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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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Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid


It’s really hard to think about writing, publishing, virtually anything while our world hangs in the balance. I’ve never been political in any of my blog posts and I doubt I have anything new to add to the conversation, but it really is hard to feel that anything matters. How do you write a book about butterflies, or calories, or Mark Twain’s beloved butler? How do you quiet all the voices, put your blinders on, and not think about Donald popping Tic Tacs and groping women. Let alone blowing up the world.

How do you do your work?

16 Responses

  1. I do my work when something moves me and makes me so irrationally emotional that I pull out my biggest ‘guns’, my ‘pen’ and ‘paper’, and just write, text, or post to people. My best work is that way, don’t ask me to write otherwise.

  2. Writing teachers don’t discuss this problem, as far as I know. A yoga-and-karate teacher under whom I studied taught us to quiet the mind through meditation and a concerted effort to focus, but it’s an ongoing project for me. Perspective matters too. If you ask me, the fate of the world is always hanging in the balance, in many ways, large and small. Most of them I can’t do anything about, so I attend to them for a while for the sake of staying informed and then turn to something I can do.

  3. “How do you do your work?”

    It has been difficult to stay away from the political freakshow. On the other hand, as a citizen and a voter, I have felt the customary responsibility to remain informed. The trick has been maintaining some sort of balance.

    I’m working on a book about suburban life in the late 60s and early 70s, and while I can see that it is not irrelevant to the current political situation, I won’t try to argue the relevance. Topicality is not why I’m writing it. Slender threads are not what I seek to spin.

    This is probably our country’s most troubling political passage since the 1850s. That said, what’s going on now is a monumental hissy-fit compared to what went on then. Bloody Kansas, anyone? Harper’s Ferry?

    We might well have our contemporary Harper’s Ferry moment sometime in the coming months. I’d be surprised if we didn’t. I’d also be surprised if it went too much further than that. There may be gun battles and unpredictable numbers of people killed, wounded, or arrested — almost certainly not more than a few thousand all told — or maybe none of that will happen and in my predictions of possible mayhem, I will later look a fool, which is perfectly all right by me.

    One thing I do feel fairly certain about is that Donald Trump is not going to be president. I won’t hazard any guesses as to how that might play out beyond straightforward electoral defeat.

    Benedict Arnolds and Aaron Burrs, Preston Brookses and Huey Longs, Douglas MacArthurs and Joe McCarthys and Richard Nixons and Donald Trumps, they all come and go, but the republic endures.

    Write on, my pretties. May you live in interesting times.

    • Well said, Tetman. I agree with you on the bloodletting — there are some angry, stupid people out there and they have guns. I hope you’re right about the election. Again, there’s an abundance of anger and ignorance, as well as the potential for a rigged election, courtesy of Putin, in favor of Trump. Hillary’s not perfect, but she is dedicated, smart and well suited for the presidency. Time will tell. Write on!

  4. I pop some tic tacs and grope my keyboard, stroking it long enough in the hopes that my fondling produces something decent on the screen.

    In the past I have never let politics get in the way of friendships…but now I’m really taking stock of anyone I know who is voting for Trump. Please tell me that secretly they will cast a sane vote behind the curtain on November 8…

  5. I don’t know. I’m spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time writing…

  6. The only time I have felt this kind of unrest was during the Cuban missile crisis. Duck and cover boys and girls.
    I finally found the courage to FB my opinion. I am a fence sitter so to step forward was hard but felt good.
    Sorry, wrong generation, wrong race.

  7. I voted early this time. It helped to silence some of the crazy noise.

    Writing fiction is my escape from the real world and this world, now, demands my checking out for a time.

  8. I must be able to compartmentalize. I listen, think, listen. Come to the computer, work. It’s useless anger, really. Why get all worked up when there’s nothing anyone can say or do to change minds? At least that’s my philosophy.

    There was a pie chart out on FB that made that point funny. The categories were “you change your mind (green), they change their mind, (blue), no one changes their mind and everyone’s pissed, (red). The entire chart was red. SO TRUE.

    I found a link to it since I could find it on FB anymore.


  9. I cry and complain, and then log out of facebook. Fuck this campaign and structural oppression and climate change. They’re not going to take my writing away from me.

  10. Not as well as I’d like to. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to focusing and that’s something I need to change because when I do sit down and write write write, a few good lines will come out of a page or two, nourishing my soul and wondering, where did that come from? but I like it and I keep going and that, I guess, is how I operate. Works for me. Sort of.

  11. I finally blogged and posted on Facebook last week about this election. Not an easy decision, since I have a book coming out next summer, don’t want to alienate potential readers, yet am astounded how many people i know with a differing view. But I finally decided I had an obligation to speak my mind. This is way bigger than me and my life.

  12. I recently unsubscribed my online newspapers (kinds of The New York Times, The New Yorker…) and skipped TV channels like CNN, keeping myself informed via a few media sources I trust as neutral such as BBC,The Financial Times (which have good writing styles I learn too), though I know it would be naive to say journalism is 100% neutral nowadays. I read more fictional stuff. So I feel some peaceful to focus on my writing now. Politics is a game as any kind of game, which has both risks and rewards, with whoever venturing into a leader role. I respect people who have the guts to take charge of this extremely challenging job. And I believe each voter has his/her own stand and vision to judge and hope. I agree with jeb54 that “the fate of the world is always hanging in the balance, in many ways, large and small.”

  13. Write an OpEd about the Tic Tac man (he really did have a drawer full of Tic Tacs!) who used to harass you at work and publish it in the local newspaper. That’s how!

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