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    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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Long May You Run

One last question for 2012: How are you going to spend more time writing? Rise early? Work late? Get off the internet? Turn off the phone? Write long hand? Keep a notebook with you at all times? Throw away old projects that are never going to work. Really, get rid of them. Go to a writer’s conference. Quit TV. Read more. Two pages a day. Join or form a writer’s group. Start smoking. Read poems! Get therapy! Get meds! Take a walk!

Thank you all again for joining me at the Lerner Bar & Grill these past four years. I already miss you. And, with only a few exceptions like the guy who wanted to kill me with a pitchfork, I love you all. Happy and healthy new year. Now FTF. xxoo, Betsy

57 Responses

  1. All of the above (well, except for the smoking part, and I hope no meds, but you never know). Thanks Betsy for all your great posts that made me think, laugh, nod my head, shake my head. All good. Have a great 2013.

  2. I have been pondering all you mentioned, especially reading poems and taking meds…oh, and smoky walks.

  3. To answer the last question…Damn if I don’t get up earlier and earlier to get this book done. Today was 3 in the morning. I’m loving the extra productive time, but I know I’ll be ready for a nap at about noon. Still…the writing’s moving faster and faster, so I’m in for the ride.

    Happy New Year to Miss B and all of you wacky bar and grill diners! I miss you.

  4. Once work resumes on January 7th, it’s going to have to be “rise early.” It’s pretty much the only time I have enough energy and the house is somewhat quiet. Although, my house is no where near quiet now (Winter Break) and I seem to be getting lots of writing done–thank you Klipsch head phones. So it really must just be the challenge of trying to make my brain do the two very different things, switching between the type of thinking required for my job, and the type of thinking required for writing. Thus, stress. Stress is like a creativity killer for me. So what will I do to be less stressed in 2013 so that I can relax enough to sit down and write? This question frightens me because I remember what my January-March work calendar looks like (even though I’ve successfully avoided looking at it for the last week.)

    So I’m left with–not really sure. Maybe learn to “turn off” thoughts about all the things that keep me up at night. Learn to stop thinking about work when I’m at home.

    Now I feel like I need to go browse the self-help section at B&N.

  5. Merci Madame pour tous. Bonne Année, it’s gonna be a great year.

  6. Ah, Betsy, so good to get just one more question from you. Thanks again for everything, and here’s wishing you and yours a spectacilar 2013.

    I won’t do much writing for the first three months, as there will be long days of work and travel. But I’ll keep notes on some of the characters and stories.

    In April, the writing will pick up, and the sailing. That means keeping a log, a fine tool for pinging the memory later, and recalling what wind and water have served up.

    Stay well, and watch out for pitchforks and forked tongues.

  7. No way!!!! One more post?!!! How lucky are we??? More writing! Yes!!! Thank you, Betsy. Someone else said this once before but writing isn’t about inventing the wheel, right? It’s about conviction. Long May You Reign Supreme! Here’s to a year of living happy. xo

  8. Happy New Year Betsy, and all who cruise her, wherever you are. Love from rain-lashed Hastings, England.

  9. Thank you, Betsy, and have a good “slide” into the New Year as they say around here in Switzerland. Look, your question is The Question, but since I can’t feasibly prevent the kiddos from getting sick etc. (or prevent myself from, you know, being a mom), I will say that the only way I will spend more time writing is to hope I have more time to spend writing. No easy answers, no recipes, just hope.

  10. Aaaw Betsy… You’re the best and I shall miss you dearly in the years, months & days to come. Rock on Woman!!!

  11. As usual, you honed in on what’s on the mind of us hangers-on who are contemplating the reality of 2013. For me, it’s focus, focus, focus. Which of course means less internet. I WILL write more this year. God knows I could hardly write less. Happy New Year, Betsy. And I hope you’ll drop in and let us know when one of “your” authors publishes. I’ve read some very good books, thanks to you.

  12. Thank you! You’ve been a great source of cheer in 2012. All the best from British Columbia.

  13. I quit TV on Christmas when Leverage ended.

    Other than that, the plan is to FTF like a boss. Or possibly a junior executive . . .

  14. I had to Google FTF. After perusing a number of links, among them: slang books, a gun lover’s site, and the essays of Terry Castle (writing? what writing? who has time to write?), I found the following list:
    Acronym Definition
    FTF Face To Face (in person)
    FTF Fédération Tunisienne de Football (French: Tunisian Football Federation; Tunisia)
    FTF For the Future (various organizations)
    FTF Finalization Task Force
    FTF Finalization Task Force (OMG)
    FTF Fundamental Train Frequency (bearing vibration)
    FTF Future Total Force (USAF)
    FTF Fugitive Task Force
    FTF For the Find (geocaching)
    FTF Feel the Force
    FTF For The Fail
    FTF For The Fame (band)
    FTF Flexible Technical Foils
    FTF Filter Test Facilities
    FTF Fiber Termination Frame
    FTF Federal Telecommunications Fund
    FTF Full Time Father
    FTF Fuel Transport Facility
    FTF FreeTradeFXP (online FXP group)
    FTF Freezer to Fryer (food items)
    FTF Further to Follow (police)
    FTF Ford Truck Fanatics (automotive fanclub)
    FTF Failed to Find (geocaching)
    FTF Fat Tire Festival (bicycle festival; various locations)
    FTF Family Tree Forum (website)
    FTF Flexible Target Family
    FTF First to Fight (computer game)
    FTF First to File (patent management)
    FTF Freescale Technology Forum
    FTF Five to Fifteen (parental questionnaire)
    FTF Fight the Future (X-Files movie)
    FTF First-Time Freshman (education)
    FTF Fill the Front
    FTF Failure to Fire
    FTF Farmer-To-Farmer (Peace Corps program)
    FTF First Time Fix
    FTF First Time Father
    FTF French Tennis Federation (France)
    FTF First Things First (Chattanooga, TN family strengthening program)
    FTF Failure to Fly (suicide by jumping)
    FTF Failure to Feed (A self loading firearm malfunction)
    FTF Fresher Than Fresh (Gastonia, NC)
    FTF First to Find (geocaching)
    FTF Fair Trade Federation

    Feel free to comment, as I love your writing.

  15. Read poems and take a walk, that’s how. I’m missing your posts too. They were a sassy and freaky and jarring and warming start to my northern Italian days. I need to bitch with someone. Hope 2013 is super for you, creative and marred and wonderful. I’ll send you my book of stories when they come out. Un’abbraccio cat

  16. Betsy, we miss you so. All our blogs have plaintive little comments like the baby birds chirping for mama. I hope this means you’ll post once in a while, when the mood strikes.

    As for me, it’s not writing I need to do more of. It’s living. I just bought a new camera and have plans to get the hell off the couch and use it, try to reacquaint myself with the world outside my head.

    Love and Happy New Year to everyone. (Except the pitchfork guy. I’ll bet it’s the same dude who once told me to fuck off and die. Oh what fun we’ve had!)

    • ‘baby birds chirping for mama’
      Averil you are amazing, love it.
      W

    • averil, could the pitchfork guy be the same guy you commented about on my website in a moderated comment you asked me not to publish and remains the only unpublished comment in the archives of my site? if so, his name can be the name that doesn’t need to be published here. he hasn’t been around in quite a while. he was of some concern. i hope he found what he was looking for and didn’t have to hurt anybody to do it.

      happy new year, dear friend. and to all you dear friends. and even the pitchfork guy, if he happens to be lurking hereabouts.

  17. i’m contemplating having shirts made up that say WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? across the boobs, and wearing them until i’m finished. who am i kidding? it’s never finished.

    in the meantime, there are educational plans, retreat plans, and daily writing plans.

  18. Read definitely. But otherwise a combination of less TV and smartphone! Nice to hear from you again Betsy! I did get the books – thank you! Can’t wait to read them.

  19. Happy New Year! Once the suitcases are unpacked, the work emails cleared, I’m going to FTF the only way I know how: writing as much as I can, as often as I can, to ward off the panic it will never be done. 6am-6:45am every morning is when it will happen, but the finish line is still around a few more bends, over some heavy gravel, past some overhanging trees I’ll need to clear. But it’s *there*. This time I really believe that. Hope you all find lots of good things on the road ahead in 2013.

  20. i’m going the bang my ruby slippers together three times, murmur, “there’s no thang like writing, there’s no thang like writing, there’s no thang like writing…,” and pitch into it as i always do, in emulation of sissy fuss himself rolling growing balls up an ever-steepening hill of beans.

    (no, all i’ve had so far this evening is chocolate and tea.)

    happy new year, dammit!

    • I’m going to make that my mantra, Tetman. “There’s no thang like writing, there’s no thang like writing!” and tape it the floor next to my bed. That way, it’s the first thing I read in the morning. Happy first day of 2013!

  21. Bought new a notebook. Didn’t finish the old one. Need a clean page. A do over.

    Thanks for everything here. Lurkdom has made a devastating year, survivable.

    As my eleven-year-old says, “Peace, out.”

  22. Betsy you are already missed too. I wish for you everything you want in this year, and thank you so much for you engaging voice and lovely, funny, warm posts.
    Happy New Year.

  23. Here’s to ruby slippers and the new year and the fine fine crew here at the best bar and grill on the interwebs. Much love to you all. Let’s finish these fuckers, shall we.

  24. Starting 2013 off with a Betsy Lerner post gives me hope. Lifting my coffee cup to all of you. Extra round of meds on me.

  25. A critical eye and jettisoning the vanilla in favor of a little caliente. Changes the flavor, but I need a little spice and if I don’t take a chance with this recipe, I’m going to wind up with something too cheesy and not exciting to the palate. How am I going to spend more time writing? Experimentation. Might not always work, but as long as I don’t blow up the kitchen, I’ll be okay.
    And best wishes for 2013!

  26. The Lerner Bar & Grill….

    *sigh*

  27. I click this blog which I knew to be dead … and voila! Maybe I will spend more time writing; maybe I will turn out more pages. Surely my writing will improve now that I’ve read some of the shitty stuff I penned in 2012. Yes, 2013 promises to be a banner year, but I will miss your ass, Betsy Lerner.

  28. May it be a great year. I’m squeezing in words wherever I can. Life has gotten overwhelming, but dammit I am going to write. Somehow. I love those ruby slippers and all they imply.

  29. 2013. A new beginning, A renewed sense of purpose and clarity,.. a new notebook and a new page on which to write, like footprints in fresh snow. Here comes THE DESTRUCTION OF THE COMPENDIUM, and I can’t wait. Whatever is meant for you will not pass you by x

  30. I’m still trapped in my 2011-2012 conundrum of integrating the confusing business side of writing with the creative side. It is the reason I ventured into this bar in the first place.
    So… I don’t know. There is little balance in those contradictory worlds for me. Right now I’m limiting the internet, writing fiction in a floppy notebook and allowing the rest to fall where it will. I’m embracing fortifying cliches: cafes, wine, pens & paper, arty friends and my city – a literary haven of old. I’m allowing work to inspire me, too.
    Write well in 2013 everyone. Happy to see you, Betsy.

  31. Hey Betsy, what a nice surprise. If I can get back in the groove of writing my new novel, JEWISH AMERICAN PRINCE, it’ll be a chapter a week, like I did with my previous novels. That’s my method. Once I stick to it, I never fail, like turning on the TV and tuning into the next episode. I never know what’s going to happen, so I can’t wait to tune in. At least, that’s the psychology I try to enforce on myself. If I find myself agentless when it’s done (who knows?), guess who the first person I’ll query will be? You got it, kid. Have a great New Year.

  32. I ordered a Pedal Desk last month, to maximize all that time I spend sitting on my dead ass. Who am I kidding? Now I have just another reason to avoid writing.

    Hope 2013 is filled with terrific surprises for you, Betsy, and the rest of the gang at the bar.

  33. In 2013? Less cul-de-sacs, More thru-streets. A longer view. Better vision. Or maybe it’s the relationship between seeing and doing that needs tweaked.

    Happy New Year, everyone, and may your fuckers be forever finished.

  34. Dayum….,and yes, I do say that. (Averil – you would def poke fun at my accent)

    I knew any acronym used by Betsy would have fuck in there somewhere. But, I had fun trying to figure FTF out, although I’m glad someone spilled the beans b/c none of what I came up with worked with the xxoo. (Ex: Fuck This Fucker)

    Writing wise? Working on the 3rd book and I seem to work really well using the 1,000 wpd goal – if I get more, great, if I don’t, tomorrow is another day. The 1st is still on submission, while the second awaits its turn.

    To Betsy and all of you … here’s to outlandish success…, today, tomorrow, and for as long as it’s fun.

  35. In front of mirror, dressed in lovely designer (Sears) ratty blue bathrobe, hairbrush in hand…my speech; wiping steam from the glass…

    I want to thank Betsy Lerner for asking, “One last question for 2012:”
    It spurred me to actually state on my new blog a timetable for my book. As many of you know I was Wry Wryter; I try not to reference that old bitch, she was me but I am no longer her.

    As Carolynnwith2Ns I am stepping out from behind the curtain, posting, hoping for comments and linking some of my published ‘Enough Said’ columns. I am told I have a fan base, I am told I have a following, I am told many things but when a stranger comes up to me in the produce aisle and mentions that they like what I write I turn around and look, “…who me…was that me you were talking to?” Like I have said, ‘I am a minnow in a mud-puddle’. I am swimming now, broader strokes looking for clearer water and a larger pond. For the lurkers, stragglers and friends, and especially for Betsy here at Lerner’s Bar and Grill, if you have the time come on over and see what a new beginning looks like.

    In front of mirror, dressed in lovely designer (Sears) ratty blue bathrobe, hairbrush in hand…wait minute who are all these people in my bathroom?

  36. Wake up earlier. Go to Monday writers’ group more often. Start going to Shut Up and Write on the weekends. No Internet till 11am. Start writing in my baby notebook again. Stop talking myself out of stories before I’ve even written a word of them. Keep reading. Keep observing. Keep stretching. Keep trying. Keep believing.

    And you, Betsy? What’s your plan?

  37. I found this helpful
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/01/on-writing-in-the-morning.html
    and interesting.
    Thanks for the post Betsy! Happy New Year all!

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