• 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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If You Leave Me Now You Take Away the Biggest Part of You

Sometimes when I’m wrestling with a sentence or a paragraph or a phrase that proves elusive, I tell myself to fight for it. Don’t just let it go because you can’t make it better or grasp it or transform it in the moment. When do you fight and when do you throw in the towel. Or give it a few days and see if it yields. It’s like sitting in traffic.

How do you break through?

7 Responses

  1. I struggled with a chapter for weeks. It was the basketball scene and I don’t even like basketball. Or most sports, as a rule. I just couldn’t get it going. We went up to the mountains for the weekend, but they closed the tunnel on the highway, so we had to come back home. I sat down at my computer the next day, after unpacking from “the trip,” and the chapter poured from me. Done. Sometimes time is your answer. But give your brain some space and time, and then come back to it. Sometimes I work on something else. I think the point is to leave it and do other things. Lord knows we have lots of other things to do! And I talk to my muses. Always fun.

  2. I always fight. I’m never satisfied unless I know it’s what I want, that it’s good, or at least I think it’s good. So, I do all of the above, but, there’s one little trick I’ve learned works well (at least for me) and that’s to read. I’ve had this help so many times, I have to think there’s something about our brains that makes a connection by reading another writer’s work. This means, I’ll keep some of my favorite author’s books nearby, and if I need to move on (b/c I’ve tried all of the above) I’ll crack open a book and begin reading. It sometimes takes a page or two. Sometimes it only takes a sentence. I can’t explain it, but it works.

  3. “How do you break through?”

    I’m wrestling with the answer. It’s like a question about a legal issue — so much of any answer depends upon the specific underlying facts.

    Sometimes you tweak one word, reorder one clause, take a little something out, put a little something in, take two little somethings out here, put those two little somethings in there.

    Sometimes you wait — often you may find yourself doing this — and you let the matter percolate. Something will bubble up.

    Sometimes you say, Aw, the hell with it, and you cut the whole paragraph and start again.

    But you don’t let go. If the work means anything to you, you don’t let go. You give it the same loving attention and care and patience you would give to any living being you care for — because it is a living being, this piece of work you’re working on, and it is of you, and it is you.

    Do you break through or do you go with the flow? You pay attention and do whatever it takes. The answer will come to you.

  4. I don’t know. Maybe later, I will know. Maybe later I’ll forget what the fuss was about.

  5. Struggling with a line or word, I just type FIX and move on. When I have precious momentum don’t want it to stall, and often the solution is easy when I revisit the line, in part because of fresh eyes and in part because, having written more, I better know what that line or phrases can do.

  6. I skip a couple of lines and move on. If I don’t go back right away it’s like an itch that I just keep picking at until it feels comfortable. Sometimes it all falls into place quickly. The solutions that end up being the best often happen like Donna said, after reading someone else’s’ work.

  7. If I can’t resolve it in a few minutes, I just highlight it (I write on my computer) and move on. I revisit it after my subconscious has had some time to mull it over. Sometimes it doesn’t get resolved until I’m finished with the whole piece but once it’s highlighted and I know I can find it easily, I don’t let it worry me.

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