• 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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I Can Take All the Madness the World Has to Give

I had lunch with a young editor a little while ago and she brought me the first book she had edited. (Editors almost always bring along a book that they edited at these lunches.) But this was her first and I could see how proud and excited she was. The jacket was gorgeous and she told me all about how she acquired it and the work she did on it with the author and how marvelous the author was to work with. I felt myself time traveling back to my early days as an editor. When bringing a book into the world felt miraculous. When anything could happen and as luck would have some of my first acquisitions took off. A front page NYT review, a million dollar movie deal, a National Book Award nomination, a best seller! It’s not that I don’t get excited now. I do. I do. I swear I do. But I’m old  now and the battlefield is littered with bodies. I’ve been doing this for 32 years.  The young editor had brown hair that shined like a mahogany table and at least half of it fell from her ponytail.

How long have you been at it?


21 Responses

  1. I’ve been at it 25 minutes. Now I’m taking a 5 minute break. Then I’ll go at it all fresh and young again, another 25 minutes. All fast twitch muscle fibres, me. Lucky sprints all add up, or I’d only write very short stories.

    Then again, my damn ‘lectric buzzfucking brain wasn’t drugged enough last night, I was at it eight hours. And if we’re truthful, we’re all of us at it every day, every hour, every mishmashing minute of our lives. Aren’t we?

    • harry! Good to see you. Hey, everybody, it’s harryipants, who championed and edited my second book, “Franny & Toby.”

      I’m still at it, harry. Still doing what all I do and plugging F&T at any opportunity. Hope you and Juliette are doing well.

    • Mr. ipants, by God, it’s you! Alive, kicking arse, and writing like a fiend – even in this post. Fresh, original, and commenting in only the way you can do. Good to “see” you here. I like that – 25 minutes, then a 5 minute break. Eight hours straight? Meh, not so much that.

      • Donna, I AM a fiend, you know that! You flatter me, but I ain’t complaining. I’ll take anything I can get, and twist it into the greatest damn quote anyone ever read.

        “Mr iPants…God…arse…fiend…” — DonnaEve, a real writer

        Hmmm, if I could just get “arse” and “fiend” closer together…

        Tetman, you flatter me too. I only contributed a few suggestions to the editing of your wonderful book, all the good stuff was Juliette’s. We don’t call her Juli-edit for nothing. We are both so proud of that book. It’s the best either of us ever had anything to do with. And you the best writer.

  2. “How long have you been at it?”

    A fucking lifetime. Started over fifty years ago, when I was yet a wee lad. Passed the point of no return some while back. Sunken costs are not a fallacy if they’re the price of your destiny. Then they’re simply the costs of doing business. An investment with inscrutable returns.

    The calling changes over time. Slowly, like a day passing. Goes from bright hope skipping through the fields to dark tramping on the treadmill in the workhouse.

    Careful what you ask for, kids. You might get it.

  3. In one of his college tours Billy Joel once announced to young musicians that if they had a back-up plan, they weren’t musicians. My son took him seriously, took music seriously, never had a back-up anything, and is now the predictable starving musician, albeit passionate, albeit talented. I never had a plan, back-up or whatever, never took myself seriously enough, wrote sporadically, and now look back with longing at the lost girl who wrote with abandon, but only on occasion.

  4. I bet it was fascinating to listen and watch her. “But I am old now and the battlefield is littered with bodies.”

    I love that.

    How long have you been at it?

    Not nearly long enough, but if I count the time when I was just doodling around with my first manuscript, I’d say twenty-five years. Not quite disillusioned just yet – although on some days, I definitely feel it creeping in.

  5. First published piece 1988. 31 years, hundreds of op-eds, articles and columns later, I am, thank God, still a neophyte.

    harripants ? is this a post from three years ago?
    harripants ? Have we gone back in time?
    harripants ? Today wisdom has risen from the dust of effort and dreams.
    harripants ? WOW !

    • And to think I spelled harryipants wrong, Told you I was a neophyte.

    • Haha, Carolynn. I couldn’t post for awhile, they never went through. WordPress hated me. But I have always read every post here, every comment. I guess I’ve been like a ghost, watching our tribe from somewhere between the spaces. It feels good to seem alive again

  6. As long as Donald Trump has been an asshole.

  7. For as long as Donald Trump has been an asshole.

  8. Dabbling since high school, getting paid for 15 years

  9. 15 years of steady writing and one book of shorts to show for it.

    i don’t know but it’s kind of exhausting. the literary hustle isn’t real to me, just a ragged foot race for finite resources and a fuck-load of bad behaviours.

    a few of my characters (from a few of my MS’s) are fully formed and talking, so that’s good?

    i’m 54 and feeling it.


    PS my hair is silver/grey but once was brunette.

  10. I’ve been at it since I was eight years old, in the third grade. It’s been 50 years, and I’m still working at getting it right.

  11. I found you! I am 73 and feel like I just came out of a fog after reading this blog and comments. Yep, Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin, but get tired of apologizing for slipping out the word fuck. I write, but can’t claim more than that. One day I will.

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