• 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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Catch Your Dreams Before They Slip Away

My entire life has been defined by writing. Keeping diaries as a girl that morphed into journals in college and throughout my twenties. All the little poetry fragments that became grown up poems and got me into graduate school. There was the classic MFA breakdown, the internship at Simon and Schuster, the Ann Taylor suits and Ferragamo shoes my mother bought me for my first day as full editor at Houghton Mifflin. The writers, the writers, the writers. And then somehow harnessing my own will and creative spark to publish my own work. I never expected to kick things off with an advice book to writers, but that happened. I often act cynically and jaded. Like many seniors, I have less elasticity and patience. But I also have immense gratitude and can still connect with the girl who kept her secret diaries in a crawl space beneath the stairs, committing her secret thoughts to the page knowing on some level that feelings needed to be managed or handled.

What is your writing time line?

5 Responses

  1. I love that your mom bought you Anne Taylor suits and those fancy shoes.

    Writing timeline:

    1964 –>1996 –> Reader
    1996 –> made declaration to write a book
    1996 – 2008 –> Fiddled around with 85 pages of a manuscript
    2009 – company goes bankrupt. Go back to school for degree, and decide to get serious about writing
    2009 – 2012 –> finish degree work, and write like a fiend on the same manuscript started in ’96.
    March 2012 –> signed with agent
    March 2012 – March 2015 –> wrote two more books
    April 1, 2015 – email from agent – sold book (the ms started in 1996!)

  2. Writing was my secret as a kid, a release in college, an emotional affair in coffeeshops in my twenties, then a career I snuck around with during my editing career. And so it remains.

  3. My first yellow legal pad (Meade?), the elongated kind, no punch holes, a gift from my mother when I was probably 12 or 13. Black Bic pens. I wrote and wrote and wrote and every once in awhile I’ll find one of those old pads and look at my long winded musings, words crossed out or in parenthesis with a question mark, wondering whether to delete or not; all sorts of tiny notes jotted in the margins and double headed arrows to remind me to reverse the sequence of the sentences. I still write down ideas and scattershot passages, but the main difference I see between then and now is I write in the mornings now instead of late at night when I should have been sleeping. That and a loss of innocence. Well, mostly.

  4. I was around 14, dreamily looking out of the window, writing poems in the stars. I wish I still had them.
    Then college, sitting in the “smoker,” more poems.
    Fast forward to graduate school, midstream, greatest gift to myself while I raised kids. Of course more poems, but I became enamored with creative nonfiction.
    I’ve never had characters floating around in my head. Maybe dance steps, though. No plots. But I could write about other peoples’ lives and do it well. So research and interviews and feature stories became my modus operandi.
    That, and a book (nonfiction) sitting neglected on a cyber shelf. Maybe someday it will beckon.

  5. “What is your writing time line? ”

    Started with keeping a diary from age 11 to age 18. Boys don’t keep diaries, or they weren’t allowed to then, so I didn’t let people know. But sometimes they found out.

    Started writing poetry as I slid deeper and deeper into pot-headity at ages 17 through 19, then tanked that for a while. Came to feel that all I was doing was turning tricks with words.

    Took a deep dive into the demimonde from ages 19 to 22, wrote scarce a thing then.

    Resumed writing at age 22. Mostly fiction. Couldn’t write worth a damn. Convinced my first wife to support me while I tried. That lasted for five years, during four of which I was too drunk for words. Intelligible ones, anyway. Sobered up and wrote a book that got Gordon Lish’s attention. Was invited to NYC to study and learn. Marriage fell apart and off I went.

    Have spent the intervening decades writing — sometimes pretty good stuff, y’know? — and wrestling angels at every ford.

    Running out of time now. Writing every day still. Sometimes some pretty good stuff, y’know?

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