• 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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Everybody Sees You’re Blown Apart


How do you write about pain? Hurt, loss, betrayal? How do you write about those experiences that gut you without going all cliche on your ass? How to retain control  of tone when everything is out of control? How do you bring to life a slight, a thousand tiny cuts, a snub? You must write, you must breathe. You get out of bed and wonder that you are out of bed, dragging a toothbrush across your teeth. Do you want to write a screed, a rant, an angry letter addressed to god?

How do you write about pain?

14 Responses

  1. However and howwhenver I can. Somewhens and hows are not happened yet.

  2. Personally, I haven’t worked that out, though I’m trying with a few projects.

    This post suddenly put me in mind of the novel Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. Your very point comes up in that story.

  3. “How do you write about pain?”

    Carefully. Surgery with words.

    Truthfully. Tell what happened.

    Objectively. Don’t tell what it “feels like.”

    Fuck all. Like I’m one to ask. I don’t know how to do it. I do it all the time anyway.

  4. Damn, I clicked my way here hoping you had the answers. LOL

  5. With detached honesty.

  6. With tears on the page as I write.

    I also try to leave a tiny wisp of Hope swirling around my characters, more for me than them.

  7. With painful honesty. With blood freezing reality. With the ugly. With throbbing truth. With brave exposure. With no shame. With depravity. And clarity. Or confusion. With vindication.

  8. I prefer it to be fiction.

  9. I dunno, I find pain one of the easier things to write about, and if it comes out a little wild on the page you can always dial it back later. Plus there are so many sources and affiliated complexities, a veritable cornucopia of misery. Joy, on the other hand, always feels flat and uninteresting on the page, and I’ve discovered fewer sources. Love, hope, pride, blah blah blah. I’d rather wallow than feel so goddamn chipper.

  10. I don’t write about pain, my guts does.

  11. I was raised by people who thought your pain should be hidden away otherwise you look weak and therefore vulnerable. Maybe it was pride. So I end up writing hackneyed metaphors and then feel foolish for even trying. Or violent revenge plots that also end up seeming hackneyed and lame. Just writing about what it looks like when someone seems to be in pain doesn’t do it for me. There was great gnashing of teeth and shrill screaming as the dork ripped his own heart out for the loss of his love to that rich guy with all the muscles. That bitch (See, can’t take it seriously for even a minute.) Thanks, Betsy.

  12. It comes out stark. A lot of absence. Then words.

  13. It’s about grace. I have to remember to find my Graceland.

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