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    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 am Yours Your are Mine You are What You Are


When I was in grad school, the world was divided into two camps: fiction writers and poets. Dogs and cats. Mice and men. It was unheard of for anyone to cross genres. I was a so-called poet and it never occurred to me to write a single line of prose. I was after line breaks. I was looking for images that obscured what I was feeling. A poem was a painting, a grove, a hideout, a cave. I was also trying to be funny. I wrote a sestina called Calories and Other Counts. I called my collection, Venus Envy. A professor I revered compared me to Fran Leibowitz and it wasn’t a compliment. I never wrote another poem after I left graduates school. Ten years later I wrote an advice book. How did that happen?

What’s your genre?

7 Responses

  1. I’m an essayist, columnist, and Op-Ed writer. You give me a subject, or better yet state an opinion, and I can knock out your word count and make your deadline. As a short form writer I have hundreds of published pieces to prove it.

    BUT…I so want to be a novelist.

    To paraphrase Mr. King, write what you write best. He wanted to write the Great American Novel, but horror was what he did best. We all know how that turned out.

    ME…I’m up to 80,000 words while tramping on Mr. Kings advice. My amazing NYT bestseller may never see an ISBN but it sure is fun trying.

  2. Poetry. I learned how to write prose this past decade, but it’s all line breaks (sentence length?) and juxtaposition.

  3. My genre is life expressed in the form of poetry, blog posts, and memoir. Non-fiction is what I love to read and also what I love to write.

    I have no idea how you got from poet to “advice book” but if you mean The Forest for the Trees, I’m so glad you did. That was an awesome book and a real eye opener as well as a page turner. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

    I have found that I generally love books written by authors with a poetry background because they have already learned how to make you feel a truth with only a few phrases. Without just spouting a fact, they let you taste it and feel it, see it, smell it, hear it until you’re fully immersed in it.

    What a gift!

    Now give yourself a gift; write yourself a poem. You’ll be glad you did!

  4. I’ve largely been a proseur. I fell into a pit of poetry from seventeen to nineteen, but stepped out of it when I felt all I was doing was turning tricks with words. When I was in my late 30s I got back into it, and churned out quite a few poems over the following few years, including several unpublished books.

    Almost ten years ago, I wrote a series of a couple dozen poems after I arrived in Chicago. I posted the first drafts to my blog, thereby wrecking any chance they had of being published in litmags, which will not take work that has been previously published in any form. I suppose I could change the titles, though I doubt that would work. The internet sees everything and remembers it all. It’s like a god that way.

    All through my long life of creative writing, I’ve occasionally turned to poetry, or something like it. For the most part now I do not write verse, and when I do, it goes into my copious files, if even there..

    And was any of it poetry, any of it verse? In the late 80s I wrote a long experimental piece. Though it was sometimes rejected with love, most times it hadn’t a hope. Recently an editor approached me, wondering if I had any experimental prose he could see. I rewrote the long experimental piece as prose and sent it in. He was so taken by it that, not only did he accept it, he paid money for it, though it will not be published until next winter. Go figure.

  5. I’m a novelist. It’s not what I’d choose for myself, if choices could be made. My temperament is surely better suited to poetry or short fiction, but these are not forms I understand on a structural level. Novels are easier by far than anything else I’ve tried to write (easier in terms of skill, I mean, time commitment notwithstanding), and because I’m a lazy bitch I tend to go with what I know. I do envy and revere the poets, though. I wish that were me.

  6. I’m a novelist.

    I have no understanding of poetry. I have written a couple of short stories, and IDK, that didn’t do much for me.

    I love the long-haul that comes with writing a book. I like spending a year or so on a project. I settle into them, like a comfy chair.

    In conversations, I’ve never been one to have a snappy or witty retort. I’m the one who wakes up the next day and thinks, I should’ve said . . .

    Maybe that’s why.

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