• 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 A Wife and Kids in Baltimore, Jack

Dear David Simon: I’ve asked you once and I’ll ask again: Will you marry me?  I finished Season Five tonight. Apart from the fact that I’m still not exactly sure who Marlo Stanfield was, that was the best ride since the Soaps. The Wire, for all its violence, is incredibly character driven. I’m going to miss the gang, the look, the tone, the pacing, the story telling. And the dialogue! Great fucking dialogue: And I quote, “You’re a cunt hair away from an indictment.”

What should I binge-watch next?

Find Out What It Means to Me



Thanks for the years of great comments, of great spirit, and support of all the writers who hang out here.

Everyone, get a copy or two of Franny & Toby. NOW! Congrats Tetman. You rock!!! Love, Betsy

I Went Out for a While and I Never Came Back

Writing a book is like finding a new lover. It woos you, loves you, fucks you, then leaves you. Dearest darling readers of this blog: I did it. I finished my book. I finished the fucker. It was due today and I turned it in today. 91,000 words cracked out of the sky, the tree, the branch, the twig. Am I stoned? Am I dead? Am I run over by a truck? Am I a cat, a bat, an owl, a toad? Every morning at 5:00, 5:30, I glimpsed myself in the window, a shadow, a golem, a cup of coffee. Does my nightgown smell like oatmeal? Who highlighted these transcripts in yellow? How many years did I wait for this? How many before I find another?

Fess up: did you write or did you play with your food?

I’ll Send You All My Love Every Day In a Letter

When everyone is going to the beach, kayaking on the lake, playing croquet on the lawn, I expect all of you to be sweating your balls off at your desk every day for at least, at least, two hours. Get up at five, make a pot of coffee and hit it. Turn off your email. Turn off your internet. Get a pad to note the things you need to look up. Do not come here because that’s what I’m doing for the month. I’m finishing a new book and I’m putting blinders on. I’m not going to Lena’s for lunch with my friends, I’m not weeding, I’m not smoking weed, I’m not going to UPS, the cleaner, or Walgreens for a shopping spree. My office is beginning to smell. The garbage can is a sculpture worthy of the Whitney. There are piles of paper everywhere and I can put my finger on any notebook and find what I’m looking for and be surprised at the same time. I’ve been writing since I was eight. This is the first time I feel vaguely confident. And for that I am reasonably certain that god will strike me dead.

Whenever you like, check in here and tell us about your progress or lack. Just keep writing and I’ll be back Sept. 1. Thanks to all you old friends for stopping in again. xo, Betsy

What You Doing in a Club on a Thursday

Doing a double-header tonight. Watching The Wire and trying to dig out of the endless well of e-mail. I’m not going to start a screed against email because I’d rather write to almost anyone instead of talk on the phone. Plus, email has elevated voice mail. WHen you call someone now, it’s serious shit.

What do you think of the Jimmy McNulty montage? The many faces of McNulty. Jimmy!

You Can Call Me AL

I am really tired of crappy titles. Of douchy titles, generic titles, copycat titles, titles that wouldn’t hurt a fly, titles that don’t cut the line. And I’m really really tired of sub-titles The life and times. The rise and fall. THe extraordinary journey of an earthworm. Please don’t tell me, even if you believe it, that titles don’t matter. Don’t send in a book with a place holder. A title has a lot of work to do. A lot. It has to grab you. I has to sound good. It has to be descriptive. It should be evocative. It has to be memorable. ANd the more you read the book, the more the title makes sense. You might even find out, while you’re reading, where the title comes from and that’s always sweet. World, please stop making bad douchy titles.

Tonight is a workshop for anyone who needs help with a title.  Pitch your titles or titles in progress and see how people respond. The big question: would you pick it up based on the title.

I Send You All My Love Every Day in a Letter

What do shrinks and agents have in common?


Guys, when I was a baby editor, I had lunch with a big deal agent. It was July and though she was sitting at table with me, she had already checked out. In our pathetic attempt to make conversation, she asked what I was doing for the summer. I was making 22K; I was picking my nose for the summer. I asked if she was taking a vacation. I have never forgotten her response, “Any agent worth her salt takes August off.”

This may seem random, but when did Jennifer Garner become a shill for Capital One?


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