• 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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Let Me Hear You Say This Shit Is Bananas



A lot of people ask me what I’m working on now, or if I’m writing. It’s an innocent question. Some people even say that they hope I’m working on something new. Most writers might take this as a compliment, and yet it calls up something in me that is not pretty. First, I suppress the desire to say, the fuck if I know. Or what the fuck do you care? Or are you fucking with me? Then I turn the tables: What the fuck are you working on? What is it any of your business? Why are you on planet earth? You don’t look good in plaid, and can you please fuck off and die.

What the fuck are you working on?

22 Responses

  1. Working on reclaiming my Self after decades of neglect.
    Done with looking for peace or fulfillment outside of myself–i.e., NO prisoners anymore.

  2. Pulling an all-nighter of writing specifications and finish schedules for a complicated renovation project. Once this particular Day Job task is sent out to the contractors, I should have a few days next week to focus on a query letter and an manuscript. PS: earlier today, I wore a plaid jacket to an important meeting and gotta say I looked pretty darn chic – or was it because I wore those Italian leather boots?

  3. Working on redeeming my writer-self, keeping my word, saving face, and finding voice.
    NIKE !

  4. Oh dear god. Where’s the laugh button, instead of the like?

    What the fuck am I working on is an appropriate question. As in what the fuck is this? That’s what I ask myself every single time I open The Dreaded Outline. I’m suffering from “The Knowledge Of Finishing An Awesome Manuscript Agent and Editor Are Wild About, Now How Do I Follow Up That Shit?” syndrome. Nothing works. While the premise of this new book is good, I can’t seem to get my act together to get it beyond that.

    I’ve never liked plaid on me. Or lace. I am definitely NOT a lace gal.

  5. “What the fuck are you working on?”

    Keeping my wits about me (the never-ending story). Not paying so damned much attention to the news — it’s always bad and never new, and should be called “the bads” and not “the news.” Staying warm in the cold Chicago night (the heat failed in the building last night — it’s okay, building management says they’re working on it, soon as they can find a subcontractor who will come out and work on it, and go ahead, use portable space heaters and please don’t burn the building down, you idiots, don’t you know how those things work?)

    The work. Okay. I finished writing and polishing a short story this week and it’s good, oh it’s so gooood, it’s the bestest, you wooden bleeve it, it rocks, it rolls, it breaks hearts and takes names, if I’m lucky I’ll get it published in some obscure journal twelve people may read before I die. If I’m unlucky, so what. Many are.

    Next up is a review/rewrite of a book-length manuscript which is also so-good-bestest because that’s the way I roll, and parts, small parts, of which have already been published in obscure journals the twelve people read and hey, I’m not even dead yet.

    So that’s that. Stay warm or stay cool, depending on where you are, keep your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel, lift that barge (?) and tote that bale, use one of those lower-back-brace thingies that has a name I forget if you need to do lifting, eat your veggies, walk your dog, and watch out for The Plaid. No one outside the Highlands looks good in it (I know this for a true fact — my pajamas are plaid and I am in them and while it is better than being naked in this cold Chicago morn, I’m not looking to be seen in them. Where’s that fucking subcontractor, damn it, I paid my rent and I want some heat).

  6. An experimental mood piece.

  7. My fucking editorial work and not my fucking manuscript. It turns out I can’t live on angst alone.

  8. Im working on an all-flannel writer’s jumpsuit. Think of it as professional wear. We put it on, go to seasonal parties, and drink alone in the corner.

    Maybe well have footies versions, too. Insecurities hate footie pajamas.

  9. A story about the us postal service, a broken down clerk and the devil in a blue dress. I’m also sorting and distributing 500 letters and rearranging 60 packages so I can move around in a office that is the size of a bathtub.(Somebody is getting a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker in a huge box. An iced tea maker??? Here’s how you make iced tea: boil water, pour it in a pitcher, throw in some tea bags and let it seep for 5 minutes. Then let it cool. Throw in some lemon slices and ice cubes and there you go. Seems like there’s a machine for everything now).

  10. I’m working on not being jealous of the work everyone else is working on. Which I think was the point of your post? The fuck?

  11. Six small men in a big jungle in a big war. No names or dialogue yet, no faces.

  12. The Fuck I’m Working On is more accurately described as a work formerly-in-progress–I’ve only written two very drafty chapters of it since I finished my MFA program a year and a half ago. Nonetheless, TFIWO is about how I fell in love with Jesus when I was 15; what drew me into evangelical christianity; what it was like when I was in it; and why, and how, I got out when I was 21 and, eventually, broke up with Jesus.
    Ever since I finished my MFA program I haven’t found the structure I need to work on it–i.e. something akin to a military academy for writers. Want to be my agent so you can tell everyone The Fuck You’re Working On is my manuscript? (I’m kidding. Though I do have your email address from when you read at said MFA program (Goucher) and generously offered to read our draft query letters. It’s been two years so I’d understand if the offer has expired.)
    If it’s any consolation, writers are constantly working, even if no ink’s being spilt. And, imho, you owe no one a thing when it comes to talking about the magic you’re making; where, when, or how you make your magic; and when they can ever expect to behold the magic you make. A wise one once said, Those who mind don’t matter; Those who matter don’t mind. Take heart. You’re doing enough and you are more than enough. xo.

  13. I’m working on a seemingly endless string of stories about four generations of fathers and sons who love each other yet can’t bring themselves to say it.

  14. 1. a novel about a woman with the wrong face
    2. a novel that is a blow out of a short story; it’s about a guy named Blank

    i can’t fucking stand talking about my projects and rarely do. i have no idea what i’m writing, you know? and writers are cannibals, the fuckers. i’m also working on finding freedom in writing after publishing the first book and feeling a dreadful sense of “expectations”.

    is there a thing called second book syndrome?

  15. Thanks, Betsy. I haven’t heard Fuck Off and Die in a very long time. I’ve missed that phrase. I’m going to revive it in my vocabulary. Just hearing it after all this time has release a big knot of stress in my throat. I’m working on the same fucking shit I’ve been working on for too long now. What seems to sell big? Murder mysteries. If you’re going to write a murder mystery you might as well do it right and figure out why people murder each other so you can get in there and scare the fuck out of people. Hasn’t worked out that way. Now I’m just stuck. Stuck in some muck I don’t even want to get out of but never the less it feels like stuck. The one interesting thing that has come out of this is the idea that genetic survival plays a large role in violence. Die Motherfucker Die so I can have room for my gene pool with a high-dive for the kids. People: gotta love ’em, but if you don’t it’s totally understandable.

  16. BETSY! Merciful Heavens! Tell Them You’re Doing Christian Charity Work, (Watch Them Flee!) Or You’re Working On A Fifth Of Scotch. (Must Have Been the Plaid In Your Post.) I Waiting On A Response From Bill Clegg RE My Late Friend’s Book Of Poetry. That,s His Life In the Big City, I Reckon. (Suzanne Kingsbury Says Hello; Knows You Both, I Gather.) We Are Having a True VT Winter, & It’s Grand. Blast Some Music You Love, Take a Day Off & Indulge! Sean Andrew Heaney

  17. The reason I can’t stand when people ask me what I’m working on – or worse yet, how’s the book going? — (this asked with all due respect and sweetness and admiration and amazement and usually smacks with some jealousy) — is that I’ve been working on the same goddamn motherfucker for over ten years now, yes, indeed. So there is a component of revulsion in merely hearing the question, and a whole lot of fear, cause, you know, what the heck, maybe it’s never gonna get finished. But oh yes oh yes it is, cause it’s almost almost almost there.

    In the long run, the universe won’t budge if I don’t finish it. Not one little nano bit.

    A comment I abhor just as much, if not more, is along the lines of “I have a book for you to write.” You do? What makes you think I give a fuck. Write it yourself, creep.

    Nowadays, I keep to myself that I’m writing at all. It’s my little secret charm: if I don’t tell, it may actually get done.

  18. I am working on an online help system for 3 different financial products, 2 data dictionaries for bulk financial data extracts, admin’ing a SharePoint site, and doing development on 2 applications to automate documentation. In other words, my day job is interferring with my blog writing and my fun this month. So when I am off on the weekends, what do I do? I have to choose between writing in my blog about outdoor adventures or going on said adventures. Guess which one I choose? I haven’t had a blog post in a couple of weeks. 🙂

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