sip, write, sip, knit, sip, breathe.

  38. Bit late to the party, my apologies. My post-its are multiple (“Check every chapter for setting,” “Don’t give the reader info, give them experiences,” etc.), but those are just reminders. The keystone post-it says, “The artist is nothing without the gift. But the gift is nothing without the work.”

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