• 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
  • Archives

What If Your WOrld Should Fall Apart

What were you hoping for? A thick medal with a ribbon the colors of the flag. A long line of people shifting their weight? Was it fingers smudged with typewriter ribbon from fixing a sticky key. Were you hoping to find a new way to describe a flock of geese, a craggy promontory, a kiss goodnight? Is this your notebook? Is this seat taken? Are you elevating, this being August? Did you go to the reading? Did you fuck a great writer? Did you lose his favorite pen or steal it? Does time fold in on itself like some gorgeous origami? Is that your writing desk? Can I see what you’re working on?

What is it like, your writer dream?

53 Responses

  1. Oh, Besty, I wanted everything. Simply that and nothing more. Simply everything. The medals. The money. The plaudits. The adoration. The love. The respect. The revenge.

    I had no fucking idea. I thought I knew it all because when I knew nothing I was told by people who knew even less that I knew everything. I had a big hole in my head and an even bigger hole in my heart and I would believe anything just to have something.

    And that heart broke. And it broke and it broke and it broke again and now it is shards and dust. And that head was stuffed with cotton candy and corn chips until it rotted from within to the ragged echoing shell it is now.

    And I sit at my desk and I write. The devil I sold my soul to is merciless and enchains me and torments me every moment I am not doing what I begged to be able to do.

    I wanted everything and I have nothing and I sit at my desk and I write.

    And I sit at my desk and I write.

  2. I wanted to become unbroken and I listened to that album everyday.

  3. I was hoping for one person or a few to realize maybe Jerry’s still alive and love is all you need or at least enough and maybe random kindness works and violence only begets violence. And I want them to realize this as I lead them through an internal dungeon or two. Oh and maybe enough green stuff to pay off the divorce residuals. And hell yeah you could see what I’m working on if it wasn’t midlist fiction dying for Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges and James Franco. And finally maybe find a word like Jennifer Egan’s alto.

  4. Easier than this, that’s for sure. I thought if only I can get a solid idea, I’ll be set! Psh.

  5. My dream is enveloped in fog. I do not move, allowing that soft damp to cling to my eyelashes and mingle with tears of frustration. Nearby, hazy shapes could be friend or foe; is someone calling my name? Perhaps the shapes won’t see me and I may eventually dissolve. My legacy: a puddle of regret and false hope, uncommonly deep and cold.

  6. I was and probably still am insular. When someone said my words resonated with something in them, I think I feel appreciated. I think that is what I never felt and never missed. It is no different than seeing a painting and saying it is lovely and as you walk away, someone says it is ugly. But if someone hung it up the painter felt someone appreciated it. Klimt’s Kiss was once labelled pornographic. Can you imagine that mind set?

  7. I’ve not thought much about it until this question was asked and now that it is, I realize the answer was just sitting there waiting for someone, anyone, to ask it. My writer’s dream seems to be about what’s going out from my writing rather than what’s coming in. And what I want to go out from my little collection of words is to reach right in and provoke a little expansion, a little awakening, a little quickening in a reader. In a place that was once dense, solid–or god knows, stolid–in a person, I want to loosen it up a bit, add a little air and light and create a little space for…”other.”

    When it happens to me while reading, listening to music, watching the Blue Angels fly in formation, or even gazing at intriguing architecture or a cute puppy, that shift, that inner earthquake–whether it really registers on any seismic scale or not–is so profoundly and unfathomably and ravishingly beautiful.

  8. I want a good time. Like the late at night people in the movie theater, popcorn in my lap, skin dancing with flashing images on the screen, I wait, knowing that in this life a crazy man might send me to the next.

    I want success. My short-term writing dreams of 1987 came true, six months ago. My long-term writing dreams… if I’m alive I won’t remember who I am.

    I will use the first-responders words…Oh, Betsy, I wanted everything. Simply that and nothing more. Simply everything. The medals. The money. The plaudits. The adoration. The love. The respect. The revenge. (Tet, you make me cry because you understand.)

    I am amazed because around my small town people are recognizing me.
    “I read your column”, they say, “I love it. You make me laugh. You are so funny. Sign this please.”

    Sign this, like an autograph. What’s happening? I am a minnow in a mud puddle and I feel famous. It is a dream come true, my little six-hundred words a week and though I am as grateful as having a healthy baby I selfishly want more.

    I want it all.

  9. The fame might be okay—the fortune would be better—but what I think I really want is for people to want to pay to read my stuff in sufficient numbers that my writing will be seen as a job by my family instead of just a time-consuming hobby.

    • I agree. I’d love to make a little money writing, enough to live a small life on and have fun doing it. Nothing more complex than that and yet, likely an impossible dream.

  10. I want my writing to capture and express emotions and images so beautifully that all who read them understand. And feel. And see.

  11. Harsh circumstances & responsibilities invaded my life at a young age, derailing any serious attempt at writing fiction. So, I read books, wrote voraciously in journals, saved a little money and dreamed of a writing life someday.

    Today I have that life and I don’t take it for granted. My stories fuel me, as I write them down. Yes, dealing with the publishing industry is harsh, but I’ve known worse. Bring it, I say.

  12. When the Dream Fairy first came, everything was on the table. I would be disgustingly rich, drive a Porche, relax in a condo on the Gulf. My story would be in production and starlets would throw their nubile bodies at me. And I believed the little puff-cheeked bastard. Is it self-doubt or reality that chipped away at that? Without even a pair to open, I said, “Okay, I give up all the money.” Then, just as readily, I pushed away the fame. “Readers,” I told the little fucker. “That’s all I want is readers!” But does he ask for anything; does he even give me a hint? Hell no. When I’ve had all I can take and I’m ready to punch his little pixie nose he slides out a card . . . self publishing. That’s a hell of a drop from when this dream opened.

  13. I want a life where I can do it at a later hour than five a.m., where it doesn’t have to pay all the bills, but enough of them that I can tell people without questioning myself that yes, I am busy. I have to go to work. No, it is not my day off.

    • I should add that this isn’t bitching. I have a super supportive wife and a life where I’m lucky enough to be able to get up early and write every day. You know, I just want more. Like we all do.

  14. My dream is to do whatever it was I decided upon before I came. I do believe I came to DO something — but what?

  15. My writing dream. I get on a plane in LA heading home after a riotously successful book tour. I am seated in first class next to Matt Damon and he is reading my book because his mother raved about it and he looks at the back cover, looks at me, looks at the back cover. I pretend I don’t recognize him and talk on the phone with my kids, still humble and regular and down-to-earth funny.

    There are more. They have shifted over the years. Now I have one where I accept my Oscar using a walker, oldest first-time winner. I have a slit in my dress like AJ, my legs still sexy for an old lady. After the show I party with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They cut up my food in small pieces and make sure I check my blood sugar in the morning.

    When I was a kid it was just to be in a bookstore or library surrounded by the smell and feel and taste of the stories and some of them would be mine. I wanted to write so a part of me would be there, at home, always.

  16. Never seen, but always with my head inside a dream, scanning the horizon, happy with my life but always willing to accept more, to see what’s around the next bend, perhaps a field of golden brown flowing in the breeze like the fat and fur on the running bear’s back, the land veering sharply uphill, the clouds lifting to reveal previously obscured peaks. A woman calls to me, frozen in time and happy at 39. A little girl who quietly says, “Daddy”, and suddenly nothing and everything are all that matter. And there are words that dance and run, never standing still long enough to read, the message they impart imploring me to keep searching; in words there might not be answers, but there is something. A quiet song, like a stream, plays on a silver string guitar.

  17. Hmm. My writerly dream. Okay. Let’s go big. Best seller, public recognition, big bucks, movie. Then living la vida grande. Travel, pied- a-terre in Paris, country homes in the south of France and in Italy. A nice place overlooking Italy’s Lake Como. A mild summer’s night of great food, terrific wine and great company on the patio of a fine country French home set on a hilltop with a to-die-for garden, with a striking view of vineyards tucked below between green valleys. Chin-chin.

  18. A higher understanding and balance of self, a four bedroom house preferably two stories with wall to ceiling bookcases, a husband that comes home and plays Tetris with his kids—holds me to sleep, then moves over to his side, a writing career that lasts longer than my organic shopping list, a PhD since the Masters isn’t enough—it’s never enough you see. A new way to breathe—a pulse that dances, the next echelon of utopian thinking, yes a vacation in Paris—maybe a whole gaggle of Geese there, no more anthracite burning me anxious—to attain an Agent, I meant soul mate, yes this is my notebook, no your seat’s not taken, once I get up off my knees—this being August already, not the reading but the writer’s group, no—the writer fucked me, neeeh—I bought my own Livescribe, just because my legs were in origami positions doesn’t mean I love hi—yes it’s my desk not yours, once I get all my Geese in a row—I’ll show you what I’m working on.

    Yes, it’s in my notebook, my writer dream that is.

    • Did you write this to music?

      • Nope. I wrote it to tea and sleepiness. It has always been an interest of mine, but no, never written much music.

        I do have a complete memoir I’ll start out sending soon. My mentors say it’s lyrical. Tell me you’re the fairy exec that’s going to down on a bar stool next to me, say I’m hired, and give me a deadline. Say it J.D., say it!

      • Been a while since I heard that. lol

  19. The dream was Hollywood it was Broadway it was Cannes and Gulfstreams and bubbly and plates of cocaineratherthanfoodpellets and “Hey, it’s you!” but now it’s only winning each morning against the doubt.
    Because the dream is still the same: Books that rend hearts.

  20. To find something worth saying. To be heard.

    Is this a trick question?

  21. I just got my weekly email from the NYTimes with the Book Review. Many reviews of books about how to write. Before my world fell apart, I would have bought them all with glee and curiosity and complete faith that I would learn and achieve. Now they make me sad.

  22. It WAS sex with hot girls, which happened anyway. Now it’s more about a certain type of reader.

  23. I too want it all. I think Tetman said it. And all the comments which followed filled in the gaps. If it hasn’t been said, revenge. Not sure for what or against who anymore. The word has such a lovely orange burning taste. Long ago when I did performance poetry I said I wanted to touch at least one person. Then a young woman in a bar bathroom told me I did before she shattered. I was completely unequipped to pick up her pieces. My heart still breaks for that. I want to know that if I smashed every mirror in my house I’d still exist. Without looking I’d exist. That some breath I took mattered as it was expressed. And the accolades, the accolades, the accolades. Yes, please.

  24. I’m not much of a dreamer, and I’m pretty contented. I’ll just keep on and see what happens next.

  25. To sit in lamplit darkness, scratching out light with black ink, light that will shine in a single reader’s eyes a hundred —no (be honest)—a thousand years from now. It’s the same light that transmutes as the stroke of a brush on canvas, or the stroke of an Olympic swimmer. It’s the glory of God, a flute song that invokes the vision, grand or small, in every act of creation.

    • beautifully said Tulasi-Priya and so true…I think this is why I cry watching the Olympians. All these years of trying to hammer out sentences makes me appreciate all they’ve done to get there.

  26. My writerly dream shifted, ran away from me on swift legs, but now it’s come home again. For a while I felt lesser because my publisher is small and my books aren’t lining the streets and I haven’t won prizes, but as I get swept up in promotion – major and minor – I realise that the right reaction has come through and it is good. All I want now is to write more. And better. That’s my dream, basta.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,080 other followers

%d bloggers like this: