• 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

Got Two Reasons Why I Cry Awake Each Lonely Night

August. The month of my birth. The month of Helter SKelter. The month Jerry died. Guess who’s elevating? August, the beloved curmudgeon, cursing out some feckless bank teller. Vivian, creative genius pottering. Stacy Horn back to press. SSS on it. What was the world we had? Slipped away. Came back when most expected. Least longed for or the other way around. I am waiting for a kiss. A sweet embrace against a brick wall where we made out in 1985 and 1986 and then broke up and I wrote four last songs. What about two solid weeks to revise the document I call Fuckmedead. What about a dog’s leg resting in the crook of your arm? When did wheelhouse come into  the parlay? Not in my mental house. Not in this physical body. I have lost the thread. So what? The thread lost me.

Are lost, lonely, bitter, broken? Are you a real  writer?

37 Responses

  1. Perhaps I’m not a real writer, for I now find myself revelling in my lost, lonely, bitter brokenness.
    Does it even still count once you’ve begun to enjoy it?
    I am encouraged by your Fuckmedead document, as I sail on these sewers of fate, nearing the end of my own, called Not Fucking Feelings Again.
    Thanks Betsy, for making today better, the way you sometimes do.

  2. Happy birthmonth and yes I am real.

  3. Happy birthday! Be grateful you’re a friend of the devil.

  4. I’m waiting for a kiss too — happy birthday Betsy and all my fellow Leos!

  5. First, from one Leo to another: let the birthday month frivolities begin!

    At the moment, I am basking in the warm afterglow of encouraging praise from a successful author. I feel like the twelve year old who no longer has to sit at the kids’ table for holiday meals, like the new hire invited to the Board Meeting – is this how Hope really works?

    Perhaps. But I’m also expecting my kitten, at any moment now, to knock over something valuable. Reality is a jealous master.

  6. Oh Bets, girl o’ my heart, when can we get wheelhouse to leave the party, and how?

  7. I’m not bitter or broken. Dented, maybe.

    And I may be lonely, but I’m clearly not alone.

    I’m real today, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    Reality is overrated anyway, but writing doesn’t seem to be—so I’ll be a writer today, too.

  8. Are lost, lonely, bitter, broken?
    Sometimes, sort-of, always, cracked, chipped and damaged. Collective suffering does not make mine, or yours, easier.

    Are you a real writer?
    Is it real or is it Memorex? You tell me.

    I hesitate to wish you a happy birthday because once we reach a certain number birthdays become, not a special day to commemorate our birth, but an in the face, everybody celebrating, clock-ticking reminder, of what little time we get.
    Oh fuck it, blow out the candles, eat cake and sing the God-damn song.

  9. I guess not. I write mostly humor.
    Webb

  10. Ha! Dave Cullen mentioned on FB yesterday that he’d had dinner with you and you’d talked him off the ledge, and I commented that we writers miss hearing from you on your blog. And, just like that, a blog post from you shows up. Maybe I can divine Mr. Clooney in my bed after all…

  11. Yellow flowers appearing on the tall mullein plants along the trail by the lake. August is the last blast of summer. On Sunday, have a picnic.

    Yes, I’m a writer, as real as slender spider webs in the forest reappearing on the trip back after invasive hikers cleared the trail on their journey in.

  12. It’s always a kick to see a blog post from you, Betsy.

  13. A French compass with a mystery dial. So Dead.

    I heard some guy on NPR last week explain the difference between a tourist and a traveler, because he’s a traveler damn it and not a tourist and he has the book to prove it. Only tourists, really self-important tourists, think it’s important to make that distinction so that guy is definitely not a writer.

  14. You sound more pissed than sad. Brittle. Remember it’s a state, not life. I guess I am not a real writer, because I only write when I am in pain…maybe I should recognize this is the value of writing for me, the process–not the output.

  15. Lost, lonely and broken, working on bitter, dying for a kiss against the brick wall. I wonder if August planned his moniker so we’d think of him all month.

    (Those two sentences were originally in separate paragraphs. It took me ten minutes to decide they belonged together.)

  16. Am I a real writer? Boy, is that a loaded question. I write. All the time. Is it worth reading? Sometimes. Can I not do it? No. Does it break my heart? On a regular basis.

  17. My Leo daughter turns 30 this month. She’s typical of her sign…roars it how it is, generous with praise and love yet watch out for the sharp teeth. I’ve watched her grow from a mischievous lion-cub to leader of her own little pride. Am I a real writer? At my age I’d better be or what was it all for? My kids have promised not to stash me in a home in my departure lounge years. Just stick me under a nice tree with a laptop, a dictionary and a thesaurus, a flask of good coffee and the favourite books that keep me wanting to be a writer…somewhere where I can dream of past passions… and some gorgeous made up ones!
    I’m raising a glass to you, Betsy.

  18. Like we conjured you up with our thoughts, here you are, being Betsy.

    Lost, lonely, bitter, broken? Are you a real writer?

    If I can be two of the two, then yes, by all means, I’m a writer. Which two? Lost (mostly in figuring out the latest WIP) and yes, sometimes lonely. Bitter? Not yet. Broken? Not yet.

    Happy b’day MONTH to you!

  19. Betsy, my love, I have missed you. Happy birthday. Emphasis on happy.

  20. I’m the child of two Leo’s and only occasionally lost, lonely and bitter. Broken? Perhaps, a little. But still fully functional. And most definitely a real writer. God, I love it. Can’t imagine life without the written word.

    Happy birthmonth, Betsy, and to all others who entered the world during this delightful month.

  21. Betsy, I wish you good times, and propose a toast:

    “Here’s to us, and thems like us….theres’s damned few left!”

  22. I must be a real writer because the little pollyanna that resided in my head disappeared under suspicious circumstances and left a bitter hag in her stead.

  23. A real writer? I have been reading plenty of them. And am feeling pretentious, sore, giftless. Which means I will persevere, crush this thing, terrorise myself. Not broken or bitter, but in need of that word kiss.

  24. Betsy, you with the pointed stick, you provoked me, again. Thank you.

    Am I lost? No, but I have been, in every sense. It could happen again, and I’ll find my way. Again.

    Lonely? Rarely, though I am often alone.

    Bitter? No, and that’s a soul-killing shoal that I watch and listen for, and steer clear of. I never developed a taste for bile, and have never been a better man for it.

    Am I broken? Naw, but I have been, and it was no way to be, so, in the timeless way of grunts, I sucked it and marched on. The rest has been worth the blisters and aches.

    Am I a real writer? A well-hung jury is still out on that. As the one on trial, I don’t get a vote, but if I did, I’d say “On a good day, maybe.”

  25. Of course I’m a real writer, otherwise I’m broken.

  26. Lost more frequently these days. Just moved to Chicago. ATT comes by tomorrow to internet my apartment and I can stop dicking around with public wifi and smart phones. this fucking smart phone I am fed up.but still a writer.

    • Is the windy city ready for tet?
      Hope the time hauling ass and making memories with your son went well.

      • ATT postponed a day so presently I am siting at a small round table in the Starbucks corner of a Dominick’s supermarket in the far north end of Oniontown. I skippered a Penske 26-footer diesel 1350 miles, my trusty spawn and first mate by my side, and was more than once heard to say (by him), “I cannot fucking believe I am doing this.” But I was and I did and we did and dammit, we did it.

        I just cannot fucking believe it, that’s all. Susan and I live now in an apartment in a building one-half block from Lake Michigan and every morning I go to the lake and I think, thinking things like “Ain’t that purty?” and “Ain’t life strange?” and “Ain’t I glad no one in Oniontown has heard me say ‘ain’t’?”

  27. Happy Birthday, Betsy! I am lost, lonely, bitter and broken most days. Am I writer? Yes. One who is not writing due to being lost, lonely, bitter and broken. Onward.

  28. Happy birthday, Betsy. Lost, yes; bitter and broken, not so much. Unless I’m in denial, which is highly possible.

  29. August 9: Happy Birthday, Betsy.

    I’ve seen the rain pouring down
    The sky was grey with a speck of blue
    Peek through a hole in the clouds
    The sun was screaming, “Hey You!”.

    From me and Jerry, a toast: Hey You!

  30. Definitely a fake writer.

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