• 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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Another Opening Another Show


People ask me what I’m working on next. It takes a few minutes to get my tap shoes on and start dancing. For some reason it always makes me feel defensive, like what’s it to you. Then guilty because I haven’t really started anything. Then ridiculous for hedging and waffling and acting like I can’t remove my thumb from my ass. What am I working on? Don’t I counsel all my writers to start a project right away? I forget how much air it takes to fill a balloon. Fans, flames, germs, seeds, a single image, a forgotten page. Something from nothing. Bring my roots rain. 

How do you start?

10 Responses

  1. By accident, backwards, backing into the start by accident while doing something else! Don’t you?

    Thank you for your blog. Promise I’m getting around to The Bridge Ladies soon! Can’t wait to compare them to my own Mother’s bridge club from 1970s Longmeadow, MA.

    Heidi Berinstein Kirkman, LMFT 323-394-2684

  2. I start by never stopping. Things come to mind, and anything can be a door that can open into a new written world. It’s just a matter of ass-in-chair and do the work.

    Things come to mind and I write them down, is the method for finding places from which to start. My “Ideas” folder contains 89 files, plus a subfolder called “Unfinished Books,” which itself contains 18 subfolders and four stand-alone files. No way I’m going to live long enough to write all these books, which is both a sorrow and a comfort.

    Sometimes an idea comes along and it needs to be written right away. That happened to me earlier this month, in the wake of writing two stories from notes that had been in the “Ideas” folder (in one case, a small collection of notes that had been there for thirty years and I thought might be a book, and in the other case, a fairly complete story that had been there for only a year or so and needed finishing up), this stories-writing functioning as a productive distraction from turning to one of the unfinished books, parts of which have already been published and the rest of which was not going to write itself. So I have turned to it, and it is coming along.

    Then there are rewrites, which is a whole nuther subject.

    I tell my wife I talk to much and she never disagrees.

    And that is how I start.

  3. This is a timely post. I’ve submitted my latest WIP to my agent before it heads off to the editor for the deadline. That means I’m rambling around in my head about the next thing to write while I wait on the editing of that one.

    It’s weird. I must have a title. Good, bad, or what have you, I need a title. I also need to settle on a name for the MC. I have to also know the setting. After I have those things, I’m able to start thinking about the story.

  4. Ideas come and I mull them over for awhile, soon formulating an outline of sorts. I’ll write down random, out of sequence paragraphs and passages, hopefully pertaining to the story, but I tend to ramble and go off tangent. After awhile I’ll settle on a opening, number the paragraphs I’ve written to follow and flesh out the spaces in between. When I’m done, I take a ride to Rewrite City and visit the Red Pen district.
    I live with the story for awhile and break into a happy smile when I’m walking in the early morning fog and a line pops in my head that sums up just what I want to say.

  5. I start a slew of projects that don’t go anywhere. Then an idea arrives from the air. This time, it appeared during a visit to the nursing home where my husband lives because he has Alzheimer’s. When I got there, he was walking down the hall holding hands with a cute little lady with a sweet smile. They walked past me, sat together in the living room, and canoodled as I watched. At first, I was stunned. But then I realized that my husband was smiling. He hadn’t done that in a very long time. The nurse came over and said, “We’ve been trying to stop this, but she thinks he’s her husband. We tell her he’s not and that he’s married to someone else, but she doesn’t believe us.” I kept watching the happy couple and thought how he hadn’t known who I am for at least a year. He has no idea that he has two children and an adorable two-year-old grandson. “It’s fine,” I told the nurse. And it is. He was a great husband and father. He deserves to experience joy before the god-awful end of this heinous disease arrives.

    An Alzheimer’s unit is sad beyond belief, but it includes a boatload of material for a writer. The cute little man in the bright blue shirt who thinks he’s the boss of the dinner table. “You can’t sit there,” he tells the woman across from him. “You’re not in my group. Don’t expect me to pay for your supper.”

    “Why the hell would I want you to pay for my supper?” the woman snaps. “I can pay for my own supper.”

    “Damn straight,” the blue-shirt guy says. Then he sniffs like Barney Fife and starts in on another diner about how his face is stupid..

    “Where are my shoes?” a woman at another table yells.

    “You’re wearing them,” and aide answers. “I just put them on you.”

    The woman holds up a shoeless foot. “I can’t eat with no shoes,” the woman whines.

    The aide stops passing out cranberry juice to look for the lost shoes.

    And on and on it goes–kind of a cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and an elementary school cafeteria…

  6. Failed poems and desperation

  7. Oh Bonnie, you take my breath away.

    I start to listen when the voice of an idea stops whispering and begins the babble. I get so execited I think of nothing else. And then, AND THEN I begin.
    Beginning is easy finishing is a bitch of a job.

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