• 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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NOthing Compares 2 U

Please do yourself an enormous favor and buy this book and come to a reading. If you know Rosemary Mahoney’s writing, then you will be delighted to see how her extraordinary powers of observation can actually show you how the blind see. If you are new to her work, you will be dazzled by the prose style. And then so much more.

“A spiritual odyssey into the world of the blind. . . .  A beautiful meditation on human nature.” [starred Kirkus]

CONTEST: Three copies (first, second and third prize) to the best answers to this question: when you’re writing, when you’re sitting in front of a monitor or a notebook, what do you see?

EVENTS

NEW YORK

January 25th, 2014.  The Rubin Museum of Art, 7:30 pmRosemary Mahoney, Sabriye Tenberken, co-founder of Braille Without Borders, and neurologist Sabine Kastner will speak as part of the Museum’s Brainwaves Series.

January 27th, 2014, Wings WorldQuest Fundraiser, 6:00 pmRosemary Mahoney speaking with Sabriye Tenberken Top of the Garden 251 W. 30th Street

BOSTON

January 29th, 2014 at 5:30 pm.  BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS  Rosemary Mahoney and Sabriye Tenberken will speak at the National Braille Press event at

The IBM Client Center, One Rogers Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

 RHODE ISLAND

February 14th, 2014  Books on the Square, Wayland Square, Providence. 7:00 pm

March 13th, 2014  Island Books, Middletown 6:30 pm.

April 3, 2014  The Redwood Library, Newport, Rhode Island at 5:30 pm

“In this intelligent, humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind, many of them from impoverished cultures with little sympathy for their plight.  She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dignity.” — Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon

“This joyful, thoughtful book took me on an emotional journey and introduced me to people I’ll never forget. With her wonderfully sharp prose and great sense of humor and humanity, Rosemary Mahoney has written a riveting narrative that combines world-class reporting, science, history, and travel writing. For the Benefit of Those Who See has changed forever the way I view my senses, and made me aware of how I do and don’t experience the world.”—Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

44 Responses

  1. Too often, I see a blank page. Always, I envision a masterpiece.

  2. I write memoir and personal essay, so I suppose I see what I did not see so clearly before.

  3. I see nothing. At all. Just a big fat white blank screen. Staring at me. And then I can’t take it anymore and I type a word, which triggers another word, and even if they are terrible words, my nothingness becomes something and something is way less offensive than nothing.

  4. Ink on the page like breath or tears.

  5. I see rhythm. I see music. I see a book I’ll never write.

  6. I write memoir so when I’m writing I actually see the scene I’m writing – I see the actual memory and then normally I have to puzzle some things out, like the perceptions I had as a participant as a child, perhaps, and how they’re maybe different from how I would view this today. It’s almost like a camera roving around the scene looking at things, the people, the time. When I’ve explored that, I’m done writing right then.

  7. >when you’re writing, when you’re sitting in front of a monitor or a notebook, what do you see?<

    A world behind water.

  8. I see an unfolding, a revelation and a very amused muse.

  9. Answer:

    my guts, and the guts of everyone I know.

  10. I see the reason I get up in the morning.

  11. My mother took in the blind…for the state. She and my dad live in a duplex, and they used to use the other side (what they call the apartment) for the blind people. She cooked for them, helped them wash their clothes, shopped with them, gave them advice (even if they didn’t want/or need it – just like she did me) I plan to buy two copies – one for her, and one for me.

    When you’re writing, when you’re sitting in front of a monitor or a notebook, what do you see?

    Initially, a roomful of strangers. By the end, old friends, old enemies.

  12. My monitor is a window open to the future. Through it I see a story of the past where history and reality are not firm. When my toils on the story are complete, the window closes and everything becomes the past.

  13. I don’t SEE anything. I FEEL.

  14. I see it all.
    The sights – pastel checkered pattern on the tired couches and big multicolor carpet blocks. The sounds – hushed murmur of the maternity waiting room and barely discernible Weather Channel sound track from the flat-screen hanging on the wall. The smells – faint of onions from the Subway bags in the waste bin left by another family, like us, waiting for a baby to be born.
    Our first grandchild came to us at 10:26 last Saturday night. I wonder how far into the future this little girl, and the choices she makes, takes our DNA.
    It is all there – the view I see through her baby-eyes.

  15. “[W]hen you’re sitting in front of a monitor or a notebook, what do you see?”

    I see all of creation, from the outer edges of the observable universe to the inner squiggles of subatomic strings. I see that which is, that which was, that which may be, and even that which shall never come to pass. It’s all there. I see it with my mind and I touch it with my words.

  16. When I look at a blank page or screen I see it as a wormhole to another dimension where anything can happen. I can travel back or forward in time or decide to write about today. I can walk with dinosaurs, ride with outlaws, help Moses carry the Ten Commandments – anything my lil’ heart desires, my mind thinks and wills my hands to type.

  17. On a good day? A musical score for the soul. The words that, when fed through the mind, play the strings of the heart.

  18. I see the ledge.

  19. At a blank screen, seeing is hearing. I see/ hear what I ultimately want the reader to see/ hear.

    To see what I see, view in this order, then repeat: Invitation. Trepidation. Procrastination. Inspiration. Perspiration. Concentration. Hesitation. Experimentation. Negotiation. Negation. Re-creation.

    Alternately, I just see a buffet of words.

  20. I see what a hoarding random mess I’ve made of my files scattered from my last project and various downloads from paranoid late night web forays. I see metaphor everywhere I look.

  21. I see hope and hopelessness.

  22. We had a boy in my class in fourth grade who was totally blind, but he could identify the colors of things by touching them. I gave him my hat. “Orange,” he would say. Scarf, “Multicolored, but mostly red.” I think I gave him something new every single day. He was never wrong. The coolest time was when he held the sleeve of my sweater to identify the color and then moved to hold my bare hand. “Your sweater is solid green, but you are silvery blue and a bright yellow gold.” I was fascinated. Still am. Yeah, I’ll get the book!

    I see the scene I’m writing. What the room looks like, where everyone’s standing, the subtle expressions of their faces, the furniture in the room. I can’t even write the scene unless I know the colors of every single thing everyone’s wearing. I direct the movie in my mind.

    I’d love to think I’m a writerly Zhang Yimou, Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, and even Nancy Meyers, but I’m really probably Michael Bay and John Waters.

  23. a couple sentences that scare the living shit out of me.

    e.g. “i am a bad daughter in secret, behind closed doors, in parked cars. i fuck boys with bad haircuts and cut-off jeans.”

  24. Solid white, the slope of Mt. Everest.

  25. The death that awaits, the beauty of claims of reconcilliation followed by the epiphany of a brutal truth.
    Preceded by:
    Life, liberty and happiness for a fortunate few; an ambiguous uncertainty for the rest.

  26. I see the story I’m working on. It’s decent, but just when memories delve deep, I see the screen switch to photos of celebrities without makeup (cellulite will work also), vacation rentals by owner in Ireland, and Frye harness boots the color of cognac on eBay.

  27. I see truths — for which eyes are no help — and they name me, shame me, blame me, frame me. Who gives a flying flittery fluttery fuck, I’m half off my meds and half off my head and half way to d(r)ead and I like it.

  28. Opportunity.

  29. One chance to commune with the reader.

    No reason to force experience into language, except for that chance that we meet on the page.

  30. I see beauty. In weaved, complex, glorious texture.

  31. A really shitty movie. I try to make it an okay book.

  32. As the words dance dutifully across the screen,
    look closely at the white spaces in between.
    There it lies, my soul barely alive
    Clinging to dreams that will never die.

  33. I see the Kentucky Conestoga my great-great-grandmother took in 1842, the dueling grounds of New Orleans where her French red-haired husband spent his childhood, the lightning bolt that killed her mother as she leaned into a hearth, the ivory-billed woodpecker in the old-growth forest, the petition for states’ rights that sent her husband into the Confederate Army, the prison camp in Chicago after The Battle of Buffington, the oath of allegiance that got him released, their long walk at night to Texas to escape bushwhacker-mad Missouri, more wagon trains, Apaches along the Concho, shredded paper money thrown around a campground by Kickapoo after a battle, and the rock monument built by the 4th Calvary where they found and buried his body and those of his friends killed after a cattle drive on the Goodnight Loving Trail. These ancestors and their lives fill my mind, my screen, my waking and dreaming — soon to fill the pages of my novel in progress.

  34. I have to make myself blind before I can see. I’m a slow learner so it took several years of writing over-determined short stories (an MFA’s worth) to figure out I had to write around my intention to gain access to the compost pile in my brain where new matter might sprout. And even now, it takes several drafts before something never-before-seen, more felt, pops into my head. Hours, days, months even of tapping away at the laptop before I can see anew.

  35. I know I already submitted a response, but the whole thing’s bugging me. How vague of me and somewhat dishonest… Look, when I see a blank screen it’s more than unfolding revelations, it’s bullet holes and mile markers rolling by… It’s holy roller sermons from yellow-toothed preachers with fat wives who fuck parishioners in the pews after hours… it’s beer bellies and green teeth, designer suits and shitty martinis… it’s different every time, but always honest.

  36. I see a great light in the form of an entire dazzling literary world, like the way you see a city at night from far above, which I will never, ever be able to create exactly as I see, but I am going to try, and probably I will try for years, like 15 of them, and I will keep trying until everybody has rejected the thing, and I am the last person standing, and finally someone comes along and says, “You know what, I see that amazing light too, and I’m going to publish the damn manuscript and pay you exactly zero dollars and zero cents, which is okay because you will receive your rewards in other ways and that’s just what it means to carry the light at this late date in the publishing word, bro.” This is, by the way, exactly what happened to me, finally. Finally, finally. And now when I see a blank page, I see the whole thing all over again, and I consider myself the luckiest writer on earth…because, man, what a f***ing view there is from up here. Can you see it?

  37. Reblogged this on critiqueen5 and commented:
    I’m going on the 13th! Who’s with me?

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