• 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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And No One Heard Not Even the Chair

Someone in my graduate school zoom group recently remarked that we will all publish into obscurity but we do it anyway. Why? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I certainly know that my deepest satisfaction comes from working on books that are in print 20 years later and are still beloved. Or  when someone meets me and it’s revealed that I edited a certain book, and the person is suddenly impressed as if I’ve transformed from a mildly interesting girl in glasses to a goddess. I’ve always felt the real reason to write was to score chicks. Everything else is gravy. Money, fame, adoration, it’s all ephemeral. Most writers feel like shit about themselves and complain about how hard their work is even if they’re rich and famous.  Huge ego, low self-esteem is the writer’s cocktail. But the real reason we write is as individual as who we are, and it changes over time. But I suspect one of the more universal reasons we write is because we are unhappy. We need to remake the world, tell our version, dig our grave.

Why do you do it?

18 Responses

  1. You have the best questions, and offer each with aptitude & attitude.

  2. It’s the eternal question. I write because I have things I want to say (but so far I haven’t quite worked out what they are). And because I know I’m good at it (but so far, not good enough).

  3. I write because I can. I write because my math SATs were shit. I write because when I don’t, I feel like the wind is blowing through me. I write because I never haven’t. I write because it wooed my wife. I write because it brought me closer to my mom. I write because it’s helped me heal from many a fight, many a death, many a sadness. I write because it’s a filter for this world, leeching out all the harmful chemicals before they cause a cancer in my brain. I write because it wakes me up in the middle of the night, when even the dog is curled into a tight ball, snoring on the other side of the room, despite the tapping of my keys and the glow of the screen, blue against my face.

  4. This is always a hard question! I’m not sure I actually know the deep down inside reason. One day I made a declaration I was going to write a book because I became quite enamored with the books of Kaye Gibbons. Just like when you say you’re going to run a marathon, it’s like everyone holds your feet to the fire.

    Did you write that book yet? (did you run that marathon yet?)
    Are you writing? (are you running?)
    How’s that book coming along? (how’s that training coming along?)

    That was how I found out I really liked this writing thing. So I guess the answer to the question, why do you do it? I truly enjoy it – hair pulling and all.

  5. Because I would hate myself even more if I didn’t

  6. I do it because I can.
    Short-form non-fiction essays, articles, op-eds, and columns has left me feeling as if I am casting something of value into the air. My thoughts, my heart, that which troubles or calms my mind, are scraps. I may never realize where they land but it’s nice to know they are somewhere.
    I am full bullshit and as we all know bullshit needs a place to flow.

  7. “Why do you do it?”

    I started because I was very alone. Because I loved the magic of a story. Because I wanted people to be happy. Because I wanted to be loved.

    None of that ever changed.

  8. Love this!

  9. To prove my mother wrong. My senior year at Mt. Holyoke, she said, “You’re a good writer, but not good enough.”


  10. I write because it’s my best trick. I think we all want to do our best trick, even if there’s one person in the audience.

  11. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Goldstein, liked a story I wrote. I mean, really liked it. That’s all it took.

  12. Betsy, you’re killing me. Your words are a tiny bit magic, poison, treachery, love, madness. That’s why I read. As for writing, I really don’t know. Sometimes I wish I never started.

  13. I love words. They strain, they strive, and once in a while they segue into something worthwhile. And out of thin air, out of the intangible nowhere, something appears on a blank page and maybe, rarely, but maybe, it sings.

  14. writing in a journal saved my life. I never set out to be a writer. I never really thought I’d be anything.
    When my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up–one of the few times he ever asked me anything about myself–besides “why are you so goddamn sensitive?”–I said, “a secretary.”
    He said, “they don’t make any money.”
    Yeah, well, maybe money’s overrated. I never cared about making money. In this I have been wildly successful.
    When I was applying to college my dad handed my application essay back to me and said–thoroughly amused by what he was about to say–“Now that’s what I call literary diarrhea.”
    Is that why, after dabbling, I ultimately became an English major?
    Not consciously, though proving people they’re wrong about me is definitely a part of the engine that moves me. That I seem to share his way with words, that he was one of my first literary inspirations, that I’m writing to tell my truth–which doesn’t make him look so great–it’s all nothing short of ironic.
    But at the end of the day, I write to connect. I write to connect with myself, first, and then to connect with those who read me. Not everyone loves my freedom of speech, but the people with whom I end up connecting with because of what I’ve written give me way more than those who take issue with the truths I have to tell.

  15. Because I like the easy life. Also, the gravy.

    I can’t even score chicks within my own relationship.

    Oh, but that gravy…

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