• 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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I Was Dreaming of a Steel Guitar Engagement

A lot of people fuck off between Thanksgiving and New Year. Writing routines, diets, exercise, sending work out, etc. It all gets subsumed by the holiday, by family, by suicidal ideation. It’s really difficult to stay on track, to keep getting up at five and cracking a few pages out of your ass. Is anyone out there? Does anyone care? Who am I writing for? Myself? Philip Roth? Moshe Pipick? You have to be your own hole. You have to wonder how Mick Jagger does it? You have to attack attack attack. You can not rest, can not let this moment result in the sad realization that you suck. Take the brief case. Take the hammer. Take the lost tribe Ireland. Do not let people laugh at you. Do not be deterred. Do not quit. Not now. Not yet.

A prequel to new year’s resolution: what are you going to get done between now and the new year? Writing-wise?

55 Responses

  1. I’m going to decide once and for all whether Colette Bertrand is a socialist (autocorrect just wanted to change that to divi flimsy, which I kinda prefer) or a communist, and I’m going to finish her timeline, while I’m at it. I’m going to finish all this reading on post-liberation France. I’m going to send out this short story I just finished. And I’m going to write something from the perspective of a tip jar. In short.

  2. 3 stories.

  3. I’m a workaholic, always have been, so I’ll continue to plug away. I’m in the homestretch of the third novel I’ve written this year. Once I send it to my readers for feedback on Dec. 7th, I’ll dive right into the fourth novel and hopefully have half of it finished by New Years.

    I had a referral to an agent (Chip MacGregor) from one of his clients so I’m also ready to learn more and make that novel better if we’re a good fit.

    What will you be doing, Betsy?

  4. writing-wise, wisely writing would be the meat to beat. i have 2.33 books to finish reading in the so-far-fourteen-or-so-months prep of the project i’ve been prepping for so many months, then comes the construction of the work (a rewrite of a screenplay into… something else). in the back office of scribal geist & sons i’m revising and updating my litmags table whilst also keeping abreast of small press deadlines and meeting them whenever i like their looks. come twelfthnight i should be nigh unto ready for the spring litmag season and perennial agent chase and never never never dast i pause to wonder if it’s all worth it because of course it is not but what else is to be done i am neither doctor nor saint.

  5. I am going to finish the second draft of this damned YA novel that has been in the works for way too long. I need it to be in my editor’s hands before February for my own sanity.

  6. I am going to edit and re-edit. Then throw half of that out and rewrite. Thank you, this came at just the right time. I have been casting my words out into the world and wondering if any of those seeds found fertile soil….I needed to be reminded that they grow through me and that is enough, for now.

  7. We’re too neurotic and anal to quit writing, although the diet we completely scrap.

  8. Writing-wise I will still be plugging away at writing out an episode a day, waiting for the sequence of the memoir to click into place.

    Otherwise, I’m plugging away at “Les Mis”. I have 1300 pages left and want to finish by the weekend after Christmas so I can see the movie with my mom!

  9. I am outlining a two goal, high concept novel.

  10. MOSHE PIPICK! MOSHE PIPICK! MOSHE PIPICK! That’s who it’s been. All this time.

  11. I AM GOING TO STOP STUFFING AROUND WITH MY FUCKING STORY ORDER AND SEND MY FINAL MANUSCRIPT TO ME EDITOR

  12. I AM GOING TO STOP STUFFING AROUND WITH MY FUCKING STORY ORDER AND SEND MY FINAL MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITOR.

  13. There’s a very real possibility I could finish my first draft–3 maybe 4 chapters ( intense ones tho) but that would make the most incredible new year’s for me …

  14. I’m not laying off of writing. I’m working on some essays to post on an new blog site I’m developing and I’m always working on my short stories.

  15. Five weeks, five columns; I have a deadline.
    Ten, maybe more, but not less, blog posts; every writer, actually every person over a certain age should write what I just posted; a lifetime, sort-of, in 600 words.
    Christmas cards with a personal note in each one. Screw it. I haven’t sent any in years, why start now.
    At least ‘work’ on finishing first draft of next novel. The story still rattles around in my heart; gotta do it.

    • After rereading Betsy’s post, and Googling, I have come to the conclusion that I am way not Jewish enough to catch the drift, wait, I’m not Jewish at all. I am way not anything…but a believer.

  16. I will be finishing the first draft of my second novel, a thriller titled IN THE RED. I will finish come hell or high water or New Year’s Eve — whichever comes first.

  17. I’m going to shock my editor by getting a column in well ahead of deadline, and start on at least one project that’s new ground for me, an area I’ve never touched. I’ve never thought about writing it, but Lola, who knows what happened way back then, surprised me by telling me that I ought to write it, and why. She is the smarter of us, and sometimes I listen to her.

  18. More queries for one book (though I’m suddenly worried about the first three chapters, so I may withdraw and concentrate on those first), editing an old shipwreck that might actually be seaworthy, and trying to choose among the three possible plots that I had to fight off with sticks while I finished up my last project.

  19. I am sitting here in a cafe, writing, reading, and writing. But you know, how nice out there, a Bangkok night in a holiday season!

  20. Thank-you Betsy. For my N.Y.R.’s prequel I will finish the first draft of my screenplay. It’s migrated from my desktop computer, to my laptop, to my Alphasmart, to yellow, blue and mauve legal pads, in an effort to avoid me.

  21. I’m going to revise 10,000 words.

  22. I’m going to find my mojo. I’ve misplaced it.

  23. I usually get more done this time of year than in the summer. I have some revising to do, a query letter to polish up until it shines like the new quarters my father’s father used to give us after we lined up to endure his stubbly bearded kisses and hugs, and begin work on something new that’s been kicking around in my brain, a hibernating bear with insomnia and a powerful hunger for shriveled up winter blueberries and rodents tunneling through the snow.

  24. Well… in my current spirit of writer’s rebellion I’m writing the one thing that no one in the industry will want:
    A novella.
    The piece demands it and I’m tired of trying to shape my stuff to someone else’s vibe.

  25. No travel is planned, and I’ve already refused every single holiday gathering except the one at my house on xmas eve. And we no longer buy gifts in our family. This means I’ll be writing on the same schedule as always.

    The diet, not so much. This is my season of dumplings and potatoes and pie. Hallelujah.

    • My mother-in-law informed us that instead of gifts she’ll be making a donation to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. That made me like her even more, although it pissed off my brother-in-law. And my wife wonders if it’s just a ploy to avoid going shopping.

  26. I hope to write a little and revise a lot – I have a goal to submit 2 pieces between now and New Years, which will be about it with school and all.

  27. I’m teaching a 10-day class on dialogue right smack in the middle of the advent, which means, I’ll be fucking around in the space between ” and ” a lot.

  28. Starting today I’m going to ascend the stairs to my sanctuary in the attic and see what evolves. Knowing that the only expectation I have to fulfill is putting one foot in front of the other is not only achievable, it is reassuring.

  29. Perfect timing on this post …I’d heard about the lull that swoops down over the publishing world at this time of year. Not much gets done, right? Few manuscripts are sold, so I guess we should all quit asking Santa for that perfect holiday “gift” a.k.a. book contract. Everyone’s budgets are maxed out and now one has to wait for the first quarter for the coffers to be filled again.

    I’ll be working on the 3rd “backlist” book, and digging into the research for it. I can’t say I ever stop writing…, I was accused of writing during Thanksgiving dinner. There was no other explanation for the lack of an answer to a direct question or the slack jawed look on my face.

  30. I want to write the second third of my new novel. I don’t care if that’s overly ambitious. I’m getting it done.

  31. Finish revised memoir draft. Finish query letter.

  32. I just sent out my play to theaters. I want to beat the submission blues (vulnerability SUCKS) by starting something new. A story about a little boy kidnapped by a parallel universe — though his parents think he’s in a coma…called The Peekaboo Project.

    30 pages by New Year’s. Thank you Betsey, for this post!

  33. I’ll finish my second novel. Hope to start editing on the 8 hour flight back home in December, but I might be too busy drinking myself into a happy stupor.

  34. September through January are typically productive months for me. Not sure why, but I take full advantage.

    This year, I’m finishing up the rewrite of a project I had thought was finished. Not much left and I’m astounded that I hadn’t seen this during the previous writing/editing. It’s so obviously the best fit.

    In almost all aspects of life, I find myself taking the long way around.

  35. A fucking story board. I fucking hate story boards.

  36. That’s in six weeks. Nothing big on the horizon.

  37. If you like Mick, check out Crossfire Hurricane on hbo. Get that into your writing and the battle’s won.

  38. I’m gunning for a full 6 hours of sleep in a row. All bets are off until that happens.

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