• 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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Ain’t No Valley Low Enough

Someone recently asked me if my clients wrote a lot or had trouble writing during Covid. One writer called me three weeks into the pandemic and said, “I have an idea. I want a contract. If I don’t have something to do I’ll go crazy.” Another client calls every two weeks to describe in detail why she couldn’t write, obsessed with every detail of Covid. But everyone else mostly chugged along, many grateful for their screen and keyboard, their sandbox.

How have you managed and how are you managing?

11 Responses

  1. I’m still not writing, but I may start again. I was rereading old email correspondence with Shanna, and I feel like it would be an insult to her memory to not write, since she was so encouraging to me. But as I mentioned in my email to you, I feel like going so long without writing and being involved in very non-writing stuff has maybe changed my brain too much. We shall see.

    Also: seriously, I’m the first to comment? Where the hell is everyone?

    • So good to see you. I don’t think it’s the brain. I think it’s the DNA.
      If you can share a letter or paragraph from Shana, that would be wonderful. We all miss her so much.

  2. I’m writing most days, if only just a little. It helps with the anxiety.

  3. There’s an idea I’ve had for years that I knew I couldn’t write. I have so much shame and secrecy around having a same sex ex. Or being bi. Or something. It’s taken me this long to realize that’s what it is. I have always pretended it was my introversion, my need for privacy. For safety.
    I live in a far-right suburb, outside of a very blue major city. Then came Trump, Covid, #MeToo, Proud boys, fires, floods, drought, #Ican’tbreathe, aging parents, aging children, remote learning…you get it. And I thought now I can tell the story. Because it’s so minor comparatively. And the only thing keeping me afloat is reading right now. So maybe I could write.
    Then I remembered I gave up on writing. It seemed to me the thing you did because you couldn’t not do it. Or rather, that’s what I have been told. And I can totally just not write.
    Years ago I wrote a novel that was bad. Objectively bad. I have spent years not writing. Recently a conversation with my 16 year old son, reminded me of how differently his generation thinks. And how genuine and authentic he is in his life. My novel was bad because I couldn’t be authentic. I’d like to say while writing, but really, the need for approval was so ingrained I had no idea I was writing it, breathing it, into everything. That need sucks the life out of everything: relationships, writing, living, every-fucking-thing. I am too tired of every soul-sucking thing going on around the world, to keep being the way I have been.
    So the old idea, has never gone, but recently, it popped up to get there from a different perspective, a younger person, who’s been through all the things. I sat outside looking at my garden and watching this hummingbird that lives nearby. And I thought about telling my son as a toddler that a cicada wing was a fairy wing that was pushed out for a bigger wing to come in.
    And the idea, the main character, the fairy, and me being only me collided with me wanting to write something to just take a break from it all.
    I think the idea has something.
    So to answer the question, no I haven’t been writing. I reread this and it’s so disjointed. I’m rusty at getting my thoughts to my hand.
    Maybe I’ll play around with the idea.

  4. Nothing changed for me during Covid – nothing has changed now. I’ve written through a lot of things in the past 4 years. It’s good to have blinders on sometimes. Writing has always given me hope.

  5. “How have you managed and how are you managing?”

    First, how you doin’? I hope you’re not having to swim today.

    I started writing a novel right as Covid first broke. It’s not a novel I think will ever be published, but I’ve written novels like that before, so I have experience with that endeavor. Why write it, then? Because I have to. Because at the crossroads, at midnight, on the new moon, I made the deal.

    Also, I’ve written 20 short fictions, assembled two chapbooks, and assembled one short story collection in this, the beginning of the ending of our world. So it looks like I’m doing all right.

    The one little glitch is the addictive personality I have — it has become addicted to political news. I’m having a hard time putting down that ducky, kicking that fix. It could be worse, I know — it could be alcohol or even worse than that.

    I suppose I could call it a hobby. You asked the other day about hobbies, so yes, let’s say I have a hobby — compulsively following political news, feeling helplessly enraged, ensorrowed, diminished, followed by going out and shaking my fists at the clouds.

  6. How have you managed and how are you managing?

    Frankly, I’m floundering.
    I’m going to be very honest.

    Boys and girls take a minute to glean a bit of knowledge from someone who has been doing what I do for a hell of a long time.
    This is where I’m at.

    A while back by mutual agreement with a new editor it was time to retire my column. Editorial decisions were changing, the paper was shrinking, and BAM, Covid slid all of us into a whirlwind of uncertainty. My column which expounded on the reasoning’s of life, as seen through my rear-view mirror were and are, no longer relevant, survival is. Who the hell am I anyway? The relief from an everlasting deadline was palpable.

    The world became and still is way too serious, as it should be.
    I spent shutdown doing jigsaws. What a waste of F-en writing time.
    Up til then I had enough written to paper a stadium while knowing that because of time and circumstance, (meaning era and age), it is all for naught.

    Yes, I am blaming the time we live in and my age.

    Agents and editors always say the same thing, “Well, if it’s good enough we’ll take you on.” BS.
    No long career ahead for me. The glory of my column, articles, assigned pieces, op-eds and essays are like I said, in the rear-view mirror. At this point I will take what I can get.

    So there you go writers. Write your damned heads off or a few decades from now you will be wondering why you wasted all that writing-time doing what we do, living life. Or figure out how to do both.
    Don’t wait.
    Don’t hesitate.

    Continue to learn, execute and deliver because you may think…I have a great idea but I’ll wait until I finish school, have a better job, get married or get divorced. The kids are too small and the grown ones haven’t moved out yet or this whole Covid thing has glued your fingers to the fridge and not the keyboard. And you think…when it’s all over THEN I’ll have the time to write.

    Hey boys and girls there is no THEN there is only NOW.

    And Betsy you are amazing. Because of you some of us are more able to manage then others.

  7. Finding it hard to write but trying.

  8. My wife and I managed to save an embarrassing amount of money by not going out to restaurants during the pandemic (and mostly since). But aside from that, and the ponytail I grew, it didn’t really affect us much at all. We weren’t/aren’t social people, so staying in wasn’t a problem for us.

    I did manage to write an entire novel — a pretty good one, I think — in 2020. I don’t know if that’s a result of the pandemic or if it would have happened anyway.

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