• 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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You Are My Love and My Life You are My Inspiration

 I don’t believe in inspiration. I believe in compulsion. Anything I’ve ever written, including when I wrote poetry, came from self-loathing. I never saw any light, angels, symmetry, never heard a muse, never lit a candle, saw Jesus in the tapestry or golden scroll unfurl with a string of notes only God could hear. I wrote out of pain, loneliness, confusion and desperation. I needed to keep diaries. I never said, “I really should write every day.” I wrote every day and it was a cross between a school girl’s cry and a banshee’s screech. I was compelled to write as surely as a leech needs to suck blood from a dying man. I was compelled to write because I was depressed and it was how, bucket by bucket, I pulled myself out, if only for the time I was actually writing. No halo effect. No resonance. No satisfaction. No after glow. In this way writing, for me, is like a contact sport, a staring contest, a long and exquisitely held grudge, a splinter. That’s what writing is like for me.

And for you, Boo boo?

12 Responses

  1. I started writing fiction purely for something to do after finding myself suddenly faced with empty hours to fill. Sat down and out fell a bunch of words. So I guess I don’t believe in inspiration either.

  2. I am sometimes inspired to return to writing by — wait — reading posts of yours like this one. I don’t do it because I don’t think I can reach the piercing intensity you achieve in these (throwaway?) invitations to comment, no matter how hard I would try.

  3. When I write, I’m in a zone. Nothing matters, just words. Words, glorious words. The aesthetic propels me, le mot juste. For me, that absorption is the greatest therapy in the world. But I have always wondered if desperation engenders inspiration. Must an artist suffer to create? I don’t know. Sometimes it works. Is that the price a writer must pay? Perhaps.

  4. Clarity, confusion, self-loathing, and giddiness; maybe this is heroin chic?

  5. I write because if I don’t I start to lose the edges of myself.

  6. Writing is something that I need to do. If I’m not doing it, then after a few days I start to get depressed. Or, I should say, even more depressed.

    I started writing when I was eleven. I thought it was a special thing to do and I wanted to be special. By age twelve, I was writing because I needed someone to talk to.

    I write to save my life. That’s all.

  7. I’m glad you write.

    For me it’s thoughts, ideas and stories that sound way better in my head than what comes out on paper. And then the process begins, crafting the story, making it work and putting in more effort and energy than I knew I possessed. That’s why I write. It’s almost as good as coming.

  8. Thank you for posing this question. I have been thinking about it since yesterday. Prior to reading your post, I would have joined the ranks claiming inspiration from the external environment (filtered sunlight, an overheard remark, a view from behind my steering wheel, etc.). Upon further reflection, though, I now understand that various degrees of dissatisfaction and frustration have been the root motivator to my writing; all those other factors merely the avatars to express/exorcise those emotions. Quite a revelation and one I will nurture most carefully.

  9. Dear Betsy,

    I love your writing, always have, thank you for these posts. Both of my daughters are pregnant! I am traveling till mid-Nov. Love to see you, it’s been too long. No agenda except — Big Wednesday, maybe. Lunch? Coffee? Cocktails?

    YT B

  10. As a counter-compulsive, I need the lightbulb over my head now and then, and a trace-at least a trace- of joy.

  11. Writing is the sister I never had and the baby lost two days before Christmas 36 years ago. It is the gone-relatives, friends and strangers who cut the line or let me in. It’s who I am and who I wished away.
    It IS my DNA

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