• 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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I hopped off the plane at LAX With a dream and my cardigan

Dear DJ:

First, thanks for forking over the $2 bucks for my book and fuck that library for getting rid of it. That is really a slap in the fucking face. Your teacher shouldn’t have told you to give up and keep a diary. She just should have said, keep a diary. Because all you need, or need right now, is like five years of writing under your belt. You wouldn’t expect to be picked for a an orchestra with less than ten years of practice, you wouldn’t perform surgery with less than what 10 years of medical school, you wouldn’t get recruited by the MLB. Writers have to write a lot, and get rejected a lot, and take workshops as you are, if you can stand them. Get feedback, listen to what you don’t want to hear, and keep going. It’s really good to be lonely and frustrated if you’re a writer. Couldn’t be better. Fuck that library. I love libraries, but that hurts.

How long did you write for before you got your first nibble or publication anywhere?

8 Responses

  1. I tried to reply to that comment by DJ – but WP had other ideas. As I read about all that happened, my first thought was – organize, organize, organize – then figure out how to make someone care about this personal story. (that’s about all I know about writing a memoir, “why should I care?”) I’ve got one queued up to read soon called HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD. 12 kids total, 10 boys – 6 with schizophrenia. It hit all sorts of lists. I’d recommend reading memoirs too.

    “How long did you write for before you got your first nibble or publication anywhere?”

    Off and on (mostly off) for about 12 years. Then a concerted, and diligent effort for 3.

  2. My first nibble was a big bite Op-Ed over thirty years ago in one of my states largest newspapers. Why is it ….. hundreds of published pieces later I still don’t feel like a successful writer.

  3. Does it count that, after almost 10 years, I got an offer for my manuscript, but within six months the company was sold and the new owners “forgot” to tell me my book wasn’t included in their Fall releases? I will be eternally grateful to my IP attorney who was able to get me away from that contract and retain my rights.

    And to DJ: I believe in the saying “doors close and windows open”. The delay in getting my book published allowed me to revise and add a new bit of info that improved the whole story line. Another publisher has recently shown interest. Glad you are part of this group, too.

  4. Not too long because I was the editor of my high school newspaper and then my college paper and then a couple of low rent literary magazines, so I just published my stuff. It wasn’t a bad gig. Then I started submitting to other magazines, editors and agents. In 40 plus years, I’ve had articles in a few magazines and received enough rejection slips to replenish a toilet paper mill.. Still writing, still trying. Maybe tomorrow …

    DJ –I’m looking forward to what you have to say and how you say it.
    Peace and perseverance.

  5. I had to go back and find the DJ comment. DJ, keep at it, it sounds like you have fascinating stories to tell. I started my novel (now out in Canada, out soon in the US) in 2011, but let’s face it I faffed around. Got more serious in 2017, agent & offer 2019, book out 2021. Write, edit, repeat.

  6. “How long did you write for before you got your first nibble or publication anywhere?”

    I will tell you, in excruciating detail.

    I was 15 when first published. I was a high school sophomore, first year journalism student, and the published piece appeared in the high school paper, wherein I was to be repeatedly published over the next several years.

    My first poems were published right around the time I turned 18, a half-dozen appearing in three small mags as I was graduating from high school.

    After that? An almost unbroken wilderness wandered in for twenty years. Two or three poems published during that time. Couldn’t get any fiction published to save mine own or any other’s life. Good that none were at stake.

    Then came the November day when I was 34 and received in the mail the notice that one certain GL fellow was going to publish a piece of mine in his vaunted litmag. To reach this point had cost me as close to everything as I had to give. My wife, family, home, and business were all gone. I was working a low-paying job, living in a converted garage, my next-door neighbor a car. I held and read the acceptance letter and sat down hard on that garage’s converted floor and sobbed my heart out.

    The sequel? Cosmic joke time. Three of my pieces were accepted by that magazine, which went out of business before they could appear. Oh well. A least I had developed a certain level of skill.

    I was 37 before my first work of fiction, a short piece of the type now known as flash, appeared in print. Even then, it was to be another five years before my short fictions began somewhat regularly to be published. I was almost 54 before my first book was published, and 57 when the second came out.

    And now what? What’s my point? Don’t give up? That’s probably it. I bet my life on this, this paper chase, this crafting of tidbits worth at least a passing read.

    I don’t know what else to do. Yes, it breaks my heart. It has broken my heart. It will continue to break my heart. It leaves me facing the specter of a wasted life, of the ultimate pointlessness of human endeavor. As if the past year hadn’t hammered that lesson home.

    Writers write. We write so that others may read what we write, if they so choose. That is our blessing and our curse, the stone we roll uphill every day. That is the meaning we give to life.

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