• 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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Some Say Love it is a Flower


Over the years, I’ve usually said that a manuscript isn’t right for me when turning it down. It’s subjective, after all. All of us have turned down books that went on to success.  Today, in a fit of honesty, I told a writer I didn’t think her work was ready. Maybe that’s as vague as not right for me, but I felt it was more helpful in some way. It needs more work. Most people want a full green light. Orange not so good. Most things need more work. The challenge is finding a writing program, workshop, teacher, editor who can really give you a full assessment, but it’s worth seeking out this kind of support when you’ve taken it as far as you can. Most of the authors I’ve taken on have put their work through tremendous scrutiny and many drafts. Have published in magazines and journals and on-line magazines. They enter the fray having built up a considerable portfolio.

When do you submit your work?

14 Responses

  1. It’s the idea of wanting to help that comes through in this post. That may have been the best thing to say to this writer at this time. Whether or not she does anything about it doesn’t matter. You said what you thought was most helpful to her, and that’s the best you can do.

    I submit only after I’ve bled on the pages. Or cried. Or both. Mostly both.

  2. “When do you submit your work?”

    When I think it’s ready. I’m not always right.

  3. I remember the day my daughter was born. My wife’s labor was a long process, 16 hours. There was a hot tub in the room, which helped, but mostly the calming effects of an epidural administered with the longest needle I’ve ever seen eased her cramps and shakes. When it was time for our baby to come out, my wife pushed and strained and gripped my arm so tightly I can still see the swirls of her fingerprints. There was a lot of screaming and encouragement, but ultimately it was my wife doing all the work to give birth to our baby. Then our daughter’s head appeared (crowned) and I thought, oh, that’s not so bad; looks kind of like a little wet rat. But then, boom! the whole child appeared, all slime covered and freaked out by the light and temperature of the room, all that space after the security of the womb. The baby cried and the sound made us all happy. Just like that it was over and I cut the cord. I had no idea had much was just beginning.

    And so I know when I reach just a fraction of that process, it’s time to submit.

  4. I got a bunch of requests for fulls for my memoir and then all rejections. This told me I didn’t quite have it yet. For my poetry book I have never once in all my rejections been told why it was rejected. Many of the poems were published singly, but the book never worked as a whole. I don’t know why. But I have stopped submitting the poetry book.

    All of this is to say I really fucking wish more people would be honest about rejections when they feel they can be. It gives a writer something concrete to work on rather than not knowing whether the problem is finding the right agent or press or the manuscript itself. I really hate the guessing game.

  5. I submit whenever I feel like because most times it’s not about the writing at all, but about selling a product and making money.

  6. When it sings, I submit. When it makes me cry, makes me uneasy, makes me proud I submit. When my gut tells me it’s time, I submit. Almost every piece I send out gets ink somewhere.
    I have submitted but…obviously not ready, real enough or right.
    I know my place and long form may not be it. Breaks my heart actually.

  7. When More People Are Reading Good Poetry Than Writing It: When Readings Aren’t Poets Reading To Poets, When A Mentor/Editor Publishes A Poem After Praising It. Sean X. P.S. I Miss Jim Carroll.

  8. historically i’ve edited my work over and over again, to the best of my ability. hypnotic. this seems to have worked on individual pieces but i definitely benefitted from an edit of the whole, when the time was right.

    it feels like a long time before i’m able to say what the writing is about in one good sentence. and when i’m able to do that i’m definitely getting closer to asking another person to read it.

    there are times that i envy writers who hash over their next projects with their agents, are encouraged in unknown directions. the possibilities. but that’s not the norm for most writers.

    it’s all about trying. and failing. christ on a bike.


  9. As for my book, sometimes I admire it, other times I’m sick of it. Once it beckoned like an illicit lover; I couldn’t keep my hands off it. Now it sits on a shelf, patiently – or futilely –waiting for a snippet of attention. Once upon a time I sent out proposals. I don’t think anyone read them.

  10. I submitted a manuscript to a well-known contest. Three of the 4 judges loved the premise, the characters, the setting – even the title. The 4th judge claimed I had overlooked an apostrophe, the work needed more editing (even though I had hired a very qualified editor to review this submission), then gave my manuscript such a low score it wasn’t accepted as a finalist. It appears that the capricious nature of The Fates has the deciding vote in my destiny.

  11. Thank you for this honest insight.

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