• 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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With Two Cats In the Yard



Do like to go away to write, find a cabin or studio apartment or barge or yert. Do you need total silence to concentrate, hunker down. Do you need to put distance between you and your loved ones, your work, your chores, your buttons. Have you been to Yaddo or MacDowell or other writer retreats? I’ve heard they provide box lunches. I’m sure I wouldn’t like the lunch. I’m sure I would want to break the no talking ban. I’m sure I would start smoking, possibly burn down my cabin. Fortunately, I like writing at home in my own little corner in my own little chair.

Where do you write?


13 Responses

  1. Some of my best has come when I was in a canvas director’s chair, with the laptop on a TV tray, in a garage with the door open. I’m working on a new spot in a quiet corner with an old desk. But I’ve written in motel rooms and on boats, too.

  2. Where don’t I?

  3. In my Green Cabin in the Woods –alongside a highway
    where I watch the world go by
    where I danced at sixteen
    and still dance at 51.
    And then I turn off the music
    and race to capture
    the afterburn
    in words.

  4. I don’t need to go anywhere to write – but I do need quiet. I have a lot of little niches I could go to here in this big old house, but my favorite is this spot I’m in right now. There’s a lower section to the counter, like a pass through, and I’m perched on a bar stool of just the right height, and I can face the double french doors and watch the birds fight over their spot at the bird feeder. It’s convenient to the fridge, and to take Little Dog outside.

    Although I’ve been functioning on less sleep and am bone tired, (my mother just moved about five mins away from me – I feel as if I’m the one who moved with regard to the work) I still find myself awake at 5:00 ready to write, so, I get up to plant my crop of words for the day. (current WIP taking place on an eastern NC cotton farm – can you tell?)

    I’ve always wanted to do a writer’s retreat though. Especially Yaddo. One day, maybe.

  5. “Where do you write?”

    Almost all my writing I do right here at my computer, in the second bedroom of the apartment in Chicago where Susan and I live. It has no bed, so it’s not really a bedroom. Usually we call it “the study,” though sometimes we call it “the office,” since the firm I work for went virtual (i.e., practically collapsed) and I work from home now, and sometimes Susan calls it “your room.”

    That’s key. A room of my own. A place whereat to write. (Is whereat the right word? What about wherein?) Sometimes, like right now, 6 in the morning, it’s quiet enough. Other times, such as in the evening, I can hear the upstairs neighbors a lot. Various adults, various small children, the talking, the playing, the crying, the footfalls and the creaking floorboards. I turn on the white noise on my computer then, the sound of a whirring fan, to muffle the distracting sounds. Sometimes I write with the door opened, and sometimes with it closed. It is behind me, and the desk faces the window. The view’s not great, but it’s a view, which I find important. When I write, sometimes I need to look out the window. (The view out the window made it into the last novel I wrote, as a recurring motif, or trope, or whatsit; it’s there, I’m here, and it ended up in the book.)

    Sometimes I write in other places, but not often. I sketched the outline of a poem one day last year on the train, to incorporate the messages of the train’s PA into something I still haven’t finished. Six years ago, I took a printout of the partially-completed MS of Franny & Toby, along with my notes, on a trip Susan and I made to Colorado, and I sat along the banks of a river in the mountains and worked out how the book was to end while Susan sat beside me with her sketchbook and made real sketches, and we swatted at mosquitoes. When my dad was dying a couple months ago, I sat out front of his and my mom’s house and wrote a poem. I don’t know if it’s any good, but that wasn’t the point.

    I’ve never been to any writers’ retreat. Never gone anyplace specifically to write, other than the room of my own in the place where I’ve lived, or a short-lived, “I’ll be right back, I’ve got to go write something down.”

  6. In my own little house or in the car on the ferry to Vermont.

  7. Two places are best: a 250 year old attic with wide planks & cobwebs and the smell of cedar. Or lately, in bed by my fire escape with a busy city street below.
    I doubt I could write well at a retreat or anywhere I was supposed to. Too much pressure.

  8. Home and hearth, sometimes at work and often jotting down notes while out in the woods or along the old railroad bed (minus the tracks) that meanders along the shore of the lake. Putting it all together, editing and embellishing, that’s at home work in the comfort of a cluttered office.

  9. I write upstairs, at a converted kitchen table. Dormers overlooking the yard. I’ve written one good scene at a bar on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by NASCAR while my wife was at a presentation at a nearby museum, but other than that, upstairs.

    And the music completely matters. While I’m writing, I listen to what these characters would listen to. For one book, I listened to four months of Ukrainian religious choral music. For another, almost nothing but Azure Ray. Maybe that’s why the nonfiction isn’t as much fun any more… it doesn’t have a soundtrack.

    • herb, I do the same thing with the music, listen to recordings of what the characters would have been listening to. It helps set the mood and helps me create the world they inhabit.

  10. I write wherever I am. It is possible, though not always, to block out the world and slip into a space of pure absorption. And that’s a beautiful thing. But oftentimes, most times, in fact, especially if I’m finicky or restless or resistent, it takes some mastery to settle down and just write, wherever. And I love that, because that’s when writing is a salvation from the world.

    • Wonderful question! I keep wanting to go to a retreat, but I don’t want to leave my elderly cat. My best place to write is in my home office, where I can write for hours at a time if the phone doesn’t interrupt (just the ringing…). The good part, too, is that in the middle of the night, I often get out of bed to go there, where I can sit in near dark to jot down an idea.

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