• Here’s the Story

    I wrote a book called The Forest for the Trees and it’s an advice book for writers. For four years, I blogged every day about the agony of writing and publishing, and the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gathered and thus ensued a grand conversation. Now, the most popular posts are gathered in Greatest Hits ( a work in progress) Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I've learned one thing about writers, it's this: we really are all alone. Love, Betsy
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In the arms of my love, I’m flying over mountain and meadow and glen.

If I can’t have a little mental breakdown on my blog where can I? In other words, sorry for yesterday and thanks for so many notes of encouragement. “Sometimes I think my head is so big because it’s so full of dreams.” Sometimes I think my head is so big because I’m going to the National Book Awards reading tomorrow night  and the awards ceremony Wednesday. Sometimes I think my head is shoved up my ass.

Many have asked: what am I wearing to the National Book Awards. You know it’s going to be one of those last minute decisions that I’ll make with my gut:  my black suit or, er, my black suit. Some want to know if I will be wearing heels. No. Will I get my hair blown out. No. Nails done? No? Accessories? No, no, no. I will clean my glasses with sudsy hot water. I will floss.

I expect my pumpkin to turn into a cab, my dog into a great gold Palomino, and my fairy godmother to appear either as Elizabeth Bishop or Beyonce. Steve Martin will be my prince or a footman. Sonny Mehta will be the king and I will kiss his ring. James Frey will be the jester in a coat he borrowed from James Dean. The night will be magical. I won’t look at my blackberry but once and then it will be a minute to midnight.  And then we will know what we’ve known along.

If I could grant you one (writing) wish, what would it be?

46 Responses

  1. Leave the blackberry at home.
    Wear high heels — “Tina Turner shoes” — on my behalf.
    As Dr. John would say, “Such a Night”! sounds great

  2. I don’t know right now what my one writing wish would be. I’m still in awe that you used a photo of a Breyer horse on your blog. With a purple backdrop.

  3. My one wish in writing would be to write something that is, from beginning to end, absolutely true and honest.

  4. I will not tell you, for here is not the place. I would rather sing dirges in the dark and sit on a candlestick, fire my only friend, than give true voice in this forum to my burning desire.*

    Enjoy the reading and the ceremony. Make sure your head’s in the right place, or you may look odd (and have trouble hearing).

    (*No, it’s not to have sex with you. You’re cute, but my wife would kill me. Or worse yet, kill herself, for she loves me muchly.)

  5. I want to write something that makes you laugh until you piss your black suit followed by something that makes you cry like a needy-neurotic who just got dumped on Facebook.

    forget what you’re wearing. tell us who got drunk; who made an ass of themselves; and who wouldn’t shut up. i want the dirt.

    (i’m totally screwing myself out of ever being taken seriously by any members of the (book) academy, am i not? or is it ain’t i?)

  6. Wrap dress Betsy, wrap dress.

    The writing wish is simple: to live off it.

  7. I was going to wish for pretty cover art, but I’m going to have to agree with SpringChicken. I don’t need much, just enough to buy bread and chocolate.

  8. Your quote about big heads and big dreams made me smile and then think and then smile again. Thank you.

    I think we can all take care of the writing – if we stop being afraid and just write, write, write. Removing that constant fear that is looking over our shoulder: that is what a writing genie would do.

    I love your blog – thank you for the generous contribution you are making to the writers’ community!

  9. I love the way you write blog posts. My one writing wish would have to be a clear and crisp voice–my own voice, wherever it is and whatever it sounds like.

  10. Oh granter of wishes in the black suit, all I wish for, is for my wife to see my “HOBBY” as the second career I do. Sadly only a check in the mail box can do that.

  11. Ah Betsy, you make me smile, a lot. A woman after my own heart in the wardrobe department. I loved your ‘breakdown’ yesterday, I love how you put yourself out there all the time.

    As for writing wishes I request that my name goes on the cover of The Hours, that all that came out of my head, that his ideas and words were mine. That being said I’d settle for a rejection letter from you that had 3 lines of constructive feedback…

    Bobbi

  12. My writing wish would be that the next email my agent gets is an editor saying “My goodness, we LOVE this! Please tell me there’s a second book to follow up, because we’ll take both!”

    Perhaps shallower than the other wishes, but I never claimed to be a marvelously deep person. :-)

  13. A wish is nothing more than asking the air for a favor–one of my narrators said that and I believe it, too.

    The Breyer horse brings back memories of the fifties. I used to sell tons of them in my father’s toy store.

  14. Black is perfect for an evening out. One writing wish? Oh, nothing too much, just the Idea. I’ll do the rest.

  15. Oprah.

  16. more time

  17. I want people to stop patting my head and commenting how nice it is that I have a “therapeutic outlet.”

    • An inlaw was actively sending me job postings until my husband told her she was obnoxious and to mind her own business. I love that man.

  18. The perseverance to get through the editing process. At least my new editor is great. Birds of a feather and all that.

  19. My writing wish is for just two more hours in the day, please, so this working mama can polish the pants off her memoir (it can have pants if I say so).

  20. Writing Dreams (with an ‘s’): (1) For all those great ideas that ping my brain at 2 a.m. to show up during daylight; (2) An hour-long interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show; (3) To get one, just one!, of those fellowships I apply for every year.

  21. a title for my collection of shorts. i’m struggling.

  22. Bright With LIghts And Moving Fast gets my vote. As long as the cover has a Paul Klee print on it (one of his North African abstract watercolors).

    Betsy — I liked the dress you wore to She Writes. So subversive, and it had pockets.

    And my writer’s wish: please don’t let Christopher Hitchens die.

  23. My life long writer’s wish (not really overlapping my life long writer’s project) is to be able to write like what I’m reading. To be able to easily try a style on for size, to reverse-engineer, if you like (even if you don’t). To make of myself a temporary model of the writer I’m reading, to add another level to literary understanding. And then, of course, to use this ability to write terrific literary parody.

    /Debbie

    http://furnishedrooms.wordpress.com

  24. Bright with Lights and Moving Fast

  25. My writers wish– that J.D. Salinger’s estate up and announces they have at least ten complete and ready to publish novels–that would thrill me for so many reasons.

    Oh yeah, and to get my book published by a publisher I admire.

  26. thanks for the feedback. guess i’m going back to the drawing board.

    titles.

    i have a thing for words that begin with B.

    thanks to Betsy for the platform (!) for a bit of market research.

    • There’s nothing wrong with B but I believe “P-is-the-best-letter-in-the-whole-alphabet.”

      Beautiful, Broken sounds tender and sad. Melancholy.

      Bright with Lights and Moving Fast sounds like there could be some mania and self destruction thrown into the above mix. Kind of exciting.

      Right here, right now. Can’t get the song to stop playing in my head… “there is no other place I want to be,”

  27. To write a song like “Land.”

  28. Have a glorious time at the reading tonight and awards tomorrow, Betsy.

    I’m so thrilled for both of you. I believe Easter was the fourth album I ever got, but the one I truly treasure is Horses. She turned me on to all the rest of my favorites, though: Elvis C, Graham Parker, The Clash.

    Here’s my l post on why she means so much to me–and a bit on why you do, too:

    http://www.davecullenblog.com/2010/11/why-i-love-patti-smith-rooting-for-you.html

  29. I wish the book fairy would explain the fourth genre, because I think that’s what I’m writing. And, for future reference, how to pitch it.

  30. Why not a sudsy soap bubble dress and gladiators strung together with dental floss?

    Have fun! You know these parties sound like dream-events to a lot of us, right?

    Writing wish: To get better at it, to be secure financially so I can devote myself to it.

  31. Have a wonderful time!! Black suit, no heels – perfect. Imagine attending that glorious ceremony without foot pain!

    Writing wish: an agent.

  32. Are others really concerned with what you wear, if you get your hair and nails done, rather than just hoping you have a great evening. I hope you just have an amazing time, no matter what you wear and with your hair not blown out. :) My one writing wish would be a book deal…thank you so much for asking! :)

  33. The right words.

  34. My wish is that I wake up in a week from a fevered haze to find I’ve finished a huge revision of my book and it doesn’t suck.

  35. That one of the eight or so editors who are reading makes an offer on my novel.

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