• 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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Just Give Me a Reason Just a Little Bit’s Enough

I had a good day today. Chapter Ten was like a math equation such that no matter what I did, it didn’t add up. I struggled with it for a week, tried to break it in two. Made a thousand small cuts. Rewrote two sections from scratch. Added a new section. Then I saw that I had made incremental mistakes with the order, so I ironed that out. And then things started to fall into place. At least until I look at it tomorrow,

How can you tell if something works?

9 Responses

  1. I have to step away from it for a while. I’m too involved and whether I’ve made it clear or not, I know what I mean. I read it again later to see if it still makes sense, if everything is in the right place. I always save a copy of what it was and I sometimes read that, then the new version to see if it’s really fixed or just broken in another place.

  2. Good question. We are largely word blind to our own faults. That extends to larger life too. I guess start with humility.

  3. “How can you tell if something works?”

    I don’t know. That’s the secret sauce to my creative process — I simply don’t know. Often it’s a matter of, does it feel right? Later I might look at it and say, no, that’s not really working. Then it’s either change it or ditch it.

    But, how to know? Like, with the forebrain know? You can know the basics, like, if the words are in the right order, right off the bat. But are they the right words you need or want to express this thing in you that has to come out? That can be when it gets tricky. I know I’m not telling any secrets here.

    Sometimes you need someone else to tell you. Composing with words can be like composing music or composing a painting, but sometimes it’s just not. Sometimes you can’t tell for sure if something’s working, or working the way you think it is or want it to, until somebody else reads it, someone you can in some way trust. They will tell you, and you will say, oh, you’re right, I didn’t see that, or, oh, of course, or, my god I can’t believe I made that mistake.

    Often it’s a matter of working the material. Work it, over and over, till you get it right, or you reach the point of, f*ck this, this is never going to work, and you move on. We’ve all been there. Or we better have, because if we haven’t, we’re not serious, and we have no clue what we’re doing.

  4. I can never tell, and that’s a problem. But it’s not my problem. I’ve reached some level of writerly nirvana, or perhaps purgatory, at which all hope of that connection is lost. What I care about now is that the journal and stories I leave behind should serve as the stenciled hand on the wall of my cave, that there will be some impression of my world to survive me. The reader is only present in my mind as a specter, and I can’t be bothered to do her work and mine as well. If the writing makes sense to me, if it sounds like me and feels like me, that’s good enough.

    • Sing!

    • Yes. Yes. I’m going to write this down, for sure.

      Thank you for this, Averil. You nailed it. Lately, Im sending all kinds of shit out into the world, without worry. I just don’t care anymore. Getting better results, too. I burned some old journals on the solstice and I’m editing what I’ll leave behind.

      I love the way you phrased this. Thanks.

  5. It makes me smile and it gives me a tickle deep inside.

  6. I know exactly what you mean – I do that in writing and choreographing a dance – I describe it also like a math equation., and I’m not good at math.
    It’s just the process. I’ve learned to live with that awkward, self critical mind game during the beginning stages of creativity- sometimes chewing gum helps that part of my brain to quiet down while creating. As long as you recognize this is part of the creative process and just trust to walk through the jungle before getting to a great place, that will help. Don’t get emotional about the negative.
    When it gets too negative and hinders the creative process- walk away and give it time to settle.
    Trust and Good luck, you can do it.

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