• 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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The Truth Is I Never Left You

Four screenplays, the first third of a novel called The Resignation of Rochelle Epstein, a memoir of my pottery lessons, a daybook about marriage called The Marriage of Parsnip and Potato, YA thriller about bullying, a book about writing called The Imaginary Friend, a poetry collection called Venus Envy and a novel in the form of a diary about my friend Raymond. These are the abandoned. The lost, neglected and missing. These are the tiny terrors. The unfinished, unwashed, and unwanted.

What work have you left by the roadside like so much kill?

28 Responses

  1. Most of them. *sigh*

    I would guess every one of your discarded mss is fabulous, as is everything you write. As long as they don’t contain creepy images of decapitated doll heads. Jesus. Just as I hoped to finally fall asleep.

  2. Myself.
    Now there’s a piece of work.

    • This is exactly right, Harry.
      I feel precisely the same way about me.

      The thing is, I see the space in my head
      where I will be.
      But I can’t seem to lift a finger
      to piece it together.

      I think I just decided my epitaph:
      Had she only lifted a finger, she would have achieved greatness.

  3. …two smiling faces in the piles of coca leaves, and a reverend with a saxophone trio

  4. I am sitting in the middle of nowhere in SW France sorting through my abandoned screenplays and poetry, one page at a time. It feels good to finally decide to finish them or add them to the fire. I need to make room for the story I’m working on now and I’ve too much unfinished business lurking in my creative top drawer.

  5. Ha! Three novels, one thriller, many short story clippings, no poems thank God because they would have been just awful.

  6. In one case, I carved out the good parts – after mourning the loss of the whole – and it worked out: I won something or other, and that gave me just enough of a kick in the rear to keep at it. There is another, more recent mess I need to contend with, but I haven’t yet found the strength to hold my nose and pick it apart.

  7. My delete button’s seen a lot of action lately.

  8. One dystopian fantasy, one roman à clef, two memoirs, a chapbook-sized collection of poetry, enough short stories to fill an anthology.

  9. Maybe forty notebooks in a script I no longer recognise. Three stillborn novels. And my current piece which I think just might make it ( with prayers to St Betsy). I’m actually feeling quietly optimistic: I don’t care if ‘they ‘ buy it; I do care if they read it.
    P.S. I would buy everything you wrote BL

  10. So Betsy, which are you, parsnip or potato?

    My body bags?
    8 years ago – Twenty-eight year old virgin and Scrabble champion saves Native American school.
    7 years ago – Single almost-forty professor finds love, with someone else, after her comatose boyfriend wakes up.
    3 years ago – Think Ruth Madoff living in a welfare motel, waiting tables for less than minimum wage but able to keep her tips.
    Now – Bag is empty, I have a deadline.

    BTW I would read the IMAGINARY FRIEND book about writing because I am interviewed by mine every day on the way to work. I wrote a column about it. Got the most feedback too. None negative. No one said I was crazy because they were.

    Great to hear from ya B :)

  11. More than I could begin to list. Time is short enough as it is.

  12. My book called What Your a Therapist Really Thinks About You.

    -But I might try to get back to it.

  13. A recollection of time spent on a golf course and conversations I continued to have with a dead friend. The sad realization was the conversations didn’t ring true because it wasn’t really his voice I was responding to. And if you can’t talk to the dead, who can you talk to?

  14. A cozy about a little old lady with a talent for car theft; an epic fantasy saga about a girl who slips into a magical realm after her mother dies and figures out she’s the only one with enough mojo to fight the Bloodmage, who is her great-great-great aunt (I was thirteen, so the statutes on mockery have lapsed, thanks); several Leverage scripts and three comic book scripts; a sort of Damon Runyon in 14th Century Spanish Court-esque anti-mage thing; a story about a early 1900s librarian who is mistakenly kidnapped by a wizard who needs to outsource a maiden fair to deliver a mouse to a manticore in order to save the Kingdom of Wendell from bankruptcy; and a story about a police detective and his genius civilian consultant, who happens to be a stripper and possibly a domme.

    And these are only the ones that made it past the first fifty pages.

    I keep going back to a few other these, hoping they’re only mostly dead . . . it worked for Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer.

    (I’m going to be humming “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” all day, which is a terrible thing to do to a basement alto)

  15. A weird thing about roadkill…I had an idea of giving up on every single damn thing before I started serializing this one strange little YA/NA novel online. I didn’t even know anything about the site, but just sort of threw it out there on a lark.
    Now, since November, I’ve gotten over 15,000 readers with no promotion whatsoever and amazing reviews. The site gives you a count of the nationalities of the people reading it and it’s cool to see readers from every continent except Antarctica, of course.
    Aside from the masses of English-speaking readers, I have quite a few in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran (?), Latvia, Israel, Uruguay, Papua New Guinea, China, Hong Kong, Estonia, Brazil, etc, etc.
    It kind of freaks me out when I get frantic messages from a business major in India and a civil engineering student in Oman urging me to post the next chapter quickly because they can’t wait to see what happens. I had readers from the Philippines during the worst of their hurricane. A Dutch student sends missives about how mad she gets at my main character for daring to date another guy. Some messages, I have to translate.
    It’s creating its own kind of beautiful energy just by my *not* giving up. Freaky. Really, really freaky, but good. So no more thoughts of giving up for now. Weird.

  16. What work have you left by the roadside like so much kill?

    Three critters – before I turned my sights on this latest endeavor. One may stand to be resurrected at some point in the future. But, I haven’t decided if reviving what looks and smells like a skunk is worth it – just yet.

  17. While a vault of cadavers are in storage within my secret fortress, I am possessed of mad genius. I may one day bestow life to the dead.

    Victor is a friend of mine since boyhood. His methods are known to me. My breath ensures there is yet a chance for these relics.

    Hopefully, that hope involves less horrendous efforts than this post.

  18. poems, friends, exes, more poems, and a really angsty novel that I wrote when I was 13; the poetry manuscript and memoir I refuse to give up on yet. I will sink to the bottom with them, if I have to.

  19. A novel based on the story of a friend who then hired me to edit her memoir. Oops! A collection of essays that calls out a time in my life I’d rather bury forever. A novel that starts with a single woman taking yet another preg-stick pee test in supermarket restroom (too close to the aforementioned collection of essays).

    A dozen or so false starts sitting on my hard drive tagged with names like Aug2011 and the like.

    So many. So many.

  20. Came here to share Robert Deniro’s intro to the Oscar for best screenplay ~ “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

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