• 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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But Now It’s Just Another Show.

I spoke to a very young agent today who reached out for advice about agenting. It was an all too obvious reminder that I am old, that whatever was going to happen has mostly happened, that I no longer have to worry about certain things, that I know how to do my job and give advice more often I seek it. My hair is graying, my back likes to complain, and when I have a pencil in my hand I know exactly what to do with it. I guess that’s something.

What advice would you give a young writer?

12 Responses

  1. I am not going to tell them, “Keep writing. Do it every day.”

    That advice is passe, don’t you think?

    What I would tell them is to buck up under criticism. Grow a thick skin. Be prepared to be jealous when someone gets what you think you deserve. Don’t set goals unless you mean to keep them. Don’t think you can break the rules – unless you’ve been mentored by Margaret Atwood, or someone of that caliber. Don’t be an asshat.

    I could go on. That’s a good start, though.

  2. I would say, Don’t quit your day job and don’t be afraid to have a multi-faceted life. The singular, writing-life-fantasy is just that – a fantasy. Paris in the 20’s doesn’t exist anymore. Besides, you’ll have some money to fund the fantasy props, like travel or an urban garret. You’ll also have more to write about.

  3. Keep writing in a way that works for you. I once read advice from Elizabeth McCracken to not have lazy writer friends when you’re young. Have writing friends who work hard and aren’t dicks (my words, not hers).

  4. Betsy, there is a comfort in having traveled paths, which at one time challenging, are now leveled by our many steps forward. Sometimes the struggles are little more than an afterthought. (Sometimes, not always).

    I would tell the young writer to listen, learn, and apply their knowledge to that which feeds their love of this mysterious art/craft/obsession. Because, when you look back, (and you will), the question will be, did I do enough, give enough, share enough? What did I grasp? What did I miss? What did I give up to strive?

    Two pieces of advice:
    First piece of advice – Nike
    Second piece of advice – don’t take advice from anybody.

  5. “What advice would you give a young writer?”

    Don’t waste your time.

    • From one silver hair to another, do you think a young ‘un would listen?

      • Listen, yes; hear, yes; but understand, in the way we understand, or may understand, no. Not that our understanding is superior — it is different — less frantic and more resolved, I would think.

        “Advice? Don’t waste your time, my child. Make of that what you will.”

  6. It’s easier to sing the blues than to write about them.

  7. Run while you have the chance.

  8. Move to Scotland.

  9. “We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing.”

    Sorry. I’m on an Austen binge.

  10. Oh, how I loved this post. There is so much to be said about aging gracefully and happily and on one’s own terms. Any advice to a new writer
    Well, returning writer) who is old?

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