• 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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With Lovers and Friends I Still Can Recall

Some people in publishing specialize in certain genres: science, history, sci-fi, fantasy. I’m what’s known as a generalist, which is a fancy way of saying dumbass. Or enthusiast. Or gourmand. Or freshman. Or what not. For quite a while I worked on memoirs and was known as the pain and suffering editor. If the straightjacket fits…I always tell my assistants when they are learning how to evaluate proposals and manuscripts: Prize winners and page turners. That’s what I’m looking for. Great writing will get me interested in everything from a love supreme to rats’ asses. Is it pretentious to say that all I care about is the writing. I’ll also break for an amazing person, or a crazy good idea, or pancakes. I have to admit I really feel that I am getting older, which is mostly a beautiful thing. But there’s also this sense of self preservation I’ve never had before.

What is this post about?

21 Responses

  1. Where seldom is heard an encouraging word, tonight it feels like home.

  2. Generalism?😳 Sorry; couldn’t help myself.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. First, I have to get past the little mouse’s paws – which look amazingly like human hands – especially the front ones.

    What is this post about? I see a tie in with that special writing you’re looking for (hello new writer who will hit every list and get a Pulitzer!) and something that is everlasting, even after we’re gone.

  4. It’s about the search for the Holy Grail, the language. The treasure hunt, with broken compass, map of questionable origin, and limited supplies. It is what writers do, and Betsy, though you do other things very well, you are a writer. Embrace the curse and sail on.

  5. Letting go, questioning; going for a long walk on a road that leads in a circle and finding an idea,a pen and a scrap of paper that wasn’t there the first time around.

  6. yes. this makes sense to me as a writer and reader. getting older too.

  7. “Words strain,
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
    Will not stay still.”

    Your post is about growth, change, awareness, self-acceptance, nothing stays the same, we grow old, in the end is the beginning, and do we dare?

    Generalist….um….I’ve never been great at any oneoneoneone thing.
    Just a smattering of this or that, here or there, comme ci comme ca,
    glimmers of gold, scatters of sparkle.

  8. This post is about your love of words, stories and pancakes. It’s a good post.

  9. I think it’s a post about the desire to represent whatever/whoever you want. No pigeon holes; no boxes; no explanations needed. So, go for it, Betsy, and maybe write whatever you want, too. Sometimes you just outgrow the rules and need to make your own, though it seems like you’ve been doing this all along.

  10. Introspection.

    Have another drink dearie. It won’t help but you might go to sleep.

  11. It means leave me the fuck alone because it’s too late on a Friday afternoon to be asking questions about something that is gut instinct and can’t be passed out like gum drops into waiting hands. It takes experience. Hence, the getting old shit.

  12. “What is this post about?”

    Upon second look, more than might meet the eye.

  13. Passion.

  14. Getting older and feeling good about it. Glad it’s not a life and death passion play. But still interested in life and its godliness (excuse my language.) A deep breath at the top of a peak? (Why do the hands on that mouse look so familiar?)

    • PS. Is it healthy that your wife uses a Betsy Lerner understanding in an argument when you turned her onto Betsy Lerner? Is that fair? (My wife says you have good insights.) Not that I’m complaining, I’m just wondering how far I can take this Betsy thing. Can I use I knew Betsy first in an argument?

  15. I think it’s about Eva Gabor. And hotcakes.

  16. “Though nothing can bring back the hour
    of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    we will grieve not, rather find
    strength in what remains behind.”

    Aren’t we each always searching for that hour of splendor and of glory in anyone’s writing?

  17. Perhaps you don’t miss the rep it gave you, representing those memoirs, but you miss the intensity some had, the urgency of those writers. You tired of the inevitable heroes and villains when we write our own stories, and even the catharsis became predictable. Perhaps you struggle with a quasi-Buddhist need to recognize and relieve suffering, but its universal nature perversely reduces the impact, so you prefer invention now, fiction, to be startled and exhilarated by high craft, piercing insight and utter invention. The human story requires fiction, as Robert Ardry described it, because we are predictable and insignificant. But still some part of you lingers…memoirs, when they work, get to the heart of it. The rough, raging triumphs, the effort and stillborn beauty, the failure and uplift of what actually unfolds, of a life well told. And how a fearless memoir writer lifts the lid on the literary cage, upends what we thought writing can do, and puts us in a bigger room.

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